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Gus Speth's Posts


Local economies, global responsibility: A vision for the next great American century

The following is excerpted from the new book America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy.

The future economy will enjoy a strong rebirth of re-skilling, crafts, and self-provisioning, opening space for traditional jobs like blacksmithing.
The future economy will enjoy a strong rebirth of re-skilling, crafts, and self-provisioning, opening space for traditional jobs like blacksmithing.

If we manage well, we can achieve a higher quality of life both individually and socially. Life in America the Possible will tend strongly in these directions:

Relocalization: Economic and social life will be rooted in the community and the region. More production will be local and regional, with shorter, less-complex supply chains, especially but not only in food supply. Enterprises will be more committed to the long-term well-being of employees and the viability of their communities and will be supported by local, complementary currencies and local financial institutions. People will live closer to work, walk more, and travel less. Energy production will be distributed and decentralized, and predominantly renewable. Socially, community bonds will be strong; connections to neighbors will be genuine and unpretentious; civic associations and community service groups plentiful; support for teachers and caregivers high. Personal security, tolerance of difference, and empathy will be high. Local governance will stress participatory, direct, and deliberative democracy. Citizens will be seized with the responsibility to manage and extend the commons -- the valuable assets that belong to everyone -- through community land trusts and otherwise.

New business models: Locally owned businesses, including worker-, customer-, and community-owned firms, will be prominent. So, too, will hybrid business models such as profit/nonprofit and public/private hybrids. Cooperation will moderate competition. Investments will promote import-substitution. Business incubators will help entrepreneurs with arranging finance, technical assistance, and other support. Enterprises of all types will stress environmental and social responsibility.


What is the American Dream?: Dueling dualities in the American tradition

Throughout our history, there have been alternative, competing visions of the "good life" in America. The story of how these competing visions played out in our history is prologue to an important question: What is the American Dream and what is its future? The issue came up in the early Republic, offspring of the ambiguity in Jefferson's declaration that we have an unalienable right to "the pursuit of happiness." Darrin McMahon in his admirable book, Happiness: A History, will be our guide here. McMahon locates the origins of the "right to happiness" in the Enlightenment. "Does not everyone have a …

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A new American environmentalism and the new economy

Editor's note: The following is the 10th Annual John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture, delivered at the National Council for Science and the Environment in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2010. ------ I'm both pleased and honored to have been asked by NCSE to give this 10th Annual John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture. I knew John personally and had the opportunity to work with him during his long and distinguished service on the Senate Environment Committee. He was a wonderful person and a great Senator. I wish we had a dozen John Chafees in the Senate today. And I want also …