It is certainly true that some people make too much of GDP, but those numbers can be pretty helpful for answering certain research questions. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

To continue on your metaphor, it's not clear to me if there is a baby worth saving there at all. Even if there is, the baby is submerged in an enormous cesspool of filthy and toxic bathwater that's been poisoning us in very nasty ways for a long time.

0SilasBarta10yIf we're going to do metaphors, then yes, you're right, but we also have to make sure we're not drinking the bathwater. The bathwater is for bathing, not for drinking. GDP should be used a very rough cross-country comparison, not as a measure of how well the economy's general ability to satisfy wants changes over short intervals. Interestingly enough, I was arguing roughly your position a few years ago. But now, seeing how economist deliberately prioritize GDP over the fundamentals it's supposed to measure, I can't even justify defending it for purposes other than, "The US economy is more productive than Uganda's."

Open Thread June 2010, Part 3

by Kevin 1 min read14th Jun 2010627 comments


This thread is for the discussion of Less Wrong topics that have not appeared in recent posts. If a discussion gets unwieldy, celebrate by turning it into a top-level post.

The thrilling conclusion of what is likely to be an inaccurately named trilogy of June Open Threads.