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Please leave any comments you have about the conference or about collections of papers below.
Could we have a theme focused on the political economy of data collection and information democracy- the case of Canada- when leaders destroy multi-billion dollar historical data collection vehicles. What are the social and economic losses of information and collection vehicle destruction.
Numbers are given for what is known as the informal economy. For instance, I have read that 90% of the Angolan economy in the late-1990s was underground and not included in that country’s official statistics as used by the U.N. et al –how they make this 90% estimate I do not know! If that is the case, and assuming that reasonably accurate demographic data is forthcoming, per capita GDP data must be seriously understated, although given what is going on there, poverty is indeed very severe, while economic polarization is extreme. And this is only one small example. Given the circumstances, what use are the data we see neatly assembled under the names of the international agencies, US data collection agencies, the CIA, etc. for GDP, trade (also highly “informalized”), and so on? The data collection procedure suggests a massive alienation of reality, an alienation of humanity, in fact. The measurement of what can be measured may be marvellous, but how much is unmeasured and non-measurable? That’s what I find more interesting.
With the emergence of peer production, a wholly new range of ‘contributory metrics’ are being developed by open production communities, to measure and eventually reward contributions. We call these ‘open value network accounting’ or ‘p2p accounting’ for short.
We have a collection of information on these emerging metrics which we keep at
Michel Bauwens, P2P Foundation
I wonder how long this conference will be open. A couple of paper topics recommend themselves to me:
(1) U.S. GDP adjusted for health care outputs, rather than inputs. The output of the health care industry in the United States is assumed to be the value of its inputs. Clearly the outcomes by objective measures of life expectancy, infant mortality, etc., are below most other advanced industrial nations. If GDP were adjusted to reflect this, it would be six to ten percent below its official rate. What does that look like over time? And the obvious political ramifications.
(2) Similarly, public investment is assumed to be the value of the inputs, not the output. When we are dealing with public goods, which are not depletable to a greater or lesser extent, the value of the goods is a multiple of the costs of production. Stiglitz has made the point repeatedly that these investments would be made in a minute by the private sector if the returns could be captured. But public goods are to a greater or lesser extent not excludable as well. Can the value of public investment or the cost of its depreciation be calculated convincingly? What would GDP look like with this adjustment?
(3) A much more elaborate effort is needed to create a metric that adjusts for climate change, the depletion of resources and the destruction of natural systems. The IPCC is coming out again in 2014. They may have something. I would be interested in methods that could produce a ballpark adjustment to GDP to account for climate change.
(4) GDP measures both goods and bads, being simply a measurement of monetized activity. Societies that are more equal produce fewer bads and more goods. See “The Spirit Level” by Wilkinson and Pickett. Is there a simple adjustment to be made to GDP to account for this phenomenon?
So, Merijn and Dirk. These are ideas I intend to pursue. I am not in possession of sufficient time to produce anything in the near term, however. I would be interested in direction, references and feedback in that effort.
Not sure what you want to do with this comment. Appreciate the conference. Do it again in a year and I’ll have something.
Some remarks to (2):
For a discussion at this level i would better use the term “efford” instead of cost since all public goods have to be produced by some kind of efford.
The “value”-view is in my opinion a bit misleading by thinking about it.
The public goods in total have to be produced in the very same year of using them by physical work (done by human body work or machines).
Of course, the method of pay for this is money based – but the image should be made clear that it is something which has its efford – and someone has to deliver this efford or labor or work.
Therefore i would use an equivalent of the energy as the description of public goods as a part of the GDP measured in the equivalent of energy in total also.
Using the term efford or work made it clear how much efford in the long run is necessary for lifting up the level of a decreasing status.
If you look at my theory of using energy as the numéraire for a given economy there is a potential of expanding this basic definition to a definition of how much of the energy used comes from “zero climate impact” energy sources and how much “comes from fossil fuels”.
If you base the definition of the economy on its energy value productively used it is in my eyes quite easy to argue to go to renewables. In the long run there is no other energy as renewables. And 200 Years is not really a long run …
The same link to my theory as well: If you define the economy by its productively used energy then you can easily compare the percentage of energy which is going to “waste”. The less, the better.
Well, there is not the link to “bad” products, but instead to “bad” waste.
Excuse me for reffering to my theory so often, but to answer these kind of questions is one reason for me why it is interesting to start think about it.