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The question is this: how do we, as a nation, define success?
The dominant answer to this question has a stranglehold on our national priorities and our political discourse.

The drumbeat drowns out any other answers.

It's what we hear day in and day out...

...that success for America = economic growth.

...that prosperity, happiness, health, well-being are all inextricably tied to measures like Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita.

We hear the drumbeat of "Success = GDP" from pundits and from media moguls.

*read more

Democrats beat the "Success = GDP" drum, too.

And Republicans.
BA-DUM. "Success = GDP." BA-DUM. BA-DUM...
And we, the public, have internalized this message: "Success = GDP."

...of every demographic.
...on both sides of the political aisle.
...have internalized the drumbeat.

*read more

*read more

And it doesn't have to be this way.

GDP is an important measure. But we are unhealthily letting such indicators dominate the conversation and the decision making.

*who is Peter Block?

Our prevailing paradigm says that economic growth will inevitable bring prosperity and happiness. But fixating on economic growth as the sole thermoter is a dangerous way to take the temperature of our republic's health.

Yet we steadfastly keep pointing our policies, our discourse and our decision-making towards GDP growth.

Our current paradigm of "Success = GDP" lifts up making more money and revving up production onto a towering pedestal.

Health, love, learning, compassion, friendship have become obscured afterthoughts.

So how can we change the paradigm?

*get the book!


How can we find anomalies to point out?

The answers very well may lie in Civic Health data collected as part of the Current Population Survey.

*download the data yourself!

The data shows that higher GDP per capita does not predict happier and healthier lives.

The data shows that higher levels of civic engagement (voting, volunteering, working with neighbors, dining with family) do correlate with less violent crime, less binge drinking, less economic segregation, higher educational outcomes...

Let's look at data from top metropolitan areas in the US:

What does GDP have to say about violent crime?

GDP does not predict changes in robbery rates nearly as well as does the rate of having volunteered and worked with neighbors.
This data is available onTableau Public

Do high levels of GDP suggest that kids will be stronger learners?

GDP does not predict reading in Grade 4 as well as civic engagement.
This data is available onTableau Public.

If you live in an area of high GDP are you more likely to have social and emotional support?

GDP does not predict the level of social-emotional support that a citizen is likely to have.
This data is available onTableau Public.

Might higher GDP be correlated with less economic inequality?

GDP does not predict the magnitude of economic inequality.
This data is available onTableau Public.

Should we expect healthier behavior from folks living admist relatively higher GDP?

GDP does not predict the extent of binge drinking.
This data is available onTableau Public.

If economic growth and consumption do not guarantee happiness and health then how do we define progress?

*read more

What will we do without focusing the majority of our attention and decision-making on GDP growth?

We might just be better, healthier and happier citizens.

And even if not, we'll be making better decisions without a myopic fixation on "Success = GDP".

Do we want American lives to be defined by ever increasing production and consumption? Or do we want American lives to be defined by meaning and purpose?

Let your sharing be your answer
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Like a New Paradigm

*Check out sources document for links and more information.