GDP — a measure of the capitalist elite’s greed and the plunder of our planet
I was a senior in high school when I got interested in politics and economy, therefore I took the first books in these topics from our bookshelves back home at a very still-forming-my-identity age. Not until then had I read convincing arguments as to why it is a mistake to include only GDP data when comparing different national economies and societies. To this very day, I can still remember the two illustrative examples in the study I read.
In the first one, our hero is sitting in his room on a hot summer day. If he opens the window, his room cools down and he can feel comfortable again — however, there is another option for him: he can turn on the air conditioner, the room cools down and his comfort recovers just as much. There is a big difference between these two choices from an ecological point of view, though: opening the window does not consume coal and gas energy, so it does not harm the environment, neither costs a penny — but our hero reaches for the AC’s remote control, which leads to increased production by the electricity provider company and he is forced to work harder and even more since he has to pay the electricity bills. A switched on AC generates economic growth and tax revenue, which the market and the state are more than happy about. From the GDP’s point of view, climate change is logical and useful, but we must admit it is a short-sighted self-destruction in terms of sustainability.
In another example, after a major oil pollution disaster, a huge effort to reduce damage, protect drinking water and wildlife has resulted in significant economic growth in the area. Anyone who simply looks at the evolution of GDP finds that a catastrophic event has blown up the economy — even though the natural damage in reality is irreparable.
THESE TWO SIMPLE EXAMPLES REFER TO THE FACT THAT GDP, THE PHETICAL DATA OF NEOLIBERAL ECONOMIC AGENTS, IS NOT APPLICABLE TO DESCRIBE REALITY OR TO MAKE DECISIONS BASED UPON.
And for someone who believes that even hough sustainability considerations are not represented in the GDP metric, they still feel this figure in their payment, and thus, their livelihood. So, it is worth demanding it from politicians if they want to live better and better every day. Here is a expansive figure: while per capita GDP in the U.S. increased by nearly thirty-five percent between 1990 and 2011, median household income slightly declined. And this trend can be observed in almost all capitalist economies following the neoliberal turn of the 80s and 90s. Therfore, GDP is not only unsuitable for representing ecological aspects, but it is also useless for describing the quality of life of the average person, for the fairness of social redistribution of the goods produced is in no way expressed in this data. As for the good or bad functioning of the market, this figure is simply blind — and it is a moral value judgment, yes, because I do not believe that the market works well where speculation is more profitable than production, where wealth produced in economy accumulates in the bank accounts of a few thousand families, and where society pays for the greed of the elite through child poverty and the daily deprivation of teachers and health workers.
The position of GDP in the interpretation of economic processes has not changed since my high school years: worldwide, this indicator impacts economic policy, it is the basis for intellectual discourse, and this and only this data is what economists have been working with for decades. These numbers are imprinted in the heads of their generations. I wonder why.
Well, because the management and shareholders of multinational companies and politicians are only interested in GDP — as nothing more accurately expresses their success or failure than these numbers .
THE MEMBERS OF THE ELITE LIVE UNDER THE FASHION OF GDP WHICH DETERMINES THEIR DAILY FUNCTION: THIS IS THE MOST INVESTIGATIVE MEASURE OF THEIR RICHNESS AND (LACK OF) HUMANITY.
The increase in this number most accurately shows the rate at which the elite is growing and how successfully they are eviscerating the planet’s wildlife and the money-generating biorobots that produce their money.
What better shows humanity’s inertia in the face of the world’s financial elite and the impending climate catastrophe than the fact that since my youth, not only has the GDP measure not been revised, but none of the myriad other data has been included in the discourse as this figure alternative. The green movements have not even managed to achieve at least data on the extent of the ecological footprint in addition to GDP.
Neoliberal economists dominate the entire economic and financial discourse — only a growth-based approach could be used in their training. Capital, the right-wing and liberal media that serve its interests, and neoliberal economic policy, which is interested in maximizing the profits of multinational corporations, have once and for all engaged themselves in measuring GDP, so that displaces from the surfaces of mass communication. And this is only good for the world economy to lead consumer societies into a gap. A gap whose mere existence they do not become aware of until the moment of the fall.