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To Make Good or Make Bank? A Review of Billy Parish and Dev Aujla's New Book

Today, many young people wanting to do good face a confounding puzzle. 

While we belong to “the most progressive generation in American history” and exhibit record levels of commitment to positive social change, our generation is currently experiencing the highest unemployment rate in the country. Even among those who do have jobs, many of us are making less than did those who were our age thirty years ago (25-34 year old men today make 10% less today than did those of that age group in 1980).

Furthermore, to pursue our dreams, we have had to take on obscene levels of debt - especially of the educational and predatory credit card varieties. And even if we do get that job, it’s no secret that the work that advances social good occurs in sectors - non-profit, public, or social-enterprise - less stable and lower-paying than many pursuits in the private sector. 

Given all of this, many of us wonder: how can we pursue and achieve our deeply held pro-social goals while still attaining some semblance of personal economic security? 

Making this puzzle seem solvable is what motivated Billy Parish and Dev Aujla to co-author their incredibly timely, illuminating, and useful book, Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money, and Community in a Changing World (February 28th 2012, Rodale). Certainly, the title seems counterintuitive. How many people create real, positive change in the world from the starting point of wanting to make money? And in an economy like this? If you read the title and fear that buying it will leave you with little but well-worn platitudes and that the only ones “making good” will be its authors, I understand your skepticism. But how thankfully wrong you would be.