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Updated on November 21, 2015

Holistic Economic Measure

Ken Pentel of the Ecology Democracy Network first introduced me to the concept of the Geniune Progress Indicator (GPI) one afternoon when he called me to invite me to one of their meetings. The Gross National Product (GNP) or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) does not measure our overall social and ecological health and prosperity. It focuses on our consumption levels only and is very limited in its scope. The inventor warned us that it was limited in its scope and does not measure society's overall health and well being.

There are economic and social costs associated with destroying the environment. The GPI measures this cost while the GNP does not measure these costs to society.

North Minneapolis is located very close to the garbage burner near Target Field, a sports field for baseball and other events. The asthma rate is very high in North Minneapolis. One of the reasons is because it adjacent to Target Field and the garbage burner. During events the burner is turned off only. North Minneapolis has one of the highest asthma rates in the city. This needs to change.

The county and city are trying to get more of the populous to recycle and compost their organic waste and trash. Imagine if Mayor Betsy Hodges and the City Council factored in the environmental costs in the city's budget. The City Council and former Mayor R.T. Rybak decided to institute a one sort recycling system to increase the recycling rate. Over the next few years they will develop more neighborhood organic composting collection sites. Most of our waste is comprised of organic wastes from our kitchens. This compost will be used by the city in our city parks. This is a practical application of social change based on the fact there are economic, social and health costs associated with air pollution. So you see it very important that you recycle because it helps our economic and over health and well being.

The GPI measures positive factors, such as homemaking, health, environmental sustainability and volunteer work which are not being considered in measuring our economic health now. Homemaking and volunteer work comprise the part of our economic health which are not usually measured in economic terms. If you paid homemakers for their labor, it would be in trillions of dollars. Many homemakers also do volunteer work which benefits many of our schools, spiritual communities and non-profit organizations. We do not always recognize the value of homemaking and volunteer work like we should. We often take their work it for granted. The GPI factors in these two very important contributions to the health and well being of society.

Economic sustainability is not rewarded by the current economic system. Excessive consumerism is greatly encouraged. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, centers on this worship of consumerism in American society. It is ironic that the day after we give thanks for our family and friends we are obsessed with extreme consumerism. People line up for hours just to buy products (at reduced prices) for the holiday season for friends and family. Doing volunteer work together is more satisfying than this excess consumerism. Helping others is always better for everyone.

One holiday, Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, promotes re-gifting Christmas presents to others and those in need of the basics, such as food, clothing and shelter. Items which are recycled increase the GPI. Long term thinking is what our society need to promote. The GPI recognizes ecological health and well being as a positive factor in our economy.

Maryland, Washington state, Colorado, Oregon and Hawaii have adopted the GPI along with Canada, France and Bhutan to measure overall economic health and well being. For those who do not know where Bhutan is, it is located in the Himalayan Mountains.

Just recently a members of the Minnesota State Legislature has developed a bill which focuses on the GPI. Ken Pentel educated all members of the legislature on the need for such an economic indicator. To find out more information about the GPI contact him at or by calling 612-387-0601. His mailing address is: Ecology Democracy Network, P.O. Box 3872, Minneapolis, MN 55403. He leads the Ecology Democracy Network which focuses on ecological concerns.

Hinduism promotes the idea of first do no harm. This is a philosophy of the network. The Vedas are a group of texts which first described the ecosystem of our planet. Hindus should promote ecology in all of their daily practices. Our economic health is truly connected to our spiritual health and the values of ecology. Mother Lakshmee is connected with our spiritual as well as our economic wealth. We just celebrated Diwali. She is a key figure in this celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Evil exists because we allow it to exist and tolerate it. Evil exists when good people do not speak up for the ecology of the planet. When we change our individual practices, the leaders and businesses will follow. Consider changing one of your habits and start doing something ecological which you are not doing now. You will realize that it is good for the ecological health of society in the coming new year.




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    • radhapriestess profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks for reading, Venkatachari. Glad you appreciate the topic and what I am writing about. Best wishes to you, too.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Radha ji, you are great. You have presented very important topic here on Ecology and Health. People should be more serious about all these things. Daily, we dispose off so much waste. While doing so, we should be conscious of the bad effects of such waste if it mingles with the atmosphere around us. You rightly pointed out that people and administration should think about it and try to preserve a healthy atmosphere on this planet. Many, many thanks and my best wishes.


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