As previously noted in this journal, it’s fortunate that economists discovered money before they discovered defecation. If they hadn’t, we would have a truly gross domestic product.
Economists, like lawyers, MBAs, and Common Core test tyrants have been trained to view life through limited factor lenses. There are a number of problems with this. For example, few of us outside of economics know what a GDP or GNP feels like. We do know whether we have a job, are getting paid fairly, and can afford the place in which we live
In fact, productivity growth since 2000 has more than tripled real wage increases. And since people live on the latter, the former hasn’t been particularly helpful.
Imagine, for example, that a new Walmart opens in your town and gives a nice boost to the local productivity stats. Now imagine that as a result of that opening, you lose your job.
Or consider that economists would have us believe that humans are the only creatures on earth whose ecological survival is dependent upon endless population growth and ever expanding consumption of the nature’s other products.
Here’s another way to look the problem. If you check the 20 states with the best and worst productivity growth and compare them to the rankings of states in four categories that really seem to matter to people – health, happiness, longevity and poverty – there were only three states – Utah and Nebraska at the top and Mississippi at the bottom whose economic growth correlated to more than one of the other stats.
Some states even reversed their standings in other categories. For example, Connecticut ranked a pitiful 49th in productivity growth but stood at 3rd, 7th, 9th with the best longevity, health and low poverty rates.
Texas ranked at the top in productivity and had one of the worst poverty rates.
Hawaii ranked 1st in health, happiness and longevity but came in the middle in productivity.
Which which may explain why, years before I had these stats, I wrote this poem:
I like to go down to the zoo
And there I sit and watch the gnu.
I’ve also noticed recently
The gnu has started watching me.
For hours we just share a stare
A happy unproductive pair
Economists we might impress
With our total uselessness.
Still it’s the G-N-U for me.
Let others boost the GNP