When the French call for a revolution you would think that people would stop and listen. After all they have been at the centre of one of the most well known revolutions in history, and who has not heard those famous words “… let them eat cake” which started it all!
This is exactly what French President Sarkozy recently announced at the launch of a report he commissioned into the measurement of economic progress, when he called for world leaders to join in a revolution. According to the report the “Gross National Product” or GDP that is currently used to measure the health and growth of world economies is flawed, and it recommends looking at household income, consumption and wealth rather than national production for a better reflection of material living standards.
“For years, people said that finance was a formidable creator of wealth, only to discover one day that it accumulated so many risks that the world almost plunged into darkness.” Sarkozy said. “The crisis doesn't only make us free to imagine other models, another future, another world? It obliges us to do so!”
According to Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz who co-authored the report, Governments’ addiction to inflating the GDP of their economies has endangered the planet by encouraging risky behavior that has led to overconsumption. And it is overconsumption that is at the root of the large scale environmental damage that is causing alarm bells to go off all over the world.
The report further advises that more prominence be given to non-market activities such as house cleaning, crime statistics, the distribution of income and wealth, as well as access to education and health. According to Stiglitz, France’s ranking would rise in comparison to the US because of better access to health care, and because it has a lower percentage of people in jail.
So far it does not look as if the rest of the world is very impressed by this “second” French revolution, but the French President is unperturbed and will be implementing measures to change the way it measures progress. It seems as if the lessons of history has not been lost on the French.
“Vive la révolution"!”