The Making of a Democratic Economy: Building Prosperity for the Many, Not Just the Few
Many people would rather read just about anything than a book with the word “economy” in its title. I understand the hesitation—economics treatises can be deadly—but I urge you to do yourself a favor and give this slim volume a try. I found it to be a delight from beginning to end, a real breath of fresh air.
The authors start with the premise that the core functioning of the economy can be designed to serve the common good. The principles they see as central are: community, inclusion, place, good work, democratic ownership, sustainability, and ethical finance. They hold that a democratic economy is a maturation of both progressive and conservative ways of understanding the world, and that economic rights and economic democracy are natural partners to political rights and political democracy. A step beyond state socialism and corporate capitalism, the deep moral structure at the core of this new economy can provide a compass in difficult times.
They frame their argument briefly and cogently, then spend most of their time leading a far‐ranging and invigorating tour through seven real‐life communities that are reimagining some aspect of their economic life. We get to visit a Lakota community wealth building project on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and learn how an economic development initiative in Portland, Ore., is incubating equality. We are introduced to the Cooperative Home Care Associates of New York City, a worker co‐op that employs over 2,000 people. We get a tour of a pathbreaking project in the Rust Belt city of Cleveland, where anchor institutions like universities and hospitals are sourcing supplies and services locally through new worker‐owned businesses. We learn how a for‐profit business can transition to an employee‐owned benefit corporation, and how the Federal Reserve’s power can be harnessed to finance ecological transition. Finally, we cross the ocean to Preston, England, where a dogged council person, inspired by the Cleveland model, has transformed how his hollowed‐out city manages its assets, in a way that is building local wealth and creating ripples across England and beyond.