I have not totally verified the source of this quote I came across, but several blogs say it’s from Robert Kennedy in 1968, shortly before his assassination:
We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average, nor national achievement by the Gross National Product. For the Gross National Product includes air pollution, and ambulances to clear our highways from carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. The Gross National Product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads … It includes … the broadcasting of television programs which glorify violence to sell goods to our children. And if the Gross National Product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials … the Gross National Product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America — except whether we are proud to be Americans.
RFK seems to have some pretty serious concerns about the environment, crime, violence on TV, the effect of TV on kids, education, health care and warfare. It sure is some sterling rhetoric, but what really strikes me is that we also have all those problems today, but we seem to think they were invented just for our torture. Well, here’s proof that they were exactly the same 40 years ago. (Except for the “carnage” on the highways – we seem to have beaten that one.) I imagine, that adjusted for technology, they were the same 400 years ago, too.