I did a really fun interview with (my favorite indie comic) Fart Party creator Julia Wertz this week, and she posted it on her blog simultaneously with its publication in Vice Magazine. I'm linking to it because the interview ends up addressing a whole lot of the issues brought up in the comments sections here over the past couple of days.
Wertz: Last year, Bush said the following about America's economy:
"A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy – and that is what we have. … This economy is on the move, and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government, but with more enterprise.."
– President George W. Bush, State Of The Union Address, 1/23/07
A quick glance of the White House's official economic overview creates a vision of America with a strong economy. It purports that "American workers are finding more jobs and taking home more pay" and that the unemployment rate was dropping. However, we all know that's bullshit. Since Bush took office, our national debt has soared to over 3 trillion, unemployment rates are up, and college tuition, energy, healthcare, rent, fuel costs, etc are raping our wallets on a daily basis. I can barely afford bagels and coffee these days. What the fuck?
Rushkoff: Well, there's two big fallacies on which the pro-market faction is operating, here. The first is that the metrics we use to measure economic growth have something to do with how well people are doing. Economic growth is measured with what they call the GNP, or Gross National Product. This stands for all the economic activity. So if I shoot you and you (or your insurance company) have to pay someone to put your brains back in, that's economic activity and makes the GNP go up.
If a factory comes to a town, puts three small local firms out of business, hires most of the town, pollutes the groundwater making the land unusable for agriculture and then goes out of business putting the entire town out of work, it can still be measured as a positive for GNP. The money spent on mental health, environmental cleanup, and shipping in frozen food all goes into the metrics for growth.
Death is growth.
(Douglas Rushkoff is a guestblogger)