The American Dream vs. The Gospel of Wealth The Fight for a Productive Middle-Class Economy Norton Garfinkle

The Future of American Democracy Series
Publication date:
11 Dec 2007
Yale University Press
240 pages: 210 x 140mm
3 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

“The most important book I've read in years.”—Bill Moyers

Norton Garfinkle paints a disquieting picture of America today: a nation increasingly divided between economic winners and losers, a nation in which the middle-class American Dream seems more and more elusive. Recent government policies reflect a commitment to a new supply-side winner-take-all Gospel of Wealth. Garfinkle warns that this supply-side economic vision favors the privileged few over the majority of American citizens striving to better their economic condition. Garfinkle employs historical insight and data-based economic analysis to demonstrate compellingly the sharp departure of the supply-side Gospel of Wealth from an American ideal that dates back to Abraham Lincoln—the vision of America as a society in which ordinary, hard-working individuals can get ahead and attain a middle-class living, and in which government plays an active role in expanding opportunities and ensuring against economic exploitation. Supply-side economic policies increase economic disparities and, Garfinkle insists, they fail on technical, factual, moral, and political grounds. He outlines a fresh economic vision, consonant with the great American tradition of ensuring strong economic growth, while preserving the middle-class American Dream.

Norton Garfinkle is chairman, The Future of American Democracy Foundation. He has taught economics at Amherst College and is former chairman of the George Washington University Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies. He is also co-author of Uniting America: Restoring the Vital Center to American Democracy, published by Yale University Press.



?We can choose to chart a wiser economic path by starting with the principles that have inspired Americans from the beginning:  Sticking with fiscal discipline, rewarding hard work, investing in our people, and growing a strong middle class.  In The American Dream vs. The Gospel of Wealth, Norton Garfinkle addresses these important economic issues, issues that should be addressed at all levels of government and our society if we expect to maintain the American Dream for future generations."?Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton


"This fascinating guided tour of America's past reminds us of the moral dimension of economic policy?which used to loom large, but which lately has been submerged. Garfinkle's book may help bring it back."?Alan Blinder, Princeton University, former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board

"This book is clearly written, without jargon, and Garfinkle does a very good job of linking macroeconomic arguments with their political and moral implications."?Ian Shapiro, author of The Moral Foundations of Politics 


"A dramatic description of contemporary economic issues and their origin in the continuing struggle between the true American Dream inspired by Lincoln, Wilson and the two Roosevelts...and the Gospel of Wealth, identified in the 19th century with Social Darwinism and more recently with Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Reagan and George W. Bush in particular.  In its intelligence, historical understanding and felicity of style, Garfinkle's eminently readable volume is in the best tradition of American historical literature."?Richard D. Heffner, Rutgers University

"The American Dream vs. the Gospel of Wealth: The Fight for a Productive Middle-Class Economy is the most important book I've read in years. Thoughtful, clear, readable, and insightful, it is a remarkable account of how reactionary politics and regressive supply-side economics have produced an America that is no longer working for all Americans. But this is no hand-wringing polemic. Garfinkle has identified and diagnosed the virus that has been loosed on the American Dream, but he also summons us to fight back?with the ideas and values that may yet redeem in our time the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln's vision of government 'of, by, and for the people.'"?Bill Moyers


"The American Dream vs. the Gospel of Wealth: The Fight for a Productive Middle-Class Economy is the most important book I've read in years. It is the clearest, most readable, most insightful, and most powerful account of how the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln's vision of government 'of, by, and for the people' are being turned upside down. Garfinkle has sounded the one trumpet that just might wake us up?if there is still time."?Bill Moyers

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