Chlöe Swarbrick, then a Green Party Auckland Central candidate, attended an election night celebration on October 17, 2020 in New Zealand.

(Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Watch New Zealand MP's 'Absolutely Brilliant' 80-Second Takedown of GDP

"The squiggly line of GDP can go up but we also know full well that so too can homelessness; so too can the desecration of the environmental fundamentals that are necessary for life as we know it," she said.

A few weeks after Chlöe Swarbrick posted an 80-second video on Instagram, the Green Party member of the New Zealand Parliament was still winning praise on Friday for her brief and powerful takedown of gross domestic product.

"Watch Aotearoa New Zealand MP Chlöe Swarbrick deliver the most formidably cogent summary of the 20th-century economic order—and how it ruined everything," said U.K.-based journalist Dave Vetter, sharing the clip on X, formerly Twitter. "I genuinely don't think I've seen—or read—a more concise and effective summary than this."

"Even today, 'Greens' are portrayed by our media as pie-in-the-sky dreamers, while the besuited worshipers of an ideology wholly divorced from the observable universe are regarded as pragmatic geniuses," he added. "It's what you might call total reality inversion."

"We don't live in a game of Monopoly," Swarbrick said in her mid-December remarks to Parliament about an economic bill. She referenced environmentalist and entrepreneur Paul Hawken's 2009 declaration that "we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product."

Swarbrick also summarized the development of the modern concept of GDP—a measure of the value of goods and services produced in a country during a certain time period—for a U.S. congressional report nearly a century ago.

She then said, "That baseline measure of just those transactions does not give us any meaningful insight into the value of those transactions, whether we actually want them in the first place, whether they actually benefit people and the planet, nor the distribution of those transactions—that is, who benefits from those transactions."

"The squiggly line of GDP can go up but we also know full well that so too can homelessness; so too can the desecration of the environmental fundamentals that are necessary for life as we know it," she continued, arguing that "we can do this economy thing a lot better."

When Swarbrick took office in 2017, at age 23, she was the youngest MP to enter Parliament in 42 years. Her use of the term "OK, Boomer" to call out a heckler while she was speaking about climate legislation in 2019 informed the title of a short film about her career, OK Chlöe.

In addition to the climate emergency, her legislative priorities have included cannabis decriminalization, election access, mental health services, and a wealth tax. Swarbrick said in June that "wealth in Aotearoa is concentrated in the back pockets of a wealthy few. It's time we get on and fix this."

While New Zealand's Greens favor a wealth tax, Labour has been divided. October elections in the country marked the end of the Labour's leadership and, after weeks of negotiations, the right-wing National Party reached an agreement with ACT New Zealand and New Zealand First to form a government. Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and his party do not support a wealth tax.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.