Bryden Allen's Website

Current Measures

I think there are three measures by which we currently judge whether a society is good or bad. They are:


1)         Economic Growth
Economic growth, of course, is the main criteria people use to consider if a society is doing well or not. And if a nation is enjoying “economic growth”, then we can clearly visualise that this nation will be a vibrant place to live in - with plenty of opportunities for people to gain employment. So economic growth is definitely a good thing. (Economic growth can be effectively measured in terms of a nation’s GDP.)
            The major reason for economic growth is that it gives employment to most people (as I discussed in chapter 8). Whether this employment is useful to the nation or not is a question that is not asked. Often this employment is not. In our capitalist society, free-enterprise companies provide the employment, which gives us economic growth. And the rich people of the world mostly own these companies. So these rich people will largely decide what this economic growth is used for. So often this economic growth is just used to allow the rich people to become richer. Thus often this economic growth may not be used for the common good.
            Thus at the moment our nation needs people to build the infrastructure, which will give us a sustainable, green energy future. But at the moment there are no people available to do this work. The rich people of our nation are directing these people to do what they want them to do. So economic growth is not being used for what it ought to be used. So we all need to think more careful about capitalism and how we can use our economic growth.
            Another important feature about our current economic growth is that it is not actually sustainable. As time progresses, the world will run short of the resources which our current economic growth uses. And our people don’t actually need many of the items our economic growth produces. So sometime, we will all have answer the question - what should we really be doing with all this wonderful economic growth we have.
            So whether economic growth is good or bad really just depends on what it is used for.


2)         Wealth
Wealth is a feature we tend to associate with individuals rather than with nations. And with individuals, wealth is often used as the most important measure of a person’s success. But the total wealth of a nation is similarly very important and it can be measured.
            The current success our country is enjoying is not due to the hard work we Australians are engaged in - but rather to the natural mineral wealth our country enjoys. So we are exporting this natural wealth at a great speed. And this activity is giving us both employment and a good income. And we have always had a large amount of land, which we have used to produce and export agricultural goods. And historically this has given us a good income. So this wealth of resources has been very useful to us. Other nations clearly envy this wealth of resources we posses. So wealth is a terribly important measure.
            The wealth of a nation in terms of its infrastructure is also important. A nation cannot operate effectively without good systems for: transportation, energy, water, defence, education, medical and governmental facilities. So the wealth of a nation’s infrastructure is also an important measure. The wealth of these governmental facilities can be and ought to be measured. And then the value of these facilities can be compared over time. But usually this process is not carried out because then the government can sell some of these facilities without the electorate noticing too much. I will discuss this problem later in my section in equality measures.
            Thus the total wealth of a nation is a relatively simple important measure.


3)         Foot-Prints
A footprint is an important measure, which the world is now beginning to recognise. This criteria measures the amount of land we need in hectares to support an individual’s lifestyle. The world average footprint is 2.3 ha and the Australian average footprint is about 10 ha. Australia competes with the U.S. to have the worst footprints in the world. In my “Green Living” book, the people’s footprint of my community is only 0.2 ha. With a low footprint, people use less of our world’s resources. So wildlife can then flourish in the rest of the world, which humans are not using. So this criteria is a measure how “green” a person is.
            It is unfortunately very hard to measure an individual person’s footprint, because people use so many different products. And we are not currently informed about how much of the world’s resources are used in the manufacture of these products. Eventually these facts must be given to the general public and then we could work out our individual footprints. But at present these crucial facts are ignored. However sometime the world must take these matters a lot more seriously.
            If humans are ever to go out into space, then we must learn how to live with a much smaller footprint. After all, there aren’t too many resources out in space. Developing smaller footprints is essential for the future life of all mankind.
Thus a person’s footprint is a very important measure to bear in mind.


If you study these measures carefully, then you will realise that these three measures are very limited.
            Thus whether economic growth is good or bad depends on what this economic growth is used for. In a capitalistic world, economic growth is used to provide employment to all people. But in a more socialist world, all the work that needs to be done could be fairly divided between all the people who need the work. So such a society would not always have to strive to get economic growth. Therefore economic growth would no longer need to be an essential feature of life, and it would not be used as a measure of this society’s success. So in the long term, economic growth is a dubious measure.
            Unfortunately the “ high wealth” measure and the “low footprint” measure are quite opposed to each other. Thus wealthy nations have large footprints. And similarly within nations, wealthy people also tend to have large footprints. So the two measures contradict each other. I could explain why this must be the case. But such an explanation would involve considering the logic and the meaning of the ownership of land and its resources. And this is a subject that cannot be discussed. So I won’t try. But these two measures are in opposition.


So hopefully you my reader can now see we do need to consider other measures to guide us in judging what should be regarded as a good or bad society. This is what I will be doing in the following sections.



You might now also like to look back at:

my "Home Page" (which introduces this whole website and lists all my webpages).


My next normal webpage is Equality Measures.


Updated on 11/11/2016.