A persuasive re-examination of American prosperity and the generosity that has built our nation
For over a century, the United States has stood as a beacon of prosperity and democracy, proof that big business and big dreams could flourish side by side. Yet few Americans realize the crucial role that generosity plays in keeping that fragile balance. And now, with gated communities, oppressive personal debts, shrinking government, and tax and welfare reform crusades, that essential moral glue is at risk of melting away.
A leading voice for community development, former Connecticut College president and scholar Claire Gaudiani explores all these issues as she examines American prosperity from the Constitution to the New Economy bust. She traces the push and pull of the robber barons and the progressive movement, the New Deal and the postwar boom, and the Me Decade and the technology revolution, finding that altruism powerfully invests in people, property, and ingenuity. Rather than pitting the capitalists against the populists, Gaudiani brings both sides to the table to reseal this fundamental social contract and provide a blueprint for a just future.
The Greater Good is a passionate, pragmatic, and, finally, optimistic manifesto for revitalizing the promise of the American economy.
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A senior research scholar at Yale Law School, Claire Gaudiani served as president of Connecticut College from 1988 until 2001 and continues to serve as volunteer president of the New London Development Corporation. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
As president of Connecticut College in the 1990s, Gaudiani saw the school's endowment quintuple, no doubt bolstering her enthusiasm for philanthropy and inspiring this foray into writing about public policy. Declaring "no people on earth are as generous with their money as Americans are," Gaudiani posits "citizen generosity" as not just an alternative to government spending or corporate investment, but an integral fulfillment of the nation's "democratic imperative" of upward mobility. She mostly chooses her historical examples well, as in sections on Chicago's vibrant (and lucrative) museum culture and the origins of the March of Dimes, but does stumble occasionally: as evidence of our generosity, an early chapter observes that 89% of Americans made charitable donations in 2001-but fails to mention that September 11 might have made the year's giving patterns atypical. Her optimism also leads to a debatable argument that the happiness the founding fathers wanted us to pursue lay in contributing to others' success and that revived attention to various religious championings of generosity could inspire a philanthropic revolution. Gaudiani makes much of the idea that we need charity because we can't rely on government to fix our problems, especially since we hate paying taxes, and conservatives and libertarians will undoubtedly cite this book to support increased tax cuts "freeing up" money for donations. Some will agree, some will not, but what can anyone really say against a book that suggests we all give more to charity?
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Times Books, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0805071962
Book Description Times Books, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110805071962