From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Archive for May 28th, 2019

The environment, the economy, and general welfare

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This is a bit off my normal subject, but I stumbled on this graphic this morning and wanted to share it.  I haven’t checked the author’s data or methodology, but the graphic generally follows pretty common logic.

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The graphic basically shows that there is a positive correlation between environmental performance and “happiness” (or general welfare, if you will).  That makes some sense.  I was pleased to see how well the United States scored on both metrics, but that’s an aside.

More to the point, this graphic is an example of two effects having the same core feature — economic prosperity and a strong middle class.  The happiness index measures a country’s welfare across fourteen metrics: (1) business & economic, (2) citizen engagement, (3) communications & technology, (4) diversity (social issues), (5) education & families, (6) emotions (well-being), (7) environment & energy, (8) food & shelter, (9) government and politics, (10) law & order (safety), (11) health, (12) religion and ethics, (13) transportation, and (14) work.  All of these are driven by a strong economy.    The EPI, in turn, measures across ten metrics:  (1) air quality, (2) water & sanitation, (3) heavy metals, (4) biodiversity & habitat, (5) forests, (6) fisheries, (7) climate & energy, (8) air pollution, (9) water resources, and (10) agriculture.

Now quite obviously, both of these scales are related to economic success.  Poor countries are less likely to have good education, sustainable agriculture, adequate food and shelter, and work for everyone.  That said, there is a real chicken and the egg issue here.  Does a strong economy drive these factors, or is a strong economy (and I might mention, sustainable national security) driven by these?  For example, does the United States have good public education because we have a strong economy, or do we have a strong economy because we have good public education?

I would note that a lot of folks want to “make America great again” (not withstanding the fact that we’re already pretty great).  However, I would note that our best days — and the spark of great prosperity in our country — were times when we were focused on education, scientific research, preservation of our environment (anyone ever read about Teddy Roosevelt?) and securing, “…the blessings of liberty on ourselves and our posterity…”.

I’m glad to see that the U.S. ranks pretty high on both of these scales.  We should rank at the top. We used to.  We should treat education, scientific research, and environmental protection like national security issues, because indeed they are.

Written by johnkilpatrick

May 28, 2019 at 4:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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