After a full school year of work, a team of students at the University of Virginia, sponsored by the Promise America Alliance (PAA), and working with Arthur Rashap, President of PAA has won first place prize in its category for the best paper (as well as creating a prototype website). The paper is published in full below.


“PAR” – The Promise America Report

It is proposed to create a Promise America Report (“PAR”) in order to promote the promises made by the Founders of the new Constitution that was created in 1787. The Report will use the tenets of the Preamble as a guide to measure how well those charged with the responsibility of governing are fulfilling their oaths to further these responsibilities and the premise of their oaths of office. It will also figure in the various ways the informed members of the greater community – “We the People” – can use their inherent and combined power to increase their well-being.

PAR will utilize the increasing amount of available data to compile an annual set of PROMISE MARKERS which together comprise what can be used as America’s measurement of the performance of those elected and appointed as our ‘leaders.’ What is missing in the governmental reports being relied upon (e.g. GNP) is a wider look at how the well-being of each member of the community is being accomplished, how their quality of life is measured, and how their happiness is being achived.

We believe the nation would be well served by a careful annual review of how well these standards are observed in the practices of those selected to govern the nation. There are currently many reports being put out by the Federal government as well as States, cities, counties and other governmental bodies. Usa.facts ( an organization put together by Steve Ballmer, a former CEO of Microsoft. This organization has accomplished an impressive gathering of data under the basic standards of the Preamble to the Constitution. As their website explains:

“We soon discovered that dealing with something as big and complex as government – with its more than 90,000 jurisdictions and 23 million employees – required an organizing framework. What better place to look than the Constitution, and, more specifically, the preamble to the Constitution? It lays out four missions:Establish justice; ensure domestic tranquilityprovide for the common defense; promote the general welfare; and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. While we don’t make judgments about policy, we all agree on the broad purposes of government as laid out in the preamble to the Constitution.”

Summaries of the reports done by this organization will serve as a most viable base for the PAR that is envisioned. It will provide a wider and more comprehensive look at who we are; how we are doing in responsible business as well as in many other aspects of life and well-being. Americans will become better informed by such analysis, understand the total picture, and take responsibility for choosing and supporting their leaders to do the job they pledge to do, we believe that American government would become more effective, more economic, and more efficient, and therefore stronger in recreating the nation that became the standard for freedom, productivity and leadership across the world.

There is a need to create an up-to-date comprehensive measurement tool that not only builds upon the current government reports but also incorporates elements of the many other reports and measures that have been created. The challenge is how to bring these together to achieve the promises made and desired by our Founders that did bring a divided nation together.

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There have been and are currently a number of reports and indicators that are relevant to the thrust that the Promise America Alliance is promoting.

We have mentioned and applaud the usa.facts operation and the data it has, is and will be collecting and the recent ways they have been suggesting the data can be helpful and used.

Here is an incomplete listing of what has been done with some of these being maintained. There are also some very good books that have been recently published that provide both an analysis and suggestions for measures and their uses.

1. GDP: Gross domestic product(GDP)is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. Gross domestic product can be calculated using the following formula: GDP = C + G + I + NX where C is equal to all private consumption, or consumer spending, in a nation’s economy, G is the sum of government spending, I is the sum of all the country’s investment, including businesses capital expenditures and NX is the nation’s total net exports, calculated as total exports minus total imports (NX = Exports – Imports). This GDP calculation gives the monetary value of all the goods and services purchased within national borders by persons, businesses, governments and foreigners. As a raw data analysis, GDP gives a good broad overview of the market economic activity that takes place within the U.S. However, because it does not differentiate between types of spending, and because it does not recognize non-market forms of production and values without market prices, GDP does not provide a complete picture of economic and societal progress.

2. GNH: (Gross National Happiness)Happiness Alliance ( GNH is a much richer objective than GDP or economic growth. In GNH, material well-being is important but it is also important to enjoy sufficient well-being in things like community, culture, governance, knowledge and wisdom, health, spirituality and psychological welfare, a balanced use of time, and harmony with the environment. From data gathered, analysts create a GNH profile for each person, showing their well-being across in the 9 domains mentioned above. The national GNH Index draws on every person’s portrait to give the national measure.

3.Measure of America (Social Science Research Council):Measure of America partners with community foundations, civic organizations, and corporate social responsibility departments to produce innovative in-depth analyses of communities. Reports feature Measure of America’s original life expectancy calculations and the American Human Development Index, utilizing the latest official government data available. Reports zoom in to focus on relevant thematic topics and geographical areas ranging from metro areas to congressional districts, counties to states, depending on the constituents and data needs of partner organizations.

