December 29, 2020
Measuring What Matters to Maine:
A 25-year look back
In this short video Craig tells some history from his front row seat in Augusta, Maine where he once authored Measures of Growth and other indicators reports.

He even shows us his first weekly newsletter.

He explains how choosing what to measure serves as a foundation for making public policy.

Craig also mentions the GDP and describes some national attempts in the 1990s to install alternative measures of national prosperity.

Let's take a broader look.
At more than just dollar value.

Our two leading national indicators of success – the Dow Jones and the GDP – are out of touch with American reality.

Just last month the Dow Jones Industrial Average (a composite index of the stock value of 30 large companies) hit an all-time high, having about doubled in the past 5 years. Yet for most Americans it doesn’t feel like prosperity has doubled in the past 5 years.
And in spite of the recent covid drop, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product: the value of all goods and services sold in a specific time period) has also steadily increased over the past five years.

By the GDP measure, America looks like the biggest and the best in the world. A staggering 24% of the global economy is right here. Yet also right here we have higher poverty rates and higher infant mortality rates than almost any other developed country in the world. And we pollute more per person than in any other country. According to these and other broader measures of quality of life, it doesn’t feel to me like we are better off here than in other places.

Rather than hearing and reading about the Dow Jones and GDP* all the time, I would rather we looked at a broader set of indicators, perhaps rolled into an index (several measures mathematically combined into a single number).
The World Happiness Report combines 33 indicators from the following 9 domains into a single index: Living standards, Education, Health, Ecological diversity and resilience, Good governance, Time use, Cultural diversity and resilience, Community vitality, Psychological well being.

According to the latest index, the United States ranks 18th in the world in terms of happiness.

Instead of focusing so intently on initiatives to boost the economic numbers, I think Americans would be happier if we paid more attention to public health, community building, environmental protection, and other things known to contribute to happiness.

* Whenever news sources talk about economic growth or the size of "the economy," they are talking about GDP.

Newsletter Survey Results

Last week I asked you to do a simple survey and 30 of you did. Thank you!

I have read and analyzed all the comments and looked for patterns and nuggets of truth. There's a lot about the newsletter that you like, especially that it's honest, humble, positive, practical, and relevant. Some of you wish it was shorter. Some of you want more how-to techniques and tips. There was much encouragement and some genuinely helpful advice. I am very grateful.

If you want to be nerdy and have the time, here's a link to all the comments.

Thank You
Street Workers!

You know who you are.

The soup kitchen volunteers. The people who work in shelters and pantries. The case managers. The peer support workers. The volunteer cooks and the volunteer fundraisers and the volunteer coat collectors. The licensed clinical social workers.

The person who gave Mark this meal on Christmas.

Thank you.
To Help You Get Along
Written and published by Craig Freshley. Thanks for walking along with me.
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