What's Wrong with Gross National Product 1967

Why Focusing on Growth of GNP is Counterproductive

Robert F. Kennedy

The gross national product counts all manner of deleterious activities that have nothing to do with human well-being. Maximizing its growth does not enhance the well-being of our citizens. We need a better measure.

"The gross national product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors, and jails for the people who break them.

"The gross national product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles with nuclear warheads....

"And if the gross national product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials....

"The gross national product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile; and it can tell us everything about America except whether we are proud to be Americans..."

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