GDP Doesn’t Produce Life

One of my not so sophisticated jokes is that GDP stands for “Gross Demonic Product”. I have long compared France and the USA in economic matters, as the two republics are highly comparable. Paul Krugman is now of this opinion. As he puts it:

“I think I can usefull [sic] phrase my concerns in terms of my favorite comparison on these matters, which is between the United States and France.

The GDP Economy Roars Ahead In the USA: Nowadays, Americans Pay For everything

The GDP Economy Roars Ahead In the USA: Nowadays, Americans Pay For everything

Why this pair? Because we’re talking about two advanced countries that clearly have similar levels of technological competence but have made very different social choices; in particular, France not only does much more redistribution, it has expanded its redistribution over time, limiting the rise in overall inequality, while the United States has not.

So how have the countries’ destinies compared during the New Gilded Age? French growth actually has been somewhat slower, although hardly the catastrophe the country’s incessant bad press might lead you to expect.”

Overall French GDP is about 20% less, per capita than that of the USA.

However, it’s not clear that it means a lesser way of life.

Take medication: the French can buy the exact same drug, from the exact same manufacturer (French, American, or German), and the same package, and pay a fifth the cost. That’s fifth LESS contribution to GDP. The money contributing to GDP ends up, overseas, in some tax haven. How does that help well-being? By helping tax dodging plutocrats?

Take education: there is more than a trillion dollar of student debt in the USA. That’s a trillion dollar of contribution to GDP… of inextinguishable debt. The French GDP is terrible that way, because there is NO contribution to GDP, in France, from over indebted students.

Take transportation. Contemplate an American going around with his car. The car uses much more GDP per mile than the High Speed trains millions of French use every week. So GDP tells us the greater the efficiency of fast, modern transportation, the poorer a nation.

The USA’s economy has much improved since 2007. Thanks to fracking. Now the USA is the greatest fossil combustible producer in the world, even beating Putin’s petro-state. Fracking the planet to death since 2007 is great for the GDP of the USA. However, scientific studies in 2013 show that methane leaks all over much of the USA: that’s not so great for the planet, as CH4 is twenty, or more, times more of a greenhouse gas than CO2. (CO2 itself acts as a trigger for H2O, itself the prime greenhouse gas.)

The French, in vacation all the time and retired, early on, enjoy life outrageously. That brings a lower GDP. OK, so the French GROSS product is lower than it could be. Does that mean that French refined product is low? Of course not, quite the opposite: the grosser, the less refined.

Is a slave working the GDP per capita of his master up, better off?

France has been handicapped in recent years by artifacts related to her refusal of some methods, such as OGMs. The result? France went down from the world’s second food exporter to fifth. France has also outlawed fracking. An efficient crack-down on corruption (by contrast to corruption perception) has led to the loss of many contracts overseas.

What is GDP? The sum of all moneyed transactions. Thus, when a young French retiree works exclusively in a non-profit fashion, no GDP is generated. But that does not mean nothing is produced. Instead what’s produced is too precious to be moneyed.

In general, in an economy, what is the most precious, cannot be bought, or sold. That’s one thing free market naïfs don’t get.

It’s not a coincidence that Doctors Without Borders, Journalists Without Borders and the like got started in France.

Patrice Aymé


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24 Responses to “GDP Doesn’t Produce Life”

  1. red Says:

    i doubt the social choices alone caused that divergence. obviously lot of other factors in play here, probably more so.

    anyways, if we are just concerned about goodness or society happyness or some such thing, then france seems to rank #20 , with US at #11, just behind belgium #19.

    lets see how the french handle new immigrant wave flooding core EU countries. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average joe there already fed up, and get radical soon.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Subjective notions, such as “happiness”, “corruption perception”, and anything from the Wall Street press about France ought to be regarded with suspicion.

      The French are radical by definition, they feel that life is more interesting that way.

      BTW, France has her borders pretty much locked up, with a number of crafty tricks. So immigration has been systematically less than Switzerland, in the last ten years, although the latter country is about 1/9 of France in population. And Merkel had to open the doors of Germany wide (one million migrants from rest EU in the last year).

      Anyway, I have no idea what “factors” you think of. Lack of fracking strikes me as number one.

      • red Says:

        by other factors i mean the imbalance in market forces (strong’er unions, tax laws driven by political agendas rather than market based, etc.etc)

        I am all for liberal policies, but a balance is needed. In democratic countries they tend to be driven by demagoguery and political agendas. Often times, the sheeple will put in hard work only if they have to.

        Here is how the other side thinks.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Red: You have an article about ALL the countries in the world, and it starts with a banner against France, just France, yes, France, claiming she ranks 40th in a mysterious “social capital” index, and, lo and behold, one “expects better from the country of Liberty Equality Fraternity”.

      Do they need to write “PROPAGANDA” in scarlet red capital letters 3 inches tall, so you can suspect something fishy more readily?

      Anyway, interesting new approach by the Internet mercenaries from Wall Street: FRANCE IS NOT SOCIALIST ENOUGH. Next we will learn that France ranks 113th for French fries, worldwide, and that Amtrak is much faster than the TGV.

    • Dominique Deux Says:

      “lets see how the french handle new immigrant wave flooding core EU countries. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average joe there already fed up, and get radical soon.”

