The National Income and Product Accounts of the Bureau of Economic Analysis as Tweezers

… description supplies, as it were, the tweezers by which we hold things while explanations are being discovered or verified, applied or revised.

A distinction has been drawn between description and explanation. Description deals with things as related to us. Explanation deals with the same things as related among themselves. The two are not totally independent, for they deal with the same things and, as we have seen, description supplies, as it were, the tweezers by which we hold things while explanations are being discovered or verified, applied or revised. But despite their intimate connection, it remains that description and explanation envisage things in fundamentally different manners. The relations of things among themselves are, in general, a different field from the relations of things to us. … Not only are description and explanation distinct, but there are two main varieties of description. There are the ordinary descriptions that can be cast in ordinary language. There are also the scientific descriptions for which ordinary language quickly proves inadequate and so is forced to yield its place to a special, technical terminology. (But) both ordinary and scientific description are concerned with things as related to us, but both are not concerned with the same relations to us. The scientist selects the relations of things to us that lead more directly to knowledge of the relations of things among themselves. Ordinary description is free from this ulterior preoccupation. [CWL 3, 291-92/316-17]

The Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce presents three arrangements of the Gross Domestic Product. We propose a fourth.

The BEA’s three arrangements in its National Income and Products Accounts tables(BEA’s Data Tables are: https://www.bea.gov/scb/pdf/2017/05%20May/0517_selected_nipa_tables.pdf

  1. As the sum of goods and services sold to final users. (Tables 1.1.5, and 1.5.5 Gross Domestic Product, Current $)
  2. As the sum of income payments and other costs incurred in the production of goods and services. (Table 1.10, Gross Domestic Income by Type of Income; Table 1.12 National Income by Type of Income; Table 1.13, National Income by Sector …; current $)
  3. As the sum of “value added” by all industries in the economy (Table 1.3.5, Gross Value Added by Sector; GDP by Industry>Industry Data>Value Added by Industry; Current $)

The three arrangements fall short of explanatory functional groupings

We propose a fourth arrangement called Gross Domestic Functional Flows, An Explanation of the Current, Purely Dynamic Economic Process.