Implications of the “God metric”

If there is a God metric (two posts later and I’m talking like a progressive in grand fashion) and that metric is "long-term economic growth," what follows?

Let’s leave aside questions of how such a metric would be defined.

My first thought is that advances in economics aren’t really that helpful. Economics is good at answering questions about which policies will lead to immediate economic benefits, but it’s track record with respect to long-term growth is much more mixed.

This leaves us in a fuzzy realm without many peer-reviewed studies to guide our way. We may – gasp! – have to rely on our own judgments and intuitions (hopefully all right-thinking people have now stopped reading, though I doubt I have my right-thinking readers).

I suspect our biggest concern would be in selecting our population. We’d want a relatively homogeneous population and a relatively smart one (this is why I assume that someone who is in favor of open immigration and increasing long-term economic growth is ultimately un-serious about one of these positions).

Only after we’ve selected the population would we select the system of government – this is not to say that the governmental system is unimportant, I just think it’s second to population. My favorite system would be Singaporean. Of course, if you heart democracy then picking you system of government before picking your population would be retarded.

Then I suppose we’d consider some geographic issues.


2 Responses to Implications of the “God metric”

  1. Handle says:

    Well, I’d have to disagree with you about Economics, but, of course, I’m biased. Remember, there are three kinds of “growth”, and it doesn’t help to aggregate them into one overall concept. They are Technological innovations (improvements in total factor productivity and creation of new possibilities)Capital Accumulation (savings exceeding depreciation), and;Population growth

    The true God-Metric is the real exchange rate between one’s labor and the secured capacity to acquire scarce resources. Some scarce resources are not feasibly expandable (land, waterfront property) or are being gradually exhausted (petroleum).

    The implication being that growth in productivity or population doesn’t matter much to improved living conditions if one’s most expensive form of consumption (like housing in a “good” area) just gets bid up to the point where it absorbs all those gains.

    That’s why a shrinking population leaves the next generation with more capital and scarce resources per capita. The major problems with shrinking populations is the welfare state and monetary system designed to depend on population growth, a country’s aggregate influence and power in the world, and ability to secure its own interests and prosperity of its posterity against foreign predation.

  2. aretae says:

    I’m going to have to half-disagree with commenter Handle.

    Money will effectively purchase 2 things for you: 1. Better absolute quality of life. 2. Better relative status. If you spend all your money on relative status, rising productivity doesn’t help.

    But that only really matters for the already-mostly-elites. For everyone else, who’s worried much more about absolute QoL issues, then productivity is teh 1337.

    And as per Julian Simon…natural resource share is a really crappy thing to worry about. Most goods now are 90+% knowledge, and 10% or less “resources”. Sand-based computer chips, for instance.

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