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« Objects have fingerprints | Main | Macro Microfinance »

November 19, 2006

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Although apparently not directly related to the subject, may I bring to your attention a short book by Jean-François Billeter, a swiss native, intitled "Chine trois fois muette".
As the title does not say, half of the book deals with the drawbacks and misery of what is called economic development. Brilliant, innovative and rather provocative. Naturally, it ends with a deep analysis of the chinese situation.

GDP was actually invented during WWII as a measure for supplying the war.

link: http://dieoff.org/page11.htm

You probably already know that, but ya know. Never know. Anyway nice blog. Been watching the TED videos a bit recently. The arguement against using GDP and working on a different metric has been around for awhile it is after all as if we've never left war and just moved the front to business which might explain how logistics, a military term, has come to be an entire industry.

Thanks,
A

It's certainly worth looking beyond GDP as a single indicator for national success. Looking at progress on the human development index, on environmental factors and on social satisfaction are all good possible ideas. And the concept of a national happiness index is certainly an intriguing one to almost everyone who encounters it.

But it's worth remembering that Bhutan's path towards happiness is a complicated one. There's an ongoing refugee situation which resulted from the expulsion of over a hundred thousand ethnic Nepali citizens, which turned them into stateless refugees. Some have suggested that the expulsion of Nepali speakers was a way of silencing political dissent - others have suggested that it's an attempt at creating ethnic homogeneity in the country, as the refugees were forced out of a part of the country which had become majority Nepali.

Writing about these issues in Bhutan has been an interesting experience. I made a single post - over a year ago - about these issues, titled "Not Everyone is Happy In the Hermit Kingdom". Rarely does a week go by that I don't get an angry comment or email from someone in Bhutan accusing me of being unfairly biased towards their country or suggesting that I'm a crypto-Nepali dedicated to the overthrow of their nation. One wonders whether a strong campaign against dissent is part of the strategy for national happiness...

It doesn't seem to far-fetched to speculate that creating ethnic homogeneity, rather than silencing dissent, may be part of the strategy for national happiness. But thanks for pointing out the refugees situation, Ethan. On the point of moving away from the war, Andrew, let's not forget that most of the international architecture (starting with the UN: think "permanent member" of the security council) is still based on wartime and post-wartime geopolitical realities.

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