2 responses to “Yanis Varoufakis All the good stuff that cannot be measured

  1. …but doesn’t he propose to do the impossible, to measure the unmeasurables? At around the 6:30 mark Varoufakis is talking about how economic quantification creates perverse incentives, rewarding people for maximizing their scores on economic indicators like GDP “to the detriment of all the good stuff that cannot be measured. So we should be aware of the need to quantify. That’s why we need some descriptive data, descriptive statistics, that will give us a sense of how society is served by different policies. But we must make sure that these are multiple quantities. Not one statistic; not the alternative to GDP, a gross happiness index. They should be a series of statistics; we look at all of them. So, for instance, life expectancy. How happy kids are when they come back home from school. The consumption of books — how many people read books? How many people attend concerts? You know, to gain a sense of cultural life. How are our museums doing? So I would favor a menu of different quantities which give us a whiff of the qualities.”

    See what he did there: (1) the good stuff can’t be measured; (2) the good stuff can become the basis of descriptive data and statistics; (3) descriptive data about the good stuff can be quantified. Certainly his “whiff” qualifier shouldn’t be discounted, but GDP likewise gives only a whiff of overall domestic economic productivity — an indicator, not a complete description. Varoufakis doesn’t call for dismantling the gauges; he wants a whole dashboard full of gauges.

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