Some days ago I wrote a entry on the official cost of living index, What is reality? On that occasion I – as well as millions of Argentines – questioned the (in) accuracy of such an important economic and social indicator.
But what about the rest of indicators we need to know where we are standing today and especially to measure our progress in the future? Do we have the right indexes and with sufficient quality to be useful?
Take road accidents, for example. There is a private NGO called Luchemos por la Vida who provide yearly figures on deaths due to road accidents in Argentina. Their figures for the last years are: 2007: 8104; 2008: 8205; 2009: 7885; 2010: 7659; 2011: 7517; 2012: 7485. Good, we seem to be improving, right? Not so much. On the one hand, official institutions contest these figures saying they are not professional, but do not provide their own statistics, at least for the last years. On the other hand, what is good? How many dead people is good? And shouldn’t we be measuring also the seriously injured, the financial and human resources involved, the family distress involved? What if we are way behind internationally and in reality would have to be halving the figures every year to be serious?
I think we need to measure Buenos Aires with a whole bunch of reliable statistics that should be constantly and readily available to all, and then they should be compared with international statistics, on the one hand, and with future numbers. Once we all know where we stand in traffic accidents, health, educations, violence, quality of life, poverty, housing, etc. we will be able to start from there and improve every year, released from the tug-of-war between the government (or governments in the case of Buenos Aires City, Buenos Aires Province and national government), opposition and the press, with us as mere spectators.
Only when we know where we stand today and where others stand today can we plan on where we want to be tomorrow.