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Re-Imagining the GDP

Flickr/Chris Guillebeau
The tiny kingdom of Bhutan measures Gross National Happiness rather than GDP.

How should we measure societal progress and success?  What is the economy really for?  Is the measure of Gross National Happiness, championed by the tiny south Asian nation of Bhutan, superior to our Gross Domestic Product?  How has Seattle become one of the centers in the U. S. pursuing such alternative measures?

These were some of the questions pondered in a recent panel discussion put on by Seattle's CityClub and moderated by KPLU business and labor reporter Bellamy Pailthorp.  Video of the event will be broadcast starting Thursday (12/2) on the Seattle Channel

The event featured three local experts on the topic:

David Batker, Executive Director, Earth Economics

Martin Collier, Executive Director, Glaser Progress Foundation  and

John DeGraaf, Executive Director, Take Back Your Time; coordinator, Seattle Area Happiness Initiative

Here's the blurb CityClub used to publicize the panel:

It was the Great Depression that gave rise to the measurement of “GDP,” and led, many think, to smarter policy choices. To navigate beyond today’s Great Recession, do we need a revised GDP that more broadly defines well-being, and considers the environment, our health, our education, and our civic engagement? Should we rethink what’s assigned economic value (e.g., cleaning up an oil spill, running prisons) and what isn’t (e.g. leaving an ecosystem intact, having leisure time)? What would it take to get a new metric enacted? Is it even possible, given today’s anxious and polarized politics? And, in practice, what difference would a new metric make — and for whom?

Watch the video to learn more:

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.