Improving the Measure of Economic Progress in the US

I applaud the concept described in the Opinion page article "Needed: a Score Card on National Growth," May 3, of reflecting in the gross domestic product (GDP) changes in the quality of the nation's natural and social environment. However, the author makes clear she has definite ideas on what constitutes progress in these areas. When self-appointed experts set the value of economic goods, the result is at best economic measurement rendered useless by the biases of the measurers, and at worst economic col lapse.

If the author's goal is improving measurement of economic progress rather than pushing her political agenda, she would work toward creating markets for environmental and social goods. This would automatically bring these commodities into the GDP, while insulating this important economic statistic from the political whims of government economists.

The Bush administration took a step in this direction by creating a market for pollution permits among major air polluters. This concept should be extended as rapidly as possible to other areas where the GDP does not account for the environmental and social costs of economic activities. Eric J. Klieber, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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