1.18.2021 – measure of success

measure of success
unselfish spirit exists
purpose, dignity

It was Bill Clinton who famously said, “It’s the economy, STUPID!”

So call me stupid, but what is the economy and how do we measure it so we can understand if things are good or if things are bad.

The one economic rule of thumb that really made sense to me was that when other people had no money, it was a recession.

When I had no money, it was a depression.

The reporters and commentators on economic news of late seem to feel that the economy is doing okay, even good considering the covid and all.

Maybe even the impact of covid with have good long term economic imact.

Then the reporters and commentators start throwing out the economic textbook alphabet code words like GNI, PPP, OECD, GDP, Nominal GDP and REAL GDP.

By the time the reporters and commentators are done, I have tuned out and I listen for one word.



After all, it’s the economy STUPID.

Then, feeling stupid, I ask good for who and bad for who?

A long time ago, Robert Kennedy questioned the use of economic factors as a measure for a success of a Country.

In one of the first speeches in his 1967 Presidential Campaign, speaking at the University of Kansas and speaking, according to legend, without notes Mr. Kennedy talked about GDP.

(First, a reminder that GDP measures those activities for which money changes hands or for which a monetary value can be attached. Paid childcare is included, but unpaid childcare by family members or friends isn’t.)

Mr. Kennedy said:

” . . .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 can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.


I mean gee whiz just off the bat I love this just for the way Mr. Kennedy said it.

Then I love what he said.

Then what he said just, well, makes me sad.

Mournful, you know what I mean.

So much has happened lately that can tell us so much about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Will Rodgers would imitate President Calvin Coolidge giving a speech (a bit of humor that President Coolidge did not appreciate) and would deliver a text like:

The County as a hole is prosperous. I did not say the whole Country is prosperous but the Country as a hole. Usually, a hole is NOT prosperous. And this Country is in a hole.”

We are in a hole.

A hole that we dug.

As Mr. Kennedy said, “no one – neither industry, nor labor, nor government – has cared enough to help.”

I wonder if we can get out.

So much has is gone and still as Mr. Kennedy said, ” … there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all.”

But Bobby also said, “I think we here in this country, with the unselfish spirit that exists in the United States of America, I think we can do better here also.”

Can we get back there?

Can we go forward to get there?

Make America Great with an unselfish spirit.

For that answer I have to return to Mr. Kennedy’s GDP speech again and to Mr. Kennedy’s quote from George Bernard Shaw.

Some people see things as they are and say, ‘why?’ I dream things that never were and say, ‘why not?’

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