Our Goal: Redefine “Economic Growth”
This book is entitled A Larger Pie to emphasize a view of the world in which we all lead our lives trying to get (and often compete for) pieces of a pie that keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Whether it involves economic commodities such as money, or emotional commodities like a sense of community, the book argues that one person becoming richer or more connected need not come at the expense of anyone else; all of us can have more money and more community. As you will soon see, furthermore, the book more accurately would have a title like: How the Pie Keeps Growing Larger Especially After We Change Some of Its Basic Ingredients. This big mouthful (no pun intended) would be more accurate because our primary task here is to rethink–and redefine–economic growth.
This sounds like it might be daunting and boring. But it is necessary, unavoidable and overdue. To mix metaphors, “economic growth” has become our (in the U.S.) civic religion, and it is an emperor who is naked (for those who did not encounter the fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” during childhood, it is about the dangers of group-think.) Think of something worrying you today–e.g. climate change or the number of college graduates who can’t find a job–and a new (correct) definition of “economic growth” is essential to addressing that worry.
At times, to rethink growth may also be difficult; what’s worthwhile in life rarely comes easily. But (here comes the good part), it will be fun. It will also empower us; strengthen our democracy; reaffirm our ability to shape the type of lives (and country) we want; and rescue the American Dream. This dream (which has no precise definition, but roughly means basic “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”) needs rescue because one aspect of the dream–acquiring money and material possessions–has increasingly become (for reasons we will examine) the dream.
So sit back. Settle in. Fasten your seatbelts. The ride may become bumpy. If you get distracted or begin to feel overwhelmed, remember that a happy ending awaits. Yes, refreshments will be served. And, not to sound like a late-night television commercial, but if you complete this journey you will receive one more thing. The greatest achievement any of us can hope for, the ancient Greeks wrote, is to see life as it is and as beautiful at the same time. That, too, will be an inevitable by-product of redefining economic growth.