Saturday, December 23, 2006


Bobby Kennedy, Cuban socialist?

Hardly. But I was struck by this comparison. In a comment to the post below on the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, reader Paul Lyon posted this 1968 speech by Kennedy (source unknown):
"We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average, nor national achievement by the gross national product. For the gross national product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes, and ambulances to clear our highways of the carnage. It counts special locks for our doors, and jails for our people who break them. The gross national product includes the destruction of the redwoods, and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads.... It includes Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the broadcasting of television programs which glorify violence to sell goods to our children.

"And if the gross national product includes all of this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of public officials.... The gross national product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile; and it can tell us everything about America—except whether we are proud to be Americans."
And, having just read that, I was struck by the comparison when I read this closing paragraph in a Reuters article about the current session of the Cuban National Assembly:
Cuba posted a record 12.5 percent growth rate for the year, using a unique method of calculation that adds free education, medical care and other social services provided by the state.
Yes, God forbid we should include education, medical care, and social services in GNP. Better to include advertising for cigarettes, the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads, and the broadcasting of television programs which glorify violence to sell goods to children.

Why stop here? There's more...

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