Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Robert F. Kennedy on what GNP means

Below is a quote from Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy on what the Gross National Product means and more importantly what it does not mean, from a speech given in 1968.

"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.


"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. 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. It 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 tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."

- Robert F. Kennedy Address, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968

You can listen to the speech in his own voice on youtube at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77IdKFqXbUY

How sad that such a great leader was assassinated so soon, in fact soon after that speech was delivered! Here is a short biography taken from Wikipedia.

"Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968), also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic Senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism, he was a younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and acted as one of his advisers during his presidency. From 1961 to 1964, he was the U.S. Attorney General.
Following his brother John's assassination on November 22, 1963, Kennedy continued to serve as Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson for nine months. In September 1964, Kennedy resigned to seek the U.S. Senate seat from New York, which he won in November. Within a few years, he publicly split with Johnson over the Vietnam War.

In March 1968, Kennedy began a campaign for the presidency and was a front-running candidate of the Democratic Party. In the California presidential primary on June 4, Kennedy defeated Eugene McCarthy, a fellow U.S. Senator from Minnesota. Following a brief victory speech delivered just past midnight on June 5 at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan. Mortally wounded and unconscious, he survived for nearly 26 hours, dying early in the morning of June 6."

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