“In his recent commentary Chamber of Commerce president William Moore cherry-picked some numbers to give a distorted perception of the economic life of Vermont. The real story is quite different. Moore says our smallest-in-the-country Gross State Product is ‘bad news.’ It isn’t.”
So begins a July 4th article in the Montpelier, VT Times Argus newspaper, “There’s More To Life Than Money,” by former GNHUSA Board Member Eric Zencey. Zencey, who teaches political economy at the University of Vermont and coordinates the Vermont Genuine Progress Indicator Project, also wrote the seminal “R.I.P.G.D.P.” op-ed published in The New York Times in August 2009.
Zencey’s newest piece is another well-researched, thoughtful, and highly readable argument in favor of alternative indicators that capture true costs and more accurately reflect quality of life. Zencey articulates how flawed the Gross State Product metric and explains,
“For reasons like these, in 2012 the state of Vermont commissioned the Gund Institute at the University of Vermont to compile an alternative indicator for the state. The Genuine Progress Indicator* gives a more accurate view of the economy by counting costs and deducting them from the bottom line. It also adds in benefits that GSP ignores, like volunteer work and child and elder care at home — goods and services we provide to ourselves without cost. This makes GPI a measure of net economic benefit. Gross State Product, as its name indicates, is a measure of our gross expenditure of money. As every businessman knows, you judge performance on the net, not the gross.”
Though Eric’s Independence Day piece is specific to Vermont, the same arguments for alternative indicators can be extrapolated to fit any state in the U.S. Wherever you live, read Eric’s entire Times Argus here.
*GNHUSA was also involved in the push for Vermont to adopt Genuine Progress Indicators.