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ISSUE 119 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/18/2005

Talk debunks economic idea

By Bryanna Bellard
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 18, 2005

This past Friday evening Executive Director of Redefining Progress, Michel Gelobter, presented his perspective on the economic progress of the U.S. Redefining Progress is a "non-partisan public policy institute focused on the intersection between economics, social equity, and the environment." This institute provides information and statistics for the public that allows them to look at financial situations in communities, cities, states and nation wide from a different perspective.

Gelobter addressed the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) in his presentation. He attacked the way that the GDP statistics represent the economic and environmental situations. Hurricane Katrina is one example.

The GDP showed improvement after the stor hit New Orleans and relief efforts were underway.

"The GDP does not feel pain," Gelobter said.

He explained the GDP counts the following things as positives: the impacts of divorce, disease, crimes, accidents or the depleting of wetlands.

Thus the money spent for the recovery from Hurricane Katrina boosts the GDP.

The reason why the GDP does not reflect these kinds of tragedies as negatives is because it is "a gross tally of money spent – goods and services purchased by households or government and business investments, regardless of weather they enhance out well-being or not."

The basic idea Redefining Progress promotes is a redefinition of economic status. This idea is the GPI, which represents all the things that the basic GDP does not recognize as major parts of our economy fluctuation between progress and regression.

Gelobter emphasized that the nation and world of individual communities must begin to look at things from a different perspective.

Gelobter continued, explaining it is not logical to calculate money spent and conclude that more spent equals positive growth.

In Gelobter's book, titled "The Soul of Environmentalism," he describes the importance of the Earth as human beings' habitat.

"What allows for the negligence of the environment," Gelobter explained, "is the fact that citizens are fed statistics that make us feel good about where our country stands financially and socially. For example the GDP."

If the government was using the GPI to represent economic gain and loss in the U.S. then Americans would be more concerned about the unevenness of money distribution and the perpetuation of that system.

"We must recognize the spirituality in our work," Gelobter said. "We must ask questions on personal levels, then on a planetary scale."

He explained that after this, the nation will be able to address the issue that are most pressing in a world of growing economic and social development.

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