Robert Kennedy and GDP

Robert_Kennedy.jpg


Forty years ago, Robert Kennedy, gave a speech about the real wealth of Nations and GDP. Three months later he was assassinated.

What is the GDP, the Gross Domestic Product? A measure of the growth of society? The transformation into money, an abstract concept, of our health, of our time, of the environment? No one has ever calculated the COST of the GDP. The damage of empty sheds, of useless merchandise, of lorries that run around empty like maddened insects, of the destruction of the planet. No one has ever estimated the value of wasted time in queuing, the wasted years working to produce useless objects. Of the years thrown away to buy useless objects created by advertising. The time, The Earth, the life, the family (the only important ones) are concepts that are too simple for the GDP. A monster that devours the world. It eats it and accumulates it. It digests it and transforms it into nothing. The equation GDP=wealth is an enchantment. The useless products do not become useful because someone buys them.

”only when the last river dries up
when the last tree is torn down
when the last animal is killed
only then will you understand that money cannot be eaten.”
Creek Prophecy

Speech by Robert Kennedy, 18 March 1968, University of Kansas.
”We will never find a purpose for our nation nor for our personal satisfaction in the mere search for economic well-being, in endlessly amassing terrestrial goods.
We cannot measure the national spirit on the basis of the Dow-Jones, nor can we measure the achievements of our country on the basis of the gross domestic product (GDP)
Our gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:31 PM in | Comments (10)
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The Cree indian prophecy was actually as follows:
Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find money cannot be eaten

RFK's speech is so relevant today.
Another of his sayings is:
"Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it."

Posted by: peter fieldman | March 27, 2008 10:05 AM


The Cree indian prophecy was actually as follows:
Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find money cannot be eaten

RFK's speech is so relevant today.
Another of his sayings is:
"Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it."

Posted by: peter fieldman | March 27, 2008 10:05 AM


" ... Everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile... " This should be written under every newspaper masthead on the planet. As an antidote to the anodyne NYT mantra: All the news fit to print.

Posted by: Luca Menato | March 26, 2008 08:34 PM


Visionary leaders like RK are what we should vote, but since we are poor judges, the best thing to do is to alternate as frequently as possible our political leaders. On the other hand it would be great if they could rule for one full legislation... and be accountable for what they have ruled!

max ;-)

Posted by: Massimo D'Onofrio | March 26, 2008 03:12 PM


Dear Peppe,

thank you for this important info about Robert Kennedy and GDP. I'm workin on my dissertaition and will refer your Post in this topic!

Posted by: Moneya | March 26, 2008 11:16 AM


In a fairly dated NPR show (9 april , 2004, Fixing GDP: Green Accounting in the United States) Prof. Herman Daly suggests that "A firm always has two accounts: they have a benefit account and a cost account. They have a revenue account and their expenditure account. They never add the two together. That would be the height of silliness. But that's exactly what we do with GDP."

Posted by: michemanz | March 26, 2008 06:02 AM


in 1963 the amendment, “redeemable in gold on
demand at the United States Treasury or in gold or lawful currency at any Federal Reserve
Bank” was removed from the newly printed IOUs (I Owe You). This is very interesting for 2
reasons: first, it’s a the confession that you only get legal money upon presenting the
Federal Reserve Notes - which means that the FRNs are not legal money! Second, it
explains the reason for the assassination of president Kennedy who wanted to get the
control over the monetary system back from the high finance and return it to the electorate.
With executive order 11110 he apparently signed his death sentence 5 months before his
assassination. Even Lincoln was shot for similar reasons one century before and shortly
before his assassination US president Garfield also voiced severe doubts concerning the
currency system. Soon after having criticized the Fed as unconstitutional, a member of the
US congress became the victim of 3 assassination attempts, he survived the first two but
unfortunately not the 3rd one (reported by Bill Meridian).

Posted by: Alessandro Luppichini | March 25, 2008 06:06 PM


Hello everyone,
Show me the moneyyyyyyyyy!
Show me the moneyyyyyyyyy!
Put the money where your mouth is, not in Monte Carlo, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Switzerland, and Caiman, or wherever else these Corrupt Politicians have siphoned the stolen taxes?
GDP is just an undefined quantity, to establish what percentage the so called Pinnacle Of Incompetence uses to keep society afloat (Best estimate between 50-60% therefore between 750 Bil. To 900 Bil.!)
Compare a 14 Trillions economy with 3 Trillion federal budgets and see what Mr. Kennedy would comment on Italy.
Keep on voting the same Idiots.
The future looks bright wear shades.
Thanks

Posted by: Giacomo Chiametti | March 25, 2008 05:02 PM


Hello everyone,
Very awesome and thoughtful speech, written 40 years ago (I doubt it was written by Kennedy though?) in a booming America were the market economy was in full swing and billions were invested to make the US what it is today.
Having sat that, and reading in between the lines, Mr. Grillo is pointing the readers to a shine example of a real democracy at work (Incomparable to Italy?) in the US people invested, research, educated themselves, took risks, evolved and abused entire Countries (From the Middle Est for Oil, South America for the mines, they even bought Panama for the canal and many more examples!).
Although this type of economic success could be in retrospect condoned or justified is an entire different matter, the fact remains that a Kennedy (A member of a dynasty like the Kennedy, that made billions in the thriving industry and banking and any other mean to make money!) noted and clearly emphasized that financial well being is not in half to make a society worthwhile.
This idiosyncrasy can be certainly used as an example, and each individual draw his/her own conclusions, although one fact is certain, the Country in question is at the opposite end of the spectrum where Italy is today.
In the US, you risk and you take your chances every day doing what you do best, in Italy you don’t do anything unless someone tells you to do what you do best!
In the US, equal opportunity works, in Italy equal opportunity is the freedom to choose whose but you have to brown-nose to do anything.
Stop dreaming, these are two different and distant galaxies, and not even related to each other.
The US has Justice, Freedom and the Pursue of Happiness, Italy ????????????????????? TBD later dude.
The future looks bright wear shades.
Thanks

Posted by: Giacomo Chiametti | March 25, 2008 04:21 PM


Hello, it is a real pleasure to write here, since I can be the first one among the english comments :)
This explains how many italians know the english language. Is it the university fault? The system is not working? That is why we don't learn english?
I am sorry to say that is NOT only because of the system's faults but also are the people that chose between honesty and criminality, to be prepared and skilled and to be NOT. People that don't want to compromise and sell themselves to politicians have to emigrate from Italy, because the most of the people in Italy are more interested in having a corrupted system than an honest one.
If there will be a good system, and the people will be honest what will happen? There will be no person able to find a job without skills, there will be no corruption, the people have to pay taxes, follow the rules. What a bad world for millions of italians !!!
Beppe, I think that 80% of you is not Italian, as all the people that have lived so long outside our home country.
Thanks

Posted by: Dino De Blasio | March 25, 2008 11:22 AM


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