Across the political spectrum, there is an absence of serious and persuasive ideas for reviving and rebuilding the U.S. economy. Bill Clinton’s advocacy of extensive federal investment in infrastructure, training, and education is a vast improvement over anything else on the horizon, but it represents only a first step. The economy needs reforms on the scale of the New Deal, but Roosevelt and his Brain Trust were able to draw on a rich vein of bold reform ideas that had previously been advanced by Progressive and Socialist reformers and intellectuals. Today’s left has failed to produce a comparable body of ideas.
This essay is intended as part of a broader effort to make up this deficit. It seeks to sketch out a series of structural reforms that could contribute to both a stronger economy and increased democracy and equality. But first it is necessary to reconsider some of the intellectual assumptions that shape our thinking about the economy and our vision of the good society....
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