From GDP to GNH to Gross Numbingly Imbeciles (GNI)

Economics is a “social science” and [without any second doubt] it is unabashedly hijacked by the statists, econometricians and ignoramus. In this century, it is vehemently made to appear as a “rocket science” and leaves no influential stone unturned for the sheeples to consider it as a “dismal science”. Economics is simply about demand and supply, so you may say ‘microeconomics’, according to me. I disbelieve that there is any necessary requirement to establish government, in the society, and legitimize it to govern the economy. In fact, government is not only a camouflaging economist but also a “violent” monopolist meant to catalyze a system of imposed order than a society of spontaneous order. This so-called altruistic attitude of government and its aptitude does not let economics to liberate itself from the matrix of static imbecility. Thus, the altitude of partnering with macroeconomics is escalating and due to this the status of economic freedom is shrinking against inflationary statism. I am not an economist; neither I am brainwashing you to favor it. I am essaying my thoughts with reason against economic irrationalism. I failed in this subject, during my schooling. I am proud to be anarchist, today, and I valiantly aspire to guard this subject against statists and minarchists. You know, do not tread over this subject. This article critically examines a recently hyped economic indicator called GNH (Gross National Happiness) and I perorate its exodium with logical reasoning to dare to ratiocinate it as Gross Numbingly Imbeciles (GNI)

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In the ongoing march of scientism, the flawed worldview that everything in life is ultimately reducible to numbers and equations, researchers have been increasingly interested in attempting to measure people’s happiness in order to determine which economic and social policies best enhance human well-being. Now, seems legit? The assessment of gross national happiness (GNH) was designed in an attempt to define an indicator and concept that measures quality of life or social progress in more holistic and psychological terms than only the economic indicator of gross domestic product (GDP). GNH has only been officially used in Bhutan, where a Gross National Happiness Commission is charged with reviewing policy decisions and allocation of resources. It is so sickening to behold that this indicator indicates to syndicate away the salient potency of methodological individualism. In a market or in reality per se, every individual is a “homo economicus” entity. It is not a crime to think best for self, but it is surely a moral crime to aggregate all these entities into an opinionated basket of generalized statements, statistics, maths and unscientific judgments. Indicators like GDP, etc may sound sweet, but mainly the users of this wing are unknowing the implications of government interventionism. On synonym grounds, unlike “materialistic” GDP, GNH aggregately calculates the spiritual values, happiness, etc. enjoyed by an individual through survey methodology. I fail to grasp; when happiness is a state of mind, I wonder, how can one quantify this quality? Judging on this quantification, the GNH formulas are situationally designed to mould the government policies accordingly. How imbecilic, isn’t it?

GNH is a coruscating attack on subjective theory of values. Economics professor Deirdre McCloskey also criticizes GNH as unscientific, saying that “Recording the percentage of people who say they are happy will tell you… [just] how people use words,” making the analogy that society could not “base physics on asking people whether today was ‘hot, nice, or cold'”. Sadly the problem comes from the inherent impossibility of measuring human emotion on a numerical scale, and then ALSO comparing those numbers with those of other individuals or groups of individuals. Attempts to measure happiness boil down to nothing more than attempts to compare one person’s value scale, or their accumulated utility, to that of another. As such, it is a hopeless endeavor. Even without resorting to the principles of Austrian economics, this should be plain to see simply by thinking through how such a process of measurement would even work.

10884942_813957921983703_1314630879_nWe cannot see into the minds of other people, and so the only way to find out how happy they are is to ask them. The problem is, it’s a question that no one is actually capable of answering with any degree of accuracy. We can’t tell others how happy we are, because we don’t know how happy we are. Not really. We can say that we feel “pretty happy “ or “really miserable” but to assign a numerical value, something that can be added  or multiplied, is impossible. The reason for this is that happiness, like so many things in life, is relative, and is based on our other experiences. The only thing we can compare our current happiness levels to is our previous happiness levels. There are always people who have been both more happy, and more unhappy, than we have ever been. Without those experiences, we cannot compare our own levels of happiness to those of others.

Imagine a set of parents who love their children. They are reasonably happy, but not ecstatic. Then their children are kidnapped, sending the parents spiraling into despair. After a tense few days and the efforts of a crack hostage negotiator, the children are returned to their parents and all is well. At this point, the level of happiness experienced by the parents will be far greater than it was before the children were kidnapped, although they are no better off than before. They simply have a previously unexperienced horror with which to compare their current emotions. Their happiness, therefore, is not a proxy for well-being. The same problem occurs with cross-country comparisons of happiness surveys. People who have spent their whole lives in western democracies cannot conceive of life in a remote African village where poverty, disease, and famine are a normal way of life. Nor could the inhabitants of that village imagine what life would be like for us, with all our luxuries. There is no way that our happiness levels can be compared, because our frames of reference are entirely different from one another. It would be like asking someone who has never tasted an orange whether they preferred its flavor to that of an apple.

Happiness is not a quantifiable metric, I still think, and its use as a policy variable can only drag us further down the misguided road of scientism and away from the true principles of economic science.

Suggested readings

An Introduction to economic reasoning by David Gordon

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises

Lessons for young economists by Robert Murphy

Irrelevance of maths and stats in economics by Jaimine

About Jaimine

An anarchist habituated with critical thinking and passionate to liberate many subconscious minds.

2 Comments

  1. It is true – GNH is just a new name for “public good,” and as we Austrians know, that concept makes no sense except in the Pareto sense. As any good Rothbardian knows, outcomes can be ranked, but they are not 1) interpersonally comparable, 2) nor can outcomes be put on a ratio scale. To claim that I like this beer two point five times as much you enjoy that coffee is patently absurd.

    Yuva’s article is good. My favorite classic attack on utilitarianism is the first chapter of Social Statics by Herbert Spencer – “The Doctrine of Expediency.” http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/273

  2. Lol. The only part of this post that was readable was plagiarized, and I mean copied word by word 😀
    http://mises.ca/posts/blog/the-happiness-problem/

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