1978: as good as it got

by Toby Manhire / 18 July, 2013
According to a “genuine progress” measure, things have been going downhill for 35 years.
The Listener in 1978.

In New Zealand, it saw Muldoon’s re-election, Bastion Point, and an All Black grand slam in the British Isles. And for the world, it was as good as it got. The last 35 years have been all downhill.

“In terms of global prosperity, 1978 was as good as it gets,” says the New Scientist, citing a new study which measures wealth according to the Genuine Progress Indicator.

Unlike the more familiar gross domestic product metric, which has grown pretty well unhindered, GPI attempts a rounder appreciation, and “adjusts expenditure in 26 ways to account for social and environmental costs, such as pollution, crime and inequality, and for beneficial activities where no money changes hands, such as housework and volunteering”.

As the New Scientist and this Forbes.com piece note, the GPI has its critics, but it’s at least not the blunt instrument of GDP.

Why did things slide after 78?

“It is surely not a coincidence that 1979 marked the end of the post-war economic consensus and the rise of neoliberalism, with its rallying cry ‘greed is good’,” says the New Scientist in an editorial headlined “Bring back the spirit of 78”.

“Globalisation, deregulation and unfettered movement of capital have made a lot of people rich, but have come at a terrible cost: environmental destruction and widening inequality. Money matters, of course. But until we stop treating it as if it is the only worthwhile measure of prosperity, we will never have it so good again.”

Maybe that’s not the full story, however. The magazine also notes that, in 1978, “transparent trousers were briefly in vogue”.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


First look: Poké Poké
Health Minister dismisses chocolate fundraiser ban
71842 2017-04-28 09:07:08Z Nutrition

Health Minister dismisses chocolate fundraiser ban…

by RNZ

Should schools be selling chocolate to raise funds? The Health Minister says it's ok, but nutrition experts disagree.

Read more
Film review: Denial
71718 2017-04-28 00:00:00Z Movies

Film review: Denial

by Peter Calder

The dramatisation of a Holocaust denier’s libel suit is both engrossing and moving.

Read more
Danish dramas versus Kiwi soaps
71634 2017-04-28 00:00:00Z Television

Danish dramas versus Kiwi soaps

by Jeremy Rose

A quarter of Denmark's population regularly watch Danish TV dramas, while the highest-rating Kiwi drama attracted an audience of just over 250,000.

Read more
A film fest, a stage classic and other highlights on Auckland's agenda
71779 2017-04-28 00:00:00Z What's on

A film fest, a stage classic and other highlights …

by India Hendrikse

What’s on in Auckland: Crystal Castles, a design and architecture film festival and lots of other excellent events to put in your diary

Read more
How do New Zealanders rank as philanthropists?
71583 2017-04-28 00:00:00Z Business

How do New Zealanders rank as philanthropists?

by Sally Blundell

Kiwis take little persuasion to give to a good cause, but the demands are ever-growing. How much money gets to where it’s really needed?

Read more
The fitness industry is on the eve of digital disruption
71733 2017-04-28 00:00:00Z Technology

The fitness industry is on the eve of digital disr…

by Peter Griffin

As technology changes the way we do business, the effects are extending from the office to most parts of our lives – including how we keep in shape.

Read more
Seeking out San Francisco's tasty gems