lunedì 18 maggio 2009

Italian GDP is falling down: so what?

The diffusion of the data about the very negative trends in Italian GDP has activated an information campaign based on panics, anxiety and fear. Simoultaneously, criticism on the validity of this economic indicator has started again, even if with a very limited space in TV and in newspapers.

These observations and revising considerations have been carried on since long time but they have scarce space on mass-media because GDP is essentially a tool used to grant the surviving of a well defined economic development model based on "growth". Criticizing GDP thus implies criticizing the idea of "growth".

In a very simply description, GDP measures the richness produced by a national economic system: anything not directly measurable in terms of money cannot be measured and captured by GDP. Cars produced and sold generate richness for car industry as well as deaths in car accidents generate richness in insurance industry. When an area is deforested for residential purposes a richness is generated from the wood selling to the houses final selling: GDP captures this but it ignores the loss of the forest.

GDP ignores volountary work, many externalities (pollution, erosion, desertification, resources' over exploitation, etc...). It ignores solidarity.

In short, GDP measures growth but it cannot measure real wealth. A country with lower GDP levels than Italy may show better capability to produce wealth for its people.

In particular Italy is a country potentially capable to produce high levels of private richness but it seems today unable to produce public richness and wealth: fiscal evasion, individualism, lack of civic responsibility, corruption, cynicism maybe are useful factors to produce for example wonderful villas, but just outside these villas' gates you will find rusty street lights, no public gardens and parks, bad and indecent schools and hospitals, impassable roads, etc.
Even if Italy produces richness, our politicians are unable to translate it into diffused wealth.

Instead of complaining for the GDP fall, we should rather wonder what we are doing for the real wealth of our families and communites. We should rather wonder about the trends in public wealth...

Do they sell fewer cars, cellular phones, and LCD TVs? Let's move towards less hysterical and more frugal forms of economy: more support should be given to those economic sectors today scarcely considered in Italy such as alternative energies, agrofood, scientific research, bio-costruction, etc. capable to create enterprise and job opportunities.

Is GDP falling down? Actually I don't care. Maybe we will gain less money, but we must try to gain more wealth pretending better public services being also in harmony with the environment and with the Earth.

Useful video:
Vandana Shiva (in English)
Serge Latouche (in Italian)

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