Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gross National Happiness

There probably are few people in North America who don’t generally understand the concept of Gross National Product.  Even if they couldn’t calculate the GNP or GDP of their country they conceptually understand that it is the sum of the economic activity in their country and they would likely agree that an increasing GNP is a sign of a healthy country. 

Today the news lead off with stories about the King of Bhutan who apparently just married a 21 year old cutie and then set out on an 80 km walk to meet many of his country’s 700,000 citizens.  Evidently in Bhutan, progress is measured by something called Gross National Happiness.  I like this idea.

There’s some serious problems with GDP/GNP.  Simply adding up the economic activity in a country is not necessarily a good indicator of the well being in that country.  Take the US where we are right now.  There’s lots of economic activity in this country but a lot of it is defense and security related.  Does activity related to putting people in prison really contribute to the overall well being of the country?  Some would argue “yes” because clearly having bad guys running around is not good so putting them away should be good.  But it should also be obvious that a dollar spent on home renovations and a dollar spent on policing have different levels of social impact and may contribute differently to how satisfied the citizens in a country feel.  I’m not sure how Bhutan calculates is National Happiness index but the king sure looked happy walking his 80 km honeymoon and his subjects all looked pretty happy to see him.  That’s in sharp contrast to the news we’ve heard about some other notable solitary rulers like Ghadaffi or Mubarek.

Right now we’re parked in “Weed Heights” just outside Yerington, Nevada.  The name apparently derives from Mr. Weed rather than some noxious species that grows here.  This is evidently the remains of a company town once owned by Anaconda Mines.  Apparently what remains of the mine was recently purchased by Quaterra Resources out of Vancouver.  I’m not sure exactly who owns what though because the manager of the RV Park claimed that “his boss” bought the whole works many years ago, including the RV Park and company housing. 

It’s a pretty spot in a rugged sort of way.  The scars of copper mining are obvious but they blend well into the desolate surrounding country.

We’ve got a few more days left here to finish up a Growsafe project at Snyder Livestock.  After this we’ll head back east and likely stop in Salt Lake City for one night.  We both have some genealogy research to do and we’re not in any huge rush to get to the next job.  One day in the library is all either of us can likely handle.  Then we’ll continue east back to Nebraska and from there probably will turn right and head for Texas.

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