Entrepreneur and presidential candidate Andrew Yang spoke at MSNBC's climate change forum Thursday about how he would change how the GDP is measured to include measurements of health, life expectancy, and environmental sustainability.
Yang said measuring economic health with GDP, the stock market, and the unemployment rate "is grossly misleading."
"Right now if you were to have pipes that were poisoning kids, that actually shows up positively in GDP because you have to spend money replacing the pipes. Hurricanes score positively in GDP. So think about how messed up that is?" Yang said. "GDP went up. Why? Because we had to rebuild the town. That doesn't make any sense."
ANDREW YANG: So right now we have this GDP measurement that we made up 100 years ago, and it is leading us in the wrong directions. So, as your president, I am going to go down the street to the bureau of economic analysis and say, "hey, GDP is 100 years old -- kind of outdated." Let's modernize it and include things like our childrens' health and success, which is tied to climate change, clear air and clean water, obviously tied to our environment, our health and life expectancy, tied to climate change, mental health and freedom from substance abuse -- all the things we care about, we actually make the new measurements of economic progress.
And while this sounds almost too good to be true, it is very straightforward. You don't even need Congress for this. You have the Bureau of Economic Analysis and their measurements, you say, guess what, new measurement: American Scorecard includes these things. This way, we can actually put environmental sustainability into our actual "GDP measurement." This is something you can do very quickly and it is very powerful because you can't make progress if you don't have a baseline.
Right now, we have three measurements of our economic progress if we turn on CNBC and the rest:
-- GDP, which is going the opposite direction of life expectancy, so which do you listen to?
-- Stock market prices, which correspond to the top 20% of Americans.
-- Headline unemployment rate, which is grossly misleading because it does not include people who drop out of the workforce or people who are underemployed or doing gig work.
So these three numbers are giving us a falsely positive impression of how we're doing. If you dig a little deeper you start finding all of the problems, and so as president, I would update our measurements, and this would have a huge effect on us being able to make progress on climate change.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC: Because you're suddenly see something different. Right now you have the president touting unemployment numbers, stock market performance, and GDP. So if a martian showed up and said, "Oh are these your measurements? You're doing very well." You're saying change how we look at how we're doing as a society and an econony, and suddenly we'll get a different reading and say, "we're in trouble."
YANG: Exactly, right now if you were to have pipes that were poisoning kids, that actually shows up positively in GDP because you have to spend money replacing the pipes. Hurricanes score positively in GDP. So think about how messed up that is? GDP went up. Why? Because we had to rebuild the town. That doesn't make any sense.