When we measure economic development we tend to use crude economic data and compare per capita income in determining our financial health and prosperity. Non monetary aspects such as the value of voluntary work and our general community wellbeing are ignored. Our current crude monetary measurement makes no allowance for replacement and reinstatement of consumed finite resources. Its' an aggregation of honest and corrupt activities indistinguishable between those upholding human rights and those involved in abuses.
What's the solution? Introduce the term 'Social Capital'. By that I refer to the value of a community network of social interaction, the civic responsibility and trust that exists within communities, an expression of values and whether or not they are being upheld.
You might say this as a somewhat vague notion but I think it needs urgent debate, definition and measurement to determine our current level of wellbeing within communities of people.
I suspect with the current "War on Terror" our community standards overall and values are decreasing at an alarming rate in many countries, but the politicians have no fears, as our measurement is anecdotal, a confusion of sorts, characterized by a vague sense of unease and some irate bloggers. Such unease often surfaces long after the events that preceded it were suitably quarantined away from the public eye.
If you would like to understand better what's meant by social capital and its progress a good source is social commentator Author Robert D Putman. Click here.
In Australia the Commonwealth Bureau of Statistics has 'Social Capital' as 'Work in Process'. Click here to visit their site.
I hope one day we will be measuring 'Social Capital' and ensuring that it is showing an improved trend just like unemployment, compared around the world as a matter of course. We need international standard for social capital and I hope one day it's included as part of Foreign Policy.
I am not saying its a panacea for all ills, rather an improvement on the current fatally flawed system of economic measurement.