Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez didn’t appreciate the recently released data that showed the Venezuelan economy has slipped into a recession. So what’s a Socialist leader to do? Create a new economic gauge, one that is “Socialist-friendly.”
“We simply can’t permit that they continue calculating GDP with the old capitalist method,” President Chávez said during a televised speech to members of his party Wednesday night.
“It’s harmful,” he added.
So what caused Mr. Chávez’s deep displeasure? For one, new data showed Venezuela’s GDP fell 4.5 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year making it the second consecutive quarterly decline. This data, moreover, was provided by the Venezuelan central bank.
It remains unclear what Chávez’s new measure would look like. Either way Chávez’s push for an alternate to the GDP is far from innovative.
In 1972, for instance, Bhutan’s former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck coined the term “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) as an alternate to GDP. This measurement sought to quantify well-being and happiness through measuring economic wellness, environmental wellness, physical wellness, mental wellness, workplace wellness, social wellness, and political wellness.
The GNH never really caught on, due largely to the (intentionally) subjective nature of the measurements. I have a feeling what led to the GNH’s failure will be exactly what attracts Chávez.