What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution


I have a book to highly recommend, What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution, by Gar Alperovitz, Chelsea Green Publishing.

Here is the beginning of the description of the book at the above link to Amazon’s page for the book.

Never before have so many Americans been more frustrated with our economic system, more fearful that it is failing, or more open to fresh ideas about a new one. The seeds of a new movement demanding change are forming.

But just what is this thing called a new economy, and how might it take shape in America? In What Then Must We Do? Gar Alperovitz speaks directly to the reader about where we find ourselves in history, why the time is right for a new-economy movement to coalesce, what it means to build a new system to replace the crumbling one, and how we might begin. He also suggests what the next system might look like—and where we can see its outlines, like an image slowly emerging in the developing trays of a photographer’s darkroom, already taking shape.

There is a section of the book that suddenly made a light bulb light up in my head.  This is something we could do here in Sturbridge.  This is something that could turn out to be the raison d’être of the little group of progressives that we have here in Sturbidge.

I have copied the following excerpt from my Kindle edition of the book, but you will have to read for your self the parts of the book that surround this excerpt.

As noted, traditional progressive strategy has always tried to focus taxation at the very top to the extent feasible—as a matter both of equity and of good politics (keeping the middle class out of the line of fire and out of the political embrace of the opposition). Let’s keep this in the package. Nothing wrong with it except that it is obviously inadequate—as the ongoing budget, program, salary, and benefit cutting so painfully reminds us.

The longer-term strategic way out of the box, logically, is clearly an approach that rebuilds the local economy (and the local tax base) in ways that are efficient, effective, stable, redistributive, and ongoing. It also should involve capturing greater revenues and profits for municipal use. Which means a different form of development—and a specific plan for how to do it over time so as to secure funds for public-sector employees, teachers, and retirees, and also to secure services for those who need them.

There is a potentially interesting alliance here that can even include local small businesses interested in getting the economy going, and some taxpayers interested in finding new resources to reduce the pressure they face. Not to mention some interesting groups that might act together—including public-sector and teachers’ unions, along with activists who have fought (and rightly continue to fight) the good fight in many areas along traditional lines.

People who see some possibilities in the ideas in the book could get together and strategize on how to raise more interest in the ideas.  We could influence local government to adopt some of these ideas.  I think the seeds are already growing locally.  Perhaps the library could have a book club discussion of these ideas.  Maybe the Senior Center members might take an interest.

There is a wealth of small and medium sized business talent in Sturbridge that is politically active and interested in progressive ideas. I would be willing to bet that I could name a few people around here who probably already know a lot of the ideas put forth in this book.

Certainly our schools, our town, and other local institutions spend a lot of money.  What if we tried to focus some of that spending on improving the local business climate?

Think of the possibilities.  Where do we get started?

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