Three Kinds of Lies

Earlier I wrote about the Gross National Product – an indicator which measures the total amount of good and services produced at home and overseas in a given period by a nation. And the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) takes into account only what is happening at home regardless of who is producing the goods and services.

Governments and economists want the GDP to indicate growth, because it would mean the nation’s economy is healthy. But do the figures really mean just that?

This is what David Suzuki had to say about the GDP recently:

There is a good rationale for [growth], in that economic growth is tied to jobs and income, which are indeed to a certain extent tied to well-being. But the GDP also includes things like cleaning up oil spills, clearing car accidents and treating asthma attacks brought on by smog. And it includes things like strengthening process efficiencies to “improve the bottom line” – which actually means laying off workers so shareholders make more money. Is that really good for well being?

One of the only things that my psychology taught me that I still remember (and that is still useful) is that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. No more is this true than in the way governments use numbers.

4 thoughts on “Three Kinds of Lies”

  1. Here’s a short and succinct entry on the Bridge to Nowhere… you can google the same tag and come up with enormous returns on the search. One of the rare things that disgruntles me about Alaska is who we’ve somehow elected during the course of time.


  2. No I hadn’t heard about the bridge. I’m interested to hear more though.

    And what you said is sad but true. How to change people’s attitude beyond seeing only the “immediate benefits”. One of my favourite quotes is “It’s amazing how much we can learn from history – and how little we have”. I think it sums it up rather well.


  3. Right now we’ve got a raging debate going about the “bridge to nowhere.” Have you heard about this? I was doing some reading on it the other day and I just kind of wonder if what you were talking about here is pretty much what’s going on with that bridge…. government guy gets approval for a great big bridge to be built… and yes, it will benefit some people…. but more than anything – it will bring more jobs to Alaska. Helps improve the overall number, right? But is it of actual benefit in the long run?

    …. I also noted that village in response to your query – hope it helps.


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