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Five Reasons Why Prioritizing Growth Is Bad Policy We tend to see growth as an unalloyed good, but an expanding body of evidence is now telling us to think again. Its movements are constantly monitored, measured to the decimal place, deplored or praised, diagnosed as weak or judged healthy and vigorous.
Newspapers, magazines, and cable channels report regularly on it. It is examined at all levels -- global, national, and corporate.
Indeed, one of the few things on which left, right, and center agree is that growth is good and more of it is needed. There are only five problems with America's growth imperative: It doesn't deliver the claimed social and economic benefits.
Our measure of growth -- gross domestic product or GDP -- is fundamentally flawed. The focus on growing GDP deflects us away from growing the many things that do need to grow. The over-riding imperative to grow gives over-riding power to those, mainly the corporations, which have the capital and technology to deliver that growth, and, much the same thing, it undermines the case for a long list of public policies that would improve national well-being but are said to "slow growth" and to "hurt the economy.
Today, GDP has more than fully "recovered" from the Great Recession and now exceeds pre-recession levels, but unemployment is still about 7.
Desperately seeking more GDP growth is unlikely to yield better results, for reasons described subsequently. Also described are some better approaches. Our measure of growth, GDP, is terribly flawed.
Still, it sits in regal enthronement. Never mind that GDP is simply a gross measure of all activity in the formal economy -- good things and bad things, costs and benefits, mere market activity, money changing hands, busyness in the economy -- for the bigger it gets, the greater the potential for both private profit and public revenue.
Never mind also that even the creator of its formalisms, Simon Kuznets, warned in his first report to Congress in that "the welfare of the nation [can] scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above" and by was expressing deeper skepticism: Of all the transitions discussed in America the Possible, the transition from GDP to a fuller, more accurate depiction of where the nation is and is heading may be the closest to a tipping point that can hasten its completion.
We can now envision a dashboard of indicators to supplement those that measure economic activity, unemployment, and inflation. That dashboard should include 1 measures of true economic progress that correct and adjust GDP so that we can gauge sustainable economic welfare in society, 2 indicators of objective social welfare such as the status of health, education, and economic security, 3 indexes of environmental conditions and trends, 4 indicators of political conditions and democracy, and 5 measures of subjective well-being such as life satisfaction, happiness, and trust.
The first of these measures responds to society's need for a monetized measure of sustainable economic welfare--an indicator that corrects the shortcomings of GDP as a measure of social well-being and that can be compared with the movements of GDP and GDP per capita on a regular, quarterly basis.
The ISEW begins with national private consumption expenditures and then adjusts that for distributional inequalities. It then adds in nonmarket contributions to welfare, such as unpaid housework, and subtracts out defensive expenditures such as police protection and pollution control, and it also subtracts the depreciation of natural resources and environmental assets.
The focus on GDP growth deflects efforts from growing the many things that do need to grow. Of course, many things do indeed need to grow. We need to grow the number of good jobs and the incomes of poor and working Americans. We need growth in investment in public infrastructure and in environmental protection; growth in the deployment of climate-friendly and other green technologies; growth in the restoration of both ecosystems and local communities; growth in research and development; growth in security against the risks attendant to illness, old age, and disability; and growth in international assistance for sustainable, people-centered development for the world's poor.
These are among the many areas where public policy needs to ensure that growth occurs. Jobs and meaningful work top that list because unemployment is so devastating. America should be striving to add jobs twice as fast as we are, or more.
But likely future rates of overall economic growth won't get us near this goal. The availability of jobs, the well-being of people, and the health of communities should not be forced to await the day when GDP growth might somehow deliver them. It is time to shed the view that government provides mainly safety nets and occasional Keynesian stimuli.
We must insist that government have an affirmative responsibility to ensure that those seeking decent-paying jobs find them. The surest, and also the most cost-effective, way to that end is direct government spending, investments, and incentives targeted at creating jobs in areas where there is high social benefit, such as modern infrastructure, child and elder care, renewable energy and energy efficiency, environmental and community restoration, local banking, and public works and childhood education.
Creating new jobs in areas of democratically determined priority is certainly better than trying to create jobs by pump priming aggregate economic growth, especially in an era where the macho thing to do in much of business is to shed jobs, not create them. Another path to job creation is reversing the U.
To keep investment and jobs at home, William Greider has urged that Washington "rewrite trade law, tax law, and policies on workforce development and subsidy. Far more encompassing is the straightjacket of the growth imperative. It is possible to identify a long list of public policies that would slow GDP growth, thus sparing the environment, while simultaneously improving social and individual well-being.
Such policies include shorter workweeks and longer vacations; greater labor protections, including a "living" minimum wage, protection of labor's right to organize, and generous parental leaves; guarantees to part-time workers; a new design for the twenty-first-century corporation, one that embraces rechartering, new ownership patterns, and stakeholder primacy rather than shareholder primacy; restrictions on advertising; incentives for local and locally owned production and consumption; strong social and environmental provisions in trade agreements; rigorous environmental, health, and consumer protection; greater economic equality with genuinely progressive taxation of the rich including a progressive consumption tax and greater income support for the poor; increased spending on neglected public services; and initiatives to address population growth at home and abroad.PEST Analysis is a simple and widely used tool that helps you analyze the Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, and Technological changes in your business environment.
This helps you understand the "big picture" forces of change that you're exposed to, and, from this, take advantage of .
The economic environment is one of the major determinants of market potential and opportunity. Careful analysis of this, particularly income and the stage of economic development is essential.
Failure to do so will lead, at best, to sub optimal opportunity and, at worst, to disaster. Traditional economic theory posits that people make decisions by maximizing a utility function in which all of the relevant constraints and preferences are included and weighed appropriately.
Rich Howarth, Pat and John Rosenwald Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College, is an environmental and ecological economist who studies the interface between economic theory and the ecological, moral, and social dimensions of environmental issues.
Almost every American (89% in ) feels that we can find a balance that allows us to enjoy economic progress while making sure our rivers, lakes, mountains and wildlife are protected.
One reason for the public's positive outlook on the environment/economy interplay is a growing environmental industry. In theory economic growth might be achieved without additional impacts on the environment but this would mean many activities with economic growth potential would have to be foregone and this will not happen whilst top priority is given to achieving economic growth.