Every year, every quarter, every month, the conventional economists either praise the increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or anxiously wring their hands because the economy has not expanded enough. Expansion requires two key elements: a constant search for the lowest possible wages and an unending supply of raw materials – particularly fossil fuels, but also fertile soil and fresh water, and sometimes, creatures who live on the earth and in the seas.
While there are still places on the planet where people will take any job they can get, the ability to extract more energy resources gets riskier, and the environment’s capacity to absorb more waste is fast approaching zero. Reaching the outer limits of expansion threatens all of life on the planet. That reality is why many people are now calling for an “ecological civilization” as an alternative to more exploitation and extraction, one that offers another pathway for human civilization to take.
America’s economy will suddenly grow by $400 billion — roughly three percent –on July 31, when the Bureau of Economic Analysis begins to include in its GDP calculations the value of investments in such intellectual property products as songs, books and movies. The new numbers will reveal that Stephen Sondheim, Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and Ray “Even Stevens” Stevens have been far more important to the nation’s financial well-being than government stats have previously indicated.
This news feels as uplifting as a double dose of premium-grade placebo. But there’s more than feel-good bookkeeping at stake here. Plays, stories, films and music generate wealth – wealth government stats are supposed to measure.
The nation has always struggled with who owns that wealth. In the Wild West frontier of the internet, music, films and news were easily pirated. Now, there’s a newer, quite possibly wilder West,
(This post first appeared on the Drucker Exchange, a daily blog produced by the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University. It appears here with permission.)
The man who proved Karl Marx wrong was, according to Peter Drucker, American management expert Frederick Taylor.
Taylor had the insight that factory workers could be made more productive through improvements in technology and management—rather than merely through longer, harder hours. What’s more, those workers could share in the fruits of growth.
“Without Taylor, the number of industrial workers would still have grown fast, but they would have been Marx’s exploited proletarians,” Drucker wrote in The New Realities. “Instead, the larger the number of blue-collar workers who went into the plants, the more they became ‘middle class’ and ‘bourgeois’ in their incomes and their standards of living.”
For the past 30 years,