What Cylvia wants: Oregon ‘GPI’ – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

What Cylvia wants: Oregon ‘GPI’

Written February 8th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
Cylvia Hayes on the governor's website before the "first lady" part of the site was scrubbed.

Cylvia Hayes on the governor’s website before the “first lady” part of the site was scrubbed.

Cylvia Hayes’ was throwing her weight around as “first lady,” as reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive, because she wanted Oregon to adopt a new way to measure changes in the economy. Most of us had never heard of the “Genuine Progress Indicator.” But thanks to Google you can look it up. It sounds like a ploy by people in government and academia to get paid for gathering data, making plans, holding meetings and writing reports.

To promote this scheme, Governor Kitzhaber urged the director of the Department of Administrative Services to find a job for one Sean McGuire, a former Maryland state official in charge of GPI there. Last spring Oregon did hire him for a year at about $65,000. This was after Hayes was paid $25,000 by Demos, a New York advocacy group whose motto is “An equal say and equal chance for all,” to promote GPI in Oregon.

The Demos website has an article titled “Implementing GPI in Vermont, Maryland and Oregon.” It explains that GPI “includes 26 indicators to give a broader picture of the sustainability of growth.” The indicators include items such as “income inequality,” “services of consumer durables” (whatever that means), “cost of ozone depletion,” “cost of net wetlands change,” “value of volunteer work,” “value of housework,” “cost of family changes,” and “cost of commuting.” None of those are easy to calculate, and a composite GPI containing these and all the indicators, all 26 of them, does not really tell you anything useful.

Oregon tried something similar in 1989 under Governor Goldschmidt, when the state formed the Oregon Progress Board and started measuring more than 100 different things. It was an effort at making government more purposeful and scientific, the dream of all central planners. After 20 years of this, the 2009 legislature stopped funding the program, and it petered out. The result? Nothing but 20 years of salaries paid to people who gathered data and wrote reports, and that was it. (The one-time chief of the program, a likable guy named Jeff Tryens, departed for Australia and later landed a job for the city of New York.)

As for Kitzhaber, his first lady and GPI, we’ll see how it turns out. Most Democrats love this kind of central planning exercise, and their big majorities in Salem may throw some money at this one, if only to keep Kitzhaber’s lady happy and keep consultants employed. (hh)

Cylvia Hayes

Cylvia Hayes

Here’s what Oregon’s chief advocate of the Genuine Progress Indicator says. As “Oregon’s first lady,” Cylvia Hayes was quoted on the Demos website: “You can’t effectively govern a state in a two-year biennial budget cycle… As a person in the sustainable development field you have two problems. One is, we’re measuring the wrong thing, and two, you’re measuring things on such a short time horizon that you can’t actually see the full costs and benefits of policy decisions. So we’re integrating the GPI with a ten-year budget plan outcomes metric and then begin to make explicit what our policy and state budget decisions will mean to all three capital accounts (our physical capital, human capital and environmental capital)…. The intent in Oregon is to use the GPI to craft the state budget. Oregon has a long history of working up alternative metrics we had the Oregon Progress Board… but one of the reasons it didn’t move the dial is because it wasn’t attached to state policy decisions and state budget decisions… We worked with a group of graduate students and an ecological economist at Portland State University. We have a rudimentary GPI, now we are hiring a person to oversee the implementation of GPI. The first part of that will be updating the GPI, making it more rigorous.”

I don’t know about you, but it sounds like so much mush to me. (hh)

7 responses to “What Cylvia wants: Oregon ‘GPI’”

  1. David Ballard says:

    “I don’t know about you, but it sounds like so much mush to me. (hh)”

    I agree entirely. “Mush” bordering on abuse and waste of public funds.

    Ms. Hayes holds no elected office so why she should influence public policy beyond that of any Oregon citizen is questionable.

    As to the question of Mr. Kitzhaber continuing in his leadership role as Governor of this state my tendency is to agree with the recent Oregonian editorial which said Kitzhaber has broken faith with Oregonians.

    “His career in Oregon politics is one of great accomplishment, but his past success does not excuse the mess he has made of the office with which Oregonians entrusted him. He is now less a governor than a source of unending distraction,”

    The “great accomplishment” reference in that quote may be giving the Governor the benefit of the doubt.

  2. Ted Salmons says:

    Yes another example of liberals doing whatever they can to get other people’s money into their pockets. I was looking in the dictionary for a word that combined gold digger and scam artist. What I found instead was a photo of Ms. Hayes. Sorry I can’t use the term “lady” to describe a woman with her past history and present actions. If our illustrious governor wants to maintain the slightest credibility, he should kick her to the curb and do it quickly.

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    Do we have to pay for her food?

  4. Warren Beeson says:

    Clearly Kitzhaber and his “First Main Squeeze” need to call on Brian Williams for assistance in getting their story out. Maybe instead of being squishy/sleazy it could morph into something both heroic and heartwarming as reported on NBC news.

  5. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    “Income Inequality” is part of GPI?

    So the metric would reward losing well paying jobs so that the state’s average wealth would more “equal”?

    Redefining good to bad goes beyond mush. It’s insane, and so typical of contemporary government.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      I think it goes without saying that income inequality would be a minus rather than a plus in this index, bizarre as the exercise may be in other respects. (hh)

    • Jim Engel says:

      Great LTTE in this mornings (Mon) paper. You sure know how to hit the nail twice. You’d be a heck of a taskmaster I’d bet for Mayor, but you’d get us on a level keel!..JE


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