Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Minnesota Auditor Candidate Proposes Adopting Genuine Progress Index

I've known Annie Young for twenty-five or thirty years. Annie's on the Minneapolis Park Board, and she's a Green party stalwart. When Sam was a baby, she and I were on the board of a since-winnowed food co-op. Annie was the spark plug for the Green Institute. The city wanted to park a garbage transfer station in one of Minneapolis' poorest neighborhoods, and one that was already home to an asphalt plant. Instead of just protesting, Annie and colleagues proposed an alternative for the site, an energy-efficient business incubator built with renewable and recycled materials. That's the green roof and solar panels behind her in the photo.

Now she's running for State Auditor. There was a piece of campaign literature at a co-op where I was delivering Barsy's Almonds. The piece said Annie's for:

     * Sustainability

     * Life Cycle Cost Accounting

     * More holistic economic indicators.

I had a hard time with how she put that last one -- although I knew right away what she's after, and approve wholeheartedly. I still haven't come up with a better bullet point. I can imagine some rube suggesting that Annie wants to print the GDP numbers on hemp paper, or arm wrestle over whether the economy's an Aries or a Sagittarius. That guy wasn't gonna vote for her anyway, but I'd like folks who might to know what holistic economic indicators might be.

Barbara suggested "least cost accounting," but I'm not sold.

The idea is that indices like Gross Domestic Product treat all economic activity the same. If a dollar changes hands over a loaf of bread, blasting the peak off a West Virginia mountain, or a nudie cutie ice cube tray, it registers the same. So a flattened United States where everybody sells pornographic novelties is humming along nicely.

What the candidate is proposing is rating the economy according to how people and our environment are doing. Read an overview at Annie's website, or go to http://www.gpiatlantic.org/gpi.htm to read about the Genuine Progress Index.

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