The Once and Future Worker steps into this gaping void. It explains how decades of bad public policy, not irresistible and uncontrollable forces, have pushed America to the brink. The 1960s are known for their social upheaval, but the decade also marked the bipartisan transition to a national economic policy that sacrificed the needs and interests of workers in pursuit of faster growth and rising consumption. That mistake has eroded the foundation of productive work and destabilized the structures of family and community on which long-term prosperity depends.
Looking through the lens of work flips the national debate on its head--or, rather, returns it to its feet. New approaches to reform emerge for the environment and organized labor, trade and immigration, education and the safety net. "Growing the economic pie" transforms from a pleasant platitude to the most insidious phrase in politics. The result is dismay at what we have done to ourselves, but also optimism that a thriving society remains within reach.