Those of you that have enjoyed that philosophical drink of choice – full-bodied red wine – with me, knows that I for quite some time have been annoyed that a country’s success all too often is measured solely by its GDP, or more specifically its GDP growth. It’s very important, no doubt. But how growth got its magically encompassing allure to reign alone above all others I never quite understood. How did education, health, governance, personal freedom, security and all these other issues, that any citizen in any country of any culture throughout time have valued so much, simply become subjects to Emperor growth?
Moreover even the most fanatic growth supporters must surely realize that a healthy, educated, well governed, secure country has better opportunities to increase its growth? A healthy population works more and better, an educated populace drives advancement, a non-corrupt, non-discriminating, law-upholding government serves as a guarantor for pacta sunt servanda (keeping agreements – rule of law). And that feeling secure is just a basic human emotion that needs fulfillment. For some more than others…
Legatum, “a private investment group with a 25 year heritage of investing in the global capital markets, focused on emerging and frontier markets throughout much of our history”, produce a Prosperity Index. I will not bring out the over-achieving Political Scientist in me and bore you to death over methodology, variables, measurements, causality etc. I will simply ask for you to click two links below.
The links will seem to some of you as an alternative reality. (No. It’s nothing to do with teleportation. Sorry!)
It is another lens through which one can view the world. (No. X-ray glasses will never exist. Sorry!)
I’m not saying it’s a perfect model. Then I’d be as inflexible as the growth fanatics. Also, perfect models don’t exist. They might be super, but eventually even supermodels grow old and lose their appeal compared to new sexier, trendier more attractive looking supermodels. Hmm… What were we talking about again?
I’m not saying that the Scandinavian welfare-state model is for everyone either. The Aussies in fourth place have done well without it. All I’m saying is, let’s bring in some nuances. Before you click the links, where would you place the G8 countries; Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK and the US? Where would you place your country?