cover image Economic Dignity

Economic Dignity

Gene Sperling. Penguin Press, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-1-9848-7987-5

Sperling (The Pro-Growth Progressive), former director of the National Economic Council under presidents Clinton and Obama, makes a well-reasoned and informative case for market reforms that would allow people to “car[e] for family without economic deprivation or desperation”; “pursue potential and a sense of purpose”; and “meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” After identifying challenges to economic dignity in America, including the links between racism and poverty and flaws in the criminal justice system, Sperling outlines possible solutions, such as creating green jobs, introducing a universal basic income for “dislocated workers [who] are trying to rise,” and increasing support for full-time caregivers. He also discusses the need to address shortcomings in contract workers’ benefits and rights, and to amend the current Social Security system. Sperling critiques conservatives for paying “lip service” to the working class while voting against measures that would improve their lives, such as minimum wage increases and child-care subsidies; advocates for increased government spending; and defends the merits of a well-regulated free market. Though Sperling tends to belabor his points, he successfully bridges the gap between writing for a lay audience and persuading policy wonks. This balanced and authoritative take shows how to work within the system to produce meaningful change. (May)