There is a genre of writing in economics --- it isn't really journalism, and it isn't really scientific journal writing, and yet it also isn't really "big think" social philosophy and policy either. It is instead, informed discussion about the general discipline of economics --- its purpose, they way it is done, and perhaps suggestions on how to improve its practice. I love reading this stuff and I think the current best practitioner of this genre is Diane Coyle. I simply love reading her work, and it turns out that I love listening to her as well. Hopefully, one day I will get to meet her to discuss her work.
She blogs at The Enlightened Economist, and she has a new book out, GDP: A Brief But Affectionate History. She did an episode of EconTalk with Russ Roberts on the book that I highly recommend. She has just some brilliant points in the book and the podcast about the inadequacies of GDP with respect to technological innovation, economic progress, and governmental services.
In listening to her discussion of the problems with accounting for the value of governmental spending in GDP I was reminded both of Robert Higgs's criticisms and the importance of taking the G out of GDP, and a rejection letter from the QJE that I stumbled upon in the Buchanan files from Arthur Smithies to Buchanan concerning a paper he had submitted that raised these objections to GDP accounting. Smithies in informing Buchanan of the rejection nevertheless couldn't resist throwing some salt into the wound about the "quaint" old fashioned position that Buchanan had about "market prices" and valuation. Smithies did regret rejecting the paper only because the old-style "market fundamentalism" surely should still have some representation in the journals. But not in this instance.
Kuznets understood the problems, Diane Coyle explains in beautiful prose what the problem still is (and more so), and yet the practice continues not only in the politicization of economics that takes place in the policy space, but in our academic research and teaching. It is really time to take the sort of arguments that Diane Coyle lays out seriously. If we do so, perhaps the economics profession might catch up to that "quaint" and "old fashioned" ideas that James Buchanan was working in public finance in the 1950s and early 1960s.