Evaluating the Grossness of Gross Domestic Product
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 25 Apr 2016
Refugees Per Kiloton (RPK) as a Missing Indicator?
A much abridged version of this proposal was previously published under the title:
Refugees Per Kiloton: RPK as a Complement to GDP (Transcend Media Service, 7 March 2016)
Refugees per Kiloton?
As a complement to the widely cited indicator of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Refugees per Kiloton (RPK) could usefully focus on the number of refugees from a country in relation to the kilotons of explosive to which the country was exposed. Alternatively, Refugees Per Kiloton (RPK) might focus on the number of refugees entering a (European) country in relation to the kilotons of explosives manufactured by that country.
Widespread media coverage continues to be given to the refugee/migrant crisis and to the arrival of large numbers in Europe — if they survive the dangerous voyage. Extensive coverage is of course given to the military action in the Middle East. Separately, appreciative coverage is occasionally given to the employment created within arms manufacturing industries — most notably in Europe. Arms sales only occasionally engender criticism (EU criticises British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, The Guardian, 13 February 2016)
Missing is the link between refugees and the capacity to provide weapons to regions in conflict, or to actively engage in bombarding them. It is seemingly assumed that provision of weapons has little or anything to do with the arrival of numerous refugees in Europe. The production of weaponry is viewed uncritically as a vital and welcome contribution to a national economy — especially welcome in terms of the jobs it creates (Egypt, France To Sign Arms Deal Mid-April, Defense News , 6 April 2016; ; UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia ‘worth £5.6bn under David Cameron’ The Independent, 6 January 2016; Syria’s War: a showroom for Russian arms sales, Al Jazeera, 6 April 2016).
Consideration could be given to the distinction between manufacturing weaponry for a country in conflict (an economic strategy) and using weaponry as a participant in that conflict (a military strategy). Media coverage and debate currently seems to ignore this systemic link, but of course the manufacturing countries derive considerable benefit from the sales of explosives and their delivery — irrespective of the challenge to their societies of incoming refugees.
Through exploration of “gross” and “grossness”, the argument is extended here to enable more general recognition of any problematic “domestic product”, especially including pollution and degradation of the natural and social environment. Refugees per Kiloton could therefore be considered in relation to arguments for a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) proposed as a supplement to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This would be designed to take fuller account of the health of a nation’s economy by incorporating environmental and social factors which are not measured by GDP (Genuine Progress Indicator, Redefining Progress; Definition of ‘Genuine Progress Indicator – GPI’, Investopedia).
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