23 Jul 2012

Why GDP per head is a flawed measure of economic well-being

One reason is that, being expressed as an average, it hides shocking disparities between the top and the bottom. So, for example, if you look up Gross World Product in the World Factbook at www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook, you find that in 2011 it was 79 trillion US dollars, which is orld population was just approaching seven billion, the average for every man, woman and child on the planet was $11,800 per person per year. 

Compare this to the widely quoted statistic that more than one billion people live on a dollar a day, which is mentioned for example in “Millennium Development Goal 1 – To eradicate extreme poverty” at http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/resources/change_the_world_in_eight_steps/files/goal_1_updated.pdf
Similarly, the UK average hides shocking disparities between the top and the bottom. In 2011 GDP per person per year was average for every man, woman and child on the planet was $36,600 or £23,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. This would be £92,000 a year for a family of four.

18 Jul 2012

‘High pay is good for Britain' ...?

‘High pay is good for Britain. In fact it is vital.’ So wrote Michael Spencer, chief executive of interdealer broker, ICAP, who has a fortune worth half a billion pounds, in the Independent on 10 March 2012. Not true, as shown in this rebuttal of “trickle-down” economics by Stewart Lansley of The Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at Bristol University and the author of The Cost of Inequality: why economic equality is essential for recovery.
See Inequality and instability: why more equal societies have more stable economies at www.cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/CPAG-Poverty142-inequality-instability.pdf

16 Jul 2012

Marx's Ecology

Went to “The End of Oil: Capitalism and the Future of Energy” at Marxism 2012 on 9/7/12: excellent workshop by Gareth Dale. I asked him about Schumacher’s comment that Marx’s labour theory of value takes for granted that the earth provides natural resources free, and he referred me to "Free Gifts” by John Bellamy Foster. a leading proponent of Marxist ecology. Can't find it but Mr Google comes up with “Marx's Ecology: Materialism and Nature", which sets out a “basis for ecosocialism grounded in Marxist science rather than mysticism.”
On my question how the planet can cope with growing population amid dwindling resources he referred me to his article, The growth paradigm: a critique, in International Socialism, March 2012
Further reading also at http://www.green-blog.org/2012/07/04/the-growth-machine-is-killing-our-planet-so-why-hasnt-it-been-stopped/

8 Jul 2012

Germany sets new solar power record

On Sat 26 May, German solar power plants produced "nearly 50 percent of the nation's midday electricity needs" according to a Reuters report:

Germany sets new solar power record - German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour - equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity - through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday … Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation's midday electricity needs.

The point was also mentioned, slightly wrongly, by Bill McKibben, founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, on Democracy Now! on 27 June.

Contrast this with DECC’s statistic that UK renewables contributed 9.5% of electricity in 2011.