Los Angeles Times

Commentary: GDP, the yardstick of economic success, is choking us and the planet

Some years ago, the Onion ran a satirical piece about a Chinese worker churning out plastic tat for American consumers. Chen Hsien is unimpressed with the useless items Americans seem to crave, from salad shooters and microwave omelet cookers to animal-shaped contact lens cases. "I also hear that, when they no longer want an item, they simply throw it away," he snorts.

Like much in the Onion, Chen's rant is borderline offensive. Yet it rings true about the tendency to seek meaning in endless consumption. All of Chen's production adds to the goal of growth, but not much of it ends up in our possession for very long. Since the 1950s, according

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