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Julian Huppert MP

From his maiden speech:

But economic growth is not all that we should care about. We know that economic growth can lead to environmental damage, but the issue is broader than just that trade-off.

And so can economic stagnation lead to environmental damage, so can economic shrinking lead to environmental damage. There is, therefore, no direct relationship, no trade off, between growth and damage.

We are too fixated on GDP, and make too much of whether it has gone up or down by 0.2%. It does not measure the things we ought to care about – education, health, or well-being.

Very dangerous indeed that use of the word \”ought\”. For one of the great glories of GDP is that there is no \”ought\” in it. It is the value of goods and services produced…as valued at market prices. Such market prices are by definition what the consumers of those goods and services value them at. We each of us are applying our valuations in each and every decision we make. There is no \”ought\” there, no Great and the Good telling us what we should value and how we should value it. It\’s just us making up our own minds: truly, vastly more glorious than a PhD scientist fresh from a baby kissing exercise telling us what we should value and how we should value it.

If there is an oilspill off the coast, which we then clear up, more or less well, GDP has increased, but I’m not sure any of us would be delighted with that outcome.

Therefore we shouldn\’t clean up the oil spill, should we? Hmm, what\’s that? We clean it up because we are delighted that it\’s cleaned up? You mean that cleaning up oil spills is of value, as we the consumers determine it? Thus it is part of GDP, isn\’t it?

Now, if you\’d delved a little deeper into hte science of economics you would have found that we do know of this problem with GDP, that the loss of the original spill is not included. That\’s because we\’re measuring Gross, see? If we measured Net then the loss of the spill would be included. And the reason we don\’t do that is that measuring Net takes a year or two, as we wait for the numbers to come in from various parts of the economy.

BTW, for those fans of measuring Net….do remember that of the European countries the one that would be most affected is Norway: yes, all that oil and gas coming up is a running down of natural resources.

For we already know a lot about wellbeing – it doesn’t change much with income, above a figure of around 7,000 pounds per annum.

Err, no. This is the Easterlin Paradox, something which has tuirned out not to be a Paradox at all. More accurate, more recent, measurements have shown that yes, rich people are happier than poor, rich societies are happier than poor. And even if that\’s too much to bear, it\’s not £7,000 which is the limit anyway, more like £15,000 (so says Richard Layard at least, one of the gurus of this idea).

So, nice attempt at straying off the reservation of DNA research but perhaps a little more research might be warranted?

And as to this:

I want to make Cambridge a City where people want to live and work. A city where they can afford to live and work. A city at ease with its environment. A tolerant, open city, and a more equal city.

If you want to work to make Cambridge ever so much better then there\’s a certain puzzlement as to why you\’ve moved from the City Council, which deals with Cambridge, to Parliament, which does not.

4 thoughts on “Julian Huppert MP”

  1. I don’t know young Julian, but his father’s rather a tit. But a tit capable of using verbs, I will admit.

  2. Actually no. There is lots of papers that confirm the Easterlin paradox and very few on the other side.

    If you’re talking about the Wolfers paper then that just uses a different technique, not a better technique.

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