The normative question refers specifically to the way we measure nations’ economies. The typical indicator of a ‘healthy’ or ‘competitive’ economy is first and foremost its gross domestic product (GDP). This measurement is a measure of size, not quality. The bigger an economy the better it is at sustaining itself, providing jobs and generating wealth for those inside and outside of it. On the surface this may be true, but I can’t help but wonder if we should be striving primarily for a larger economy. Looking at China and its incredible growth in GDP, even with its recent slowdown, one may think it’s an enviable economic giant but this comes at an ecological and social price. We’ve all heard of China’s pollution problems, but it also suffers from growing income inequality and sharp differences in the quality of life amongst its citizens. One might say that the US is the better side of the coin and although its issues may not be as chronic as China’s, it is clear that the overbearing goal in American politics and society is economic power and gluttony. This might make you richer but it cannot make you happier. Our economies, notwithstanding the recession, are flourishing at our expense as human beings who, despite what we are told in the media, are simple and ultimately unsophisticated creatures who are sadly misguided by our very natural urge to conform to society, a society which is increasingly unnatural. I don’t think the capitalist model is at fault here, but like all religions, economic models can be interpreted in a whole manner of ways and it is my contention that the capitalist model has been hijacked by a rather abstract and inhuman force originating from a collective effervescence which has landed us in a political conundrum which we may never escape. But why should we worry about escaping, when we can merely tweak the system, after all we should be masters of the system by now. In fact, whether it’s the hippie movements of the 60s or the occupy movements of the 21st century, it’s clear that many a layman would cherish such a tweak. Taking it further, the Scandinavian countries, such as Sweden, have pursued a capitalist model which takes a little pinch from socialism. Although taxes are high, the Swedish enjoy free healthcare, higher education and a whole host of other benefits (like paternity leave, as well as maternity). It’s economy may not be as competitive as the US’s, but life, so I hear, is relaxed and well provided for. Furthermore, the attention to the environment instead of the corporate agenda has made Sweden, and many other Scandinavian countries, a small haven for those who wish to live a balanced and more natural life. It might not have the largest economy, but it just might have one of the best ones. So why strive for bigger, when we can strive for better?