Editor's note: The following is an adaptation from an forthcoming book by Oren Cass, The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America.
A consumption-oriented approach to economic policy has led America astray. Here’s how we can recover.
Since the middle of the past century, our political economy has relied upon the insidious metaphor of the “economic pie,” which measures success by the amount of gross domestic product (GDP) available to every American for consumption. When serving a pie, each portion’s size depends on both the size of the dish and the share allocated to each slice. Likewise, the thinking goes, each person’s consumption depends on the size of the overall economy and the share he receives. Fighting over shares is a zero-sum game, but if we concentrate on baking an ever-larger pie, then everyone’s slice can grow. If some slices are too small, pie can be redistributed among the plates. And who doesn’t like pie?