The Right Thing

first_imgThe Great Recession has ended, economists tell us, but don’t expect to be rewarded anytime soon. In fact, unemployment is expected to continue to rise well into next year.So what’s wrong with this picture?The problem lies in the measure used to assess the state of the economy — the gross domestic product (GDP), which tracks the nation’s total production of goods and services. And that measure, according to Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, “will increase slightly over the remainder of 2009.”Now a 290-page report delivered in September by a commission established by French Pres. Nicholas Sarkozy under Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph E Stiglitz and Amaryta Sen has posed a frontal challenge to the unhealthy global obsession with GDP. It points out that GDP does not discriminate between different economic activities. It cites the example of traffic congestion, which has the effect of bolstering GDP because of heightened gasoline consumption, but which also increases air pollution and diminishes the quality of life. GDP also ignores non-market activities, such as the labor of volunteers and home workers and undercounts the goods and services generated by the state. Many of these criticisms have been sounded since the 1970s and over the past four decades scholars have constructed nearly 30 alternative social and economic indicators, most notably the United Nations Development Programme’s human development index (HDI), which since 1990 has factored in life expectancy, literacy and education. In 2007, the United Nations Environmental Programme launched The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) project, whose 2008 interim report estimated the loss of natural capital to deforestation and environmental degradation at between $2 trillion to $4.5 trillion annually. Still policy makers worldwide remain fixated on GDP.However, there may be greater receptivity among governments blindsided by the current economic crisis to new criticisms that the GDP is juiced by inflated asset values and borrowed money. As the commission report points out: “Your measure of output is grossly distorted by the failure of our accounting system…. The time is ripe for our measurement system to shift emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people’s wellbeing.” The French statistics agency is already working to adopt the commission’s recommendations.Economists have long conceded that GDP is not a measure of social progress. For instance, it does not address consumption or income distribution, nor take account of defrayed costs in pollution and depletion of natural resources. The commission advocates incorporating non-material indicators, such as health care, education, work conditions, governance, environment, economic and physical security, as well as subjective wellbeing.This is not just an esoteric economic exercise. As commission chairman Stiglitz said: “What you measure affects what you do. If you don’t measure the right thing, you don’t do the right thing.”It might be good advice not just for nations, but for individuals as well. Indian Americans, who boast the highest median household income in the United States, have long been self-absorbed with their personal GDP. But are we measuring — and doing — the right thing?  Related Itemslast_img read more

Go back to the enewsletter Six Senses Duxton the

first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterSix Senses Duxton, the first city hotel from acclaimed hospitality and wellness company Six Senses, is now open at 83 Duxton Road in historic Tanjong Pagar in the Chinatown area of Singapore. Along with sister hotel Six Senses Maxwell opening later this year, Six Senses Duxton seeks to engage with the surrounding neighborhood and provide a new level of sustainability practiced in Singapore.“Six Senses Duxton aims not only to deliver a five-star luxury hotel experience, but to actively improve the surrounding neighbourhood and natural environment as we do so,” says Six Senses Chief Executive Officer Neil Jacobs. “Singapore has been my home for almost 20 years, specifically the colourful enclave of Tanjong Pagar. Together with our team, I am delighted to bring our unique new urban Six Senses experience to life in Singapore, and for us to enrich and be enriched by the Duxton and Maxwell communities.”In addition to infusing a touch of local culture and quirkiness into each property, Six Senses is known for its commitment to authenticity, community, and sustainability. Six Senses Duxton was originally a row of traditional shophouses, re-designed and re-utilized to harmoniously blend the shophouse aesthetic with the comfort of a modern hotel. As a conservation project, Six Senses Duxton has received the Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Award.“We look forward to welcoming you to experience a hotel that is truly different from the inside out. Numerous processes and procedures are in place to ensure that we truly ‘walk the walk’ in terms of adhering to our commitments to sustainability and conservation,” says General Manager Murray Aitken. “We are focused on the creation and operation of self-sustaining hotels that are supportive of social equity and leave a legacy for future generations.”Six Senses Duxton and Six Senses Maxwell are focused on enhancing social and economic benefits to neighbouring communities. Six Senses supports Singapore entrepreneurs by looking to local suppliers before a search for any product or service is expanded regionally. From in-room minibar items to restaurant ingredients to hotel operating supplies, priority has always been to source and partner locally. In this spirit, exclusive partnerships within the community will be announced in the coming months, giving Six Senses guests additional access to unique local experiences and extending the brand’s reach into the surrounding community.Opening offerGuests can enjoy an exclusive opening offer of 15% savings on the Best Available Rate when booking online through Six Senses’ website. Offer includes welcome amenities and unlimited Wi-Fi access.Terms & Conditions: Valid for stays until 30 June 2018. The offer is applicable for all room and suite categories.Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img read more