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The End of GDP: A New Economic Model Closer to Nature

I hate it when I have an idea, and then Nobel Prize-winning economists get all the credit for thinking of it first. That’s what happened last week when I read in the New York Times about Joseph E. Stiglitz and Amartya Sen (my all-time favorite economist) recommending that we do away with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the ultimate measure of the health of a country and its economy.

The truth is, recessions are fairly predictable. Since the founding of America, we’ve had one at least every 20 to 30 years, and in the last 50 years, we have had at least one, maybe two, every DECADE. If they are so predictable, why are we so shocked whenever they happen? My theory is that we are so disconnected from the cycles of the economy that it’s equivalent to being stunned when summer is over and autumn comes. Rather than FREAKING OUT and making it worse, we should prepare for it, the way we do for the winter. Stock up and preserve the fruits of summer for the inevitable dark days that come EVERY YEAR.

Younger countries, just like younger children, grow fast. Can you imagine if doctors still plotted our growth on charts when we were in our 50s? The sad fact is many of us do keep “growing,” but instead of healthy growth, it’s called obesity. America has been economically obese for decades—hogging the majority of the world’s resources to feed the desperate hunger for more “growth.”

Now it’s China and India who are the growing “babies.” Ironically, they are the oldest civilizations on the planet. But civilizations have seasons, too. They rise, they fall, they rise again. (I remember that the first time I went to Rome, I kept thinking that it didn’t look “fallen” at all!)

What is the true measure of health? Strength and security: Are we strong enough to keep ourselves and our families secure? But strength isn’t just military might, it’s also the spiritual strength to make it through tough times, the strength to find new solutions to old problems, and the strength to do what’s right. And security isn’t just the idea that we can protect ourselves and keep our families safe and well fed—it’s the ability to educate ourselves to be leaders in a world that is changing faster than a growing baby.

It’s time to look to nature as our model, and adapt our thinking and planning to what we are a part of, what we can’t be separated from, no matter how much we try, in our high-rise, air-conditioned skyscrapers and pinstripe suits.

Because nature always gets the last laugh.

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5 Responses to The End of GDP: A New Economic Model Closer to Nature

  1. Donna in DE September 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    I too have had ideas that more famous people have gotten credit for, whether its an idea for a novel or movie or what have you. I guess as the saying goes, “All great minds think alike”.

    That’s not a novel idea either, looking to nature. The Jews have been doing it for millennas and still live according to nature’s cycles. Their calendar is different and so too the way that they eat, plant, harvest, live and many other day to day things. It is how they have survived and maybe we should look to nature for how to do these things, but we can’t seem to do it according to our own calendar, much less someone else’s. They know that every 7 years they have drought and the 7 promising years that they have in Israel is when they grow and store grain and other things for the leaner years ahead. We could definitely take a lesson from them. They take care of the land, for it is their very survival, and they make the best use of it at all times. Rarely do you see or hear of Jews desecrating land and they are forever planting trees. When I was in Israel and Jordon a few years ago, all you had to do was to look around and compare what Jordon looked like, versus Israel as far as agricultural development . Almost everywhere you looked in Israel, something green was growing and flourishing as opposed to Jordon, where things were dry, arid, dead or didn’t exist. Israel too can be and is sometimes dry and arid, but they found ways to overcome these problems with irrigation and stewardship of the land. Water is a premium in those countries, which makes it all the more amazing at what they have done and are still doing with agriculture.

    Someday, before it is too late,(and it’s getting later all the time) I hope that we can learn in this country, that we don’t have the answers to many problems, but work on finding solutions and use solutions that are tried and true by other countries for healthy living and a truly, healthy lifestyle.

  2. anne October 6, 2009 at 10:23 am #

    The jewish people do not destroy land? Please ask the Palestinians about this. Almost daily their ancient olives groves are being bulldozered by Israelis. Perhaps that news does not percolate as far as this writer.

  3. Donna in DE October 6, 2009 at 10:07 pm #

    ANNE, This is true, because of settlement, but I was speaking of their own land and surviving off of said land. Food, clothing, etc. We, all of us have destroyed other’s land for many reason, non of which are good or productive. Americans have done it quite often. People tend to use war as an excuse, but that’s a story for another time. I lived in Florida for years, and the way that the builder’s destroyed natural habitats, in the name of progress (residential) was appalling, as if another high-class gated community is needed there. You have to destroy to build my dear woman otherwise we would all be living in trees. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea since it is said that we descended from apes!

    I am well aware of and have watched this bit of “news” in living color because I was there at the time, that it continues is like everything else that man tends to do when he wants something, take it, destroy it, build on it and everyone and everything else be damned. Perhaps you should visit Israel yourself or maybe Palestine and get all the facts with your own eyes. It’s worth it! Yes, the Jews have destroyed some of their own land, but they have reclaimed that land in a positive way with their stewardship. This is in no way an excuse for what they are doing to Palestinian land, but I have seen in the past, where the Palestinians have destroyed their land and left it to repair itself. I have travelled throughout thte West Bank, parts of Gaza and other places in Israel and have compared all inhabited areas. The Palestinians are not stupid people. They too can work the land to make it fruitful, but they don’t, not even on a small scale. Yes, they have some small private farms, but they are not well kept or maintained. They must learn to take care of their land and stop using what the Israeli’s are doing
    as a hindrance. I am starting to go into politics and that is not my intention. There is a lot going on there, that people can’t see or know about who have never set foot in the region, except by the television. Take a trip there and see what I mean. You may never get into some of the territories though, I was lucky, I’m connected, and no, I am not Jewish or white, just a well-travelled and fortuntate individual who tries to look at the situation from many sides.

  4. Donna in DE October 6, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    Please forgive any typing errors.

  5. Issy June 22, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Many many qutaliy points there.

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