Friday, October 17, 2014

A thought about measurement of national performance.

Consider a utopia in which no one works. Farming, fishing, forestry and manufacturing are fully automated. So are buses, planes, ships and trains. A robot can cut your hair or cook and serve you a meal. Even health services are automated, with machines providing better care than human providers ever could.

Everyone gets free lodging in comfortable quarters, a good and healthy diet, clothing, and all the basic goods without charge. Thus no one works.

People spend their time doing what they want to do. Some are artists, others write. Many play sports and some reach such levels of excellence as athletes or actors that people watch them perform. Many study, improving their minds. Some conduct research. Some love public policy, and volunteer to help govern.

The question is, how would you measure growth in such a utopian society? GDP would have little or no meaning. Perhaps you could try to measure gross national happiness. Or perhaps you would try to measure the degree to which people were living "the good life" -- achieving what the philosophers among them felt to be worthwhile in life.

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