Friday, May 09, 2008

What is progress?

It's easy to think progress is measured by GDP, trade balances, or the number of things we have; that's what we read and hear about in the news. Yet there's an undercurrent that suggests such views have it all backwards.

The Glaser Progress Foundation has a program area devoted to measuring progress. Go there to see a video or hear an audio of a 1968 speech by Robert Kennedy suggesting that GDP measures all the unimportant things or to research articles they've assembled.

Thanks to Joost Bonsen's Maximizing Progress for the link. Thanks, too, to Cliff Havener and his Meaning : The Secret of Being Alive. I read that years ago, and I'm pretty certain he makes the point that Lord Kelvin was wrong: all the important things—love, peace, faith, art, ...—share the attribute that they can't be measured by numbers. I've looked, though, and can't find the reference; if anyone can provide me the page number, I'd appreciate it.

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Blogger Robyn said...

The Gross National Happiness idea is along similar lines -- although again it's attempting to measure the intangible:

09 May, 2008 13:17  
Blogger Bill Harris said...

Robyn, thanks for that pointer. That led me to, which gives a "Happy Planet Index" by country (disclaimer: I have no idea how good the HPI is).

09 May, 2008 14:23  

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