GDP is the wrong mea­sure

The Saturday Paper - - Letters & Editorial -

The lead story on im­mi­gra­tion (Mike Sec­combe, “In­side the ‘just add peo­ple’ dogma”, May 5–11) was an ar­tic­u­late out­line of what many well-in­formed com­mu­nity groups and lead­ers have been say­ing for some years – that gov­ern­ments of both per­sua­sions have long been mis­us­ing im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy as an easy way of boost­ing gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP). Yet as Mike Sec­combe says, GDP is a truly aw­ful way of mon­i­tor­ing hu­man well­be­ing any­way. Worse still, GDP con­ceals gross in­equal­i­ties in wealth and in­come, and counts the costs of en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age as a pos­i­tive. It is hard to imag­ine a less ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sure of progress. What the ar­ti­cle did not do was ex­plain how this abuse of im­mi­gra­tion is just another ex­am­ple of the un­due in­flu­ence of large in­ter­ests most able to make quick prof­its from rapid pop­u­la­tion growth, such as the big banks and the hous­ing de­vel­op­ment sec­tor. Th­ese in­ter­ests have shown lit­tle con­cern for the health of the bio­sphere, the pub­lic good or the idea of a sus­tain­able fu­ture. Mean­while, the prof­its from high im­mi­gra­tion are pri­va­tised, and the ex­ten­sive costs and im­pacts in­curred are largely so­cialised. Vested cor­po­rate in­ter­ests have suc­ceeded in sell­ing the sham idea of trickle-down eco­nom­ics to po­lit­i­cal par­ties ev­ery­where, and locked that in with lob­by­ing and cam­paign fund­ing.

– Peter G. Martin, Ade­laide, SA

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