      As an “average joe there”, let me state that what gets me fed up is the ongoing flow of comments like yours, gleefully predicting from across the pond the demise of Western Europe (and very, very specially of France) under “swarms”, “waves”, “onslaughts” of knife-wielding, Koran-chanting, brat-dropping immigrants.

      There is no such wave; immigration happened one or two generations ago, and fluxes are much lower now. The demographic takeover which has US cons chanting in glee in their watering holes is a non-starter – second-generation immigrants, their women having received education, have demographics roughly equal to the host country’s indigenous population.

      In addition France has shown much more spine than, say, the US, UK or Canada in reining in the marginal religious groups which attempted to intimidate and shackle the general immigrant population, and the results are plainly to be seen in the Pew Reports (2009 if memory serves) which showed that the large majority of French Muslims held favorable opinions of Christians and Jews, whereas coddled UK Muslims retaliated with hatred unequalled in any other Western country.

      Of course there are problems and frictions, as usual. But the apocalyptic “predictions” of the kind you obviously revel in are nowhere close to reality.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        I approve your comment 100% Dominique. I view this USA attitude, and often British too, as a form of racism. Moreover, it had a nefarious effect on the French Republic, by weakening its resolve. A related monstrosity is hypocritical American Jews (apparently hoping to be paid for) whining that the French killed the Jews in WWII. This creates real hatred in the USA against the French and my tolerance for it is getting increasingly exhausted. I will repost your comment (to avoid nestling) and add perhaps a longer comment, when I find time (ASAP).

  2. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Red: On that gold site: there is no thinking there, just the usual panic. Just counterfacts. France is the second strongest country in the West, and unions are less strong than in Germany. Just noisier.

    • red Says:

      agree with you that site is heavily biased; it is a gold site :). But there is at least some half-truth to what he is hinting at. There is a reason he didn’t pick on other eu core countries.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        The reason is spelled in countless essays of mine in the last 15 years: France is the core country of the European Union. The EU is the empire of the Franks, rebooted. Even The Economist figured that out.

        Thus, attacking France is attacking the core systems of moods and thought of European construction. That core mentality is the total enemy of unbounded plutocracy, same as in 300 CE. “Unbounded” is an important qualifier here.

        • red Says:

          I pray the good side wins then.

          Its just hard to imagine that historical legacy hasn’t been diluted by “globalization” (pollution) – courtesy of usa culture (via MSM), new age capitalism and market.

          I hope they stick with their agenda steadfastly, and win. As i agree with you, its the society consciousness thats paramount for a sustained, mature/enlightened human species. Though i am struggling to imagine the average joe in france is that smart 🙂

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            France, at this point is politically controlled by the PS, Parti Socialiste: presidency, PM, National Assembly, Senate, Regions, Paris, etc. Seems like the new mayor will be a socialist woman in Paris, etc.

            Franco-Germania, alone can’t do much. The Financial Transaction Tax they are going to pass is diluted, bcs Paris and Frankfurt (fort of Franks) are major financial centers, and they don’t want to lose to London more than they already do. Can’t fight the City and Putin simultaneously.

  3. gmax Says:

    French hatred in the US is just racism. Obama is correcting that bcs now he understands that is why he is called a socialist, snd can’t pass anything through Congress

  4. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Alexandre Dumas took liberties with history, writing a slightly different, thus hyper interesting, universe. I shoot down fiction by sticking to the facts. That can be even more interesting One can construct an entire branch of philosophy centered on history, hard core.

  5. red Says:

    racism and glee ? wow. Its like either you agree with us, or we call you racisst 🙂 typical french elitist stuff.

    Its just facts,france is no ideal country as far as economical/financial markets concerned (the topic of this article).

    You make it sound like the voters in france selflessly vote for the betterment of all humanity (let alone immigrants). And the politicians there are some kind of saints (not driven by vote politics), with a clear cut plan for the future of EU and humanity.

    lets keep the dream alive.

    • Dominique Deux Says:

      Red what’s typical is your use of the word “typical”. Also your agility in changing the subject from immigration (my topic) to the economy (yours).

      As for your facts, apart from the existence of Forbes Magazine, they don’t amount to much.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      “Its just facts,france is no ideal country as far as economical/financial markets concerned (the topic of this article).”

      This is a vague accusation that cannot be supported on even one detail (or then roll one out). Unfortunately, the French invented, and taught, the most advanced math used in the financial markets (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) One of my friends, a bright mathematician, ended among the financial pirates in London (he is still there).

      Basically, anything the USA can do, France can do. No exception. France is the only country like that (even the UK buy its strategic nukes systems in the USA; France makes its own).

      This goes a long way to explain anti-French racism in the USA.

      Professional French politicians are self glorifying creeps who should not exist… But they are not as bad as those of the USA. To exterminate both, we need to change the system thoroughly.

      I have long advocated a Swiss like system… And the Swiss are laughing… With 3% unemployment.

      It’s all about keeping the dream of progress alive.

  6. Dominique Deux Says:

    Sorry Patrice this is completely OT but I thought you might be interested:

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks DD, I will look into it. I think that everything is On Topic. Even poetry, and especially poetry, in which I do not indulge enough as much as other do (see Big Bang and Quantitative Easing).

      Clearly anything technological is On Topic. All the problems we have come from, and go to, technology.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Excellent. I have tried to find the details about the nEURon, for years, but they are keeping rather tight. Meanwhile the French army is buying top notch USA combat drones. Discreetly.

  7. no meat derivatives Says:

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
    I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

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