The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

Eric Liu, Nick Hanauer

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 1570618232

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Understand income inequality, middle-out economics and other realities of modern America as authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that fundamental American assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating for the 21st century.

For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today--generate these simple but revolutionary ideas:

True self interest is mutual interest. (Society, it turns out, is an ecosystem that is healthiest when we take care of the whole.)

Society becomes how we behave. (The model of citizenship depends on contagious behavior, hence positive behavior begets positive behavior.)

We’re all better off when we’re all better off. (The economy is not an efficient machine. It’s an effective garden that need tending. Adjust the definition of wealth to society creating solutions for all.)

Government should be about the big what and the little how. (Government should establish the ideas and the goals, and then let the people find the solutions of how to make it happen.)

Freedom is responsibility. (True freedom is not about living some variant of libertarianism but rather an active cooperation a part of a big whole society; freedom costs a little freedom.)

The Gardens of Democracy is an optimistic, provocative, and timely summons to improve our role as citizens in a democratic society.

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The first is the commonly expected one