This week Gordon Brown has been saying that nuclear power stations must be built, the 3rd runway at Heathrow must be built (‘Our prosperity depends on it. Britain as a world financial centre must be readily accessible to the world’ Guardian front page 26/11/07) 

The account below is a great reminder of the farce of the GNP.

“Today, in both the Hebrides and the Solomon islands, hardly any of the fish consumed has been self-caught. Most is purchased. Processing factories in Stornoway sometimes even import from the mainland! The fish from our waters are as likely to be landed in Vigo in Northern Spain as in Mallaig in the West Highlands. And yet, in terms of our Gross National Product (GNP), we are better off. In the days when people like me caught enough for the pot, we had a socially supported initiation ritual into adulthood. But we were classed as poor becaue nothing went through the cash economy. Now it is different. We buy fish, and it counts as economic activity. We buy fuel oil for the boats instead of using our muscles to row, and again, it measures as economic activity. Meanwhile, young people get drunk, inject drugs, fight, smash windows and otherwise create some sort of rite of passage, no matter how perverse. This too adds GNP. Repairs to vandalised shop fronts also count as ‘wealth’ in national accounting. So do the hospital casualty services, and the alcohol consumed, and the policing and court time.

The use of GNP to measure wellbeing is an astonishingly crude yardstick of national accounting. It reflects the triumph of the cash economy in the years following the end of the Second World War – the triumph of quantity over quality.”

from Soil and Soul: People versus corporate power – Alastair McIntosh

An amazing book which documents how the people of Eigg overthrew the power of the Landlord and a striking challenge against a multinational quarrying company.