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Fire crews in Southern California continue to battle blazes that have destroyed hundreds of homes, forced thousands of residents to flee and blanketed much of the region with choking smoke.

One lesson to take away from this story–is a natural tragedy good for the economy? Absolutely not, but it sure can look like it. Like war, like a typhoon or hurricane, a big fire means spending, incomes, and employment all increase as communities rebuild.

Are people better off? Of course not.  People don’t finish with more. If anything, we have only used more resources to maintain the status quo. That is economic waste, but the stats all look good.

When will we find a new way to measure economic growth?

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