What Is GDP?
Whenever their stuffed animals fall apart, my kids get their great-grandmother’s to stitch them up. It’s an emergency and they rush to the hospital for broken toys, which is luckily next door. This activity adds nothing to GDP but it makes the children happy and probably adds years to the old lady’s life. I think about it and I wonder. We’re really measuring the wrong things. We’re not measuring what matters at all.
As the original Robert F. Kennedy said about GDP, “it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” A forest adds nothing to GDP while cutting it down is valuable. Care work, repair work, share work, these are all worth nothing. Raising children, caring for elders, caring for yourself? “Do that on your own time.” That’s the message from the ruling oligarchs, and ‘serious’ economists. Seriously? What is GDP even measuring?
These people only look at the speedometer, never glancing at the fuel (E), and never thinking that the two might be connected. And we must just keep accelerating forever, they have no concept of a destination at all. Of course this ends in ruin. How could it not? We measure only prices and destroy that which is priceless. That’s what GDP is a measure of.
What GDP really measures it the rate at which we take things out of the Earth and put them in the bin. We’re literally standing in front of a steaming trash can crowing about how big it’s getting. In geological time, that’s all GDP is. Garbage Dug from Planet. In the long run every single human product is thrown away. Every service leaves only waste heat behind. What economics calls a measure of growth is, geologically speaking, just a measure of pollution. Every year we make things that don’t decompose for hundreds of years, using resources that took millions of years to form. What kind of math equation is this? How do you think it ends?
Pollution, of course, is not a biological concept. The oxygen ‘pollution’ of photosynthesizers became the manna of aerobic lifeforms. The ‘pollution’ of your own butt can grow the plants you eat. Nature is a cycle, and one creature’s shit is another’s breakfast. Economics, however, is a closed system which does not acknowledge (or measure) the existence…