Traditional Measures
Traditional measures

Talking Points
  • Traditional view sees unconnected boxes
  • Resulting measures often work at cross purposes

Some of the measures or indicators we just discussed are traditional measures:

  • How much money do you make?
  • What is the unemployment rate?
The traditional measures that we use tend to show a community as disconnected segments: the environment, the economy and the society. An environmentalist wants to improve air quality. A business person want to increase profits. The health professional wants to improve people's health. However, the traditional ways we use to measure progress in these areas don't take into account the connections among these three areas. As a result, the three groups may work at cross purposes. For example:

  • Shutting down a factory may improve air quality, but if many people are out of work they won't be able to afford health care.
  • Ignoring air quality regulations may improve profits in the short term, but poor air quality can affect worker health, which can in turn cause health insurance costs to go up and therefore hurt profits in the long run.
(Ask participants to suggest other common measures that may work at cross purposes. One example is laying off workers to improve profits when the stockholders are pension funds owned by the workers or their parents. Another example is poor water quality requiring companies to pay more to clean the water before they use it. A third example is increasing the number of jobs that pay minimum wage and provide no benefits, which may actually increase overall poverty.)
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Copyright © 1998 Maureen Hart. All rights reserved.