I meant to write about this report upon its release last week, but recent events have gotten in the way (and apparently the New York Times is a week late as well). In the article, Stiglitz states the over-arching problem as well as anyone could:
If you don’t measure the right thing, you don’t do the right thing.
Of course, the report is lacking in solutions, and if its authors have been paying attention to more heterodox fields like ecological economics, it doesn’t really add much new.
The report is more critique than prescription. It elucidates in general terms why leaning exclusively on growth as an economic philosophy may yield unhappiness, and it suggests that the incomes of typical people should be weighed more heavily than the gross production of whole societies. But it sidesteps the thorny details of slapping a cost on a ton of pollution or a waylaid career, leaving a great mass of policy choices for others to resolve…
Indeed, the difficulty comes in turning these general principles into new means of measurement. The report notes that its authors concur on the big picture, but diverge on the methodologies to be employed when it comes to factoring in the value of a better education and cleaner skies.
My guess is that they would make much better headway if they would collaborate with those outside the mainstream, like Herman Daly, for instance, who have been thinking about these issues for decades.