4.The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD)is the single largest and most detailed scientific effort ever conducted to quantify levels and trends in health.

5. Environmental full-cost accounting (EFCA)is a method of cost accounting that traces direct costs and allocates indirect costs by collecting and presenting information about the possible environmental, social and economic costs and benefits or advantages – in short, about the “triple bottom line” – for each proposed alternative.

6. Gross National Wellness (GNW)is a socioeconomic development and measurement framework. The Gross National Wellness Index (GNW Index) is also known as the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH Index). The GNW / GNH Index consists of 7 dimensions: economic, environmental, physical, mental, work, social, and political. Most wellness areas include both subjective results (via survey) and objective data.

7. Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare: (ISEW) is an economic indicator intended to replace the Gross Domestic Product, which is the main macroeconomic indicator of System of National Accounts (SNA). Rather than simply adding together all expenditures like the gross domestic productconsumer expenditure is balanced by such factors as income distribution and cost associated with pollution and other unsustainable costs. It is similar to the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).

8. The National Conference on Citizenship:NCoC’s Civic Health Initiatives elevates the discussion of our nation’s civic health. National, state, and city partners are involved to measure how much people trust their neighbors, are active in their communities, and interact with their government. By measuring a wide variety of civic indicators, we educate Americans about our civic life and motivate people to strengthen it.

9. The Economics & Statistics Administration:(ESA) plays three key roles within the Department of Commerce (DOC). ESA provides timely economic analysis, disseminates national economic indicators, and oversees the U.S. Census Bureau (Census) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis(BEA).

10. US Census Bureau: There are many reports the Census Bureau does in addition to all the population reports and projections. For instance: Longitudinal Business Database(LBD).

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Here is an analysis of one of the measures that gives an idea of what can be advanced.

Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)

There are several indicators that consider forms of progress ignored in GDP, such as wellness, natural capital accounting, and even gross national happiness. A more comprehensive single metric, the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), provides a complete picture of economic and social progress.

The state of Maryland has been leading the way in adopting a GPI with the goal of integrating it into policymaking decisions. Maryland uses 26 indicators to calculate the state GPI. The indicators are within three categories: economic, environmental and social. The economic category indicators are similar to the state’s gross product calculations. The environmental indicators measure factors such as the costs of pollution, the cost of climate change, and the cost of net changes in natural resources. The social indicators include the value of education and volunteering and the costs of crime and lost leisure time. Maryland’s GPI also captures the impact of income inequality on the state’s economy.

Genuine progress indicator, or GPI, is a metric that has been suggested to replace, or supplement, gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of economic growth. GPI is designed to take fuller account of the well-being of a nation, only a part of which pertains to the health of the nation’s economy, by incorporating environmental and social factors which are not measured by GDP. For instance, some models of GPI decrease in value when the poverty rate increases. The GPI is used in ecological economics, ‘green’ economics, sustainability and more inclusive types of economics by factoring in environmental and carbon footprints that businesses produce or eliminate.

Among the indicators factored into GPI are resource depletion, pollution, and long-term environmental damage. GDP gains double the amount when pollution is created, since it increases once upon creation (as a side-effect of some valuable process) and again when the pollution is cleaned up, whereas GPI counts the initial pollution as a loss rather than a gain, generally equal to the amount it will cost to clean up later plus the cost of any negative impact the pollution will have in the mean time. While quantifying costs and benefits of these environmental and social ‘externalities’ (they are only ‘externalities’ from the perspective that only increases in financial and man-made capital is important) is a difficult task, Earthster-type databases could bring more precision and currency to GPI’s metrics. Another movement in economics that might embrace such data is the attempt to ‘internalize externalities’ – that is, to make companies bear the costs of the pollution they create (rather than having the government or society at large bear that cost) by taxing their goods proportionally to their negative ecological and social impacts.

GPI is an attempt to measure whether the environmental impact and social costs of economic production and consumption in a country are negative or positive factors in overall health and well-being. By accounting for the costs borne by the society as a whole to repair or control pollution and poverty, GPI balances GDP spending against external costs. GPI advocates claim that it can more reliably measure economic progress, as it distinguishes between the overall shift in the ‘value basis of a product, adding its ecological impacts into the equation. Comparatively speaking, the relationship between GDP and GPI is analogous to the relationship between the gross profit of a company and the net profit; the Net Profit is the Gross Profit minus the costs incurred; the GPI is the GDP (value of all goods and services produced) minus the environmental and social costs. Accordingly, the GPI will be zero if the financial costs of poverty and pollution equal the financial gains in production of goods and services, all other factors being constant.