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Looking Backward: Economics and the Cult of Yesterday

One reason that the nation has not made more progress toward an economic “recovery” is that the people in charge really don’t know what one would look like. The top economists in Washington don’t appear to have asked the obvious question, “Recovery of what—and for what?” Instead they have followed the old drill, tried to rekindle the old flame, and remained wedded to the old guideposts that leave them looking at yesterday and trying to see tomorrow.

Just recently, the president of France realized the stupidity. He has decided that his nation’s measures of economic health need to change to account for today’s challenges instead of yesterday’s. As Washington gears up to spend billions in more “stimulus,” it would help to ask exactly what it is trying to stimulate—and most importantly, exactly what would constitute success.

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Commons

Pre-Distributive Economics and Sufficiency for the Long Haul

Part I: Inequality, The Iatrogenic Spiral, and Systemic Diminishing Returns The problem is that the explosive growth of the global economy has not brought a corresponding increase in global well … More

The Missing Sector

Enlarging Our Sense of “the Economy”

Meet Us at the Zocalo

We humans like to gather, and to be around other people in informal and unstructured settings. For time out of memory, places in which to do so were built into … More

Economic Indicators

  • Looking Backward: Economics and the Cult of Yesterday

    GDP and productivity don’t measure what’s really going on in the economy—or in people’s lives. Jonathan Rowe on measuring what matters.

  • The Gross Domestic Product

    Testimony of Jonathan Rowe Co-director of the West Marin Commons Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Interstate Commerce, Trade and Tourism March 12, 2008 … More

  • Is Happiness a Commons?

    Gunnar Myrdal, the late Swedish economist, once noted the strange tendency of his profession to barricade itself against human reality. In true sciences, such as biochemistry and physics, hypotheses are … More

Economics

About

Headshot of Jonathan Rowe

Jonathan Rowe was a writer who wrote about the commons, diseconomy, economics, economic indicators, corporations, and many other subjects.
Jonathan was an editor at the Washington Monthly magazine and a staff writer at the Christian Science Monitor. He contributed to Harper’s, the Atlantic Monthly, Reader’s Digest, Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, American Prospect, Adbusters, and a host of other publications.

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