America the Possible: Gus Speth's Roadmap To A New Economy

If you could implement your ideal vision of the U.S. in 2050, what would it look like? Demos’ Distinguished Senior Fellow, Gus Speth, answers this question in his new book America the Possible: Roadmap to a New Economy, which will be released in September of this year and has been previewed in two excerpts, America the Possible: A Manifesto, Parts I and II in Orion Magazine.

In the first excerpt, Speth details how America is exceptional for all the wrong reasons, ranging from staggering levels of poverty and income inequality to deep environmental degradation to misplaced priorities that result in a continually increasing military complex, rather than focusing on nurturing our communities and families. These realities are a result of,

“[c]onscious political decisions made over several decades by both Democrats and Republicans who have had priorities other than strengthening the well-being of American society and our environment.”

Beyond political decisions, Speth argues that the political system is in trouble because it is moving from democracy to a system of plutocracy and “corporatocracy” through the ascendancy of market fundamentalism and a strict antiregulation, antigovernment, antitax ideology. This change leaves us fundamentally incapable of solving the problems we face. This new ideology also thrives on a growth-above-all strategy that has prioritized economic growth over the greater well-being, an issue that is at the heart of Demos’ recent Beyond GDP report and infographic series looking at how growth doesn’t equal progress.

In the second excerpt, Speth paints a picture of an America where the reigning ideology is equality and the focus is on inter-generational planning, and not on short-term gains. He sets out a path to achieve a fundamental rethink of our underlying values-- moving from seeing humanity as separate from nature to seeing how humans are inextricably intertwined with the planet, from hyperindividualism to community and social solidarity, from prioritizing materials goods to placing importance on personal and family relationships and other experiences. These gains can be achieved through social movements, a change in narrative and leadership, and adopting innovative, instructive economic models.