Separating Goals from Measures, and Economic Growth as the Primary Measure

by Jim Dator

Introduction

In the lead story in this issue, Lee Martin covers a confusing array of topics. I believe the key issue is not a question of measures, but of goals. The key error of the present is to consider “economic growth” to be the fundamental social goal. It should not. Participatory, futures-oriented processes should define social goals before we worry about how to measure progress towards them. GDP might then turn out to be a useful, limited measure, among other measures. At the present time, most citizens and policy-makers equate “economic growth” with “social, environmental, and personal health and welfare.” If the economy is “growing”, all is well. If it is not, that is a tragedy that can only be fixed by getting the economy growing again.(continue…)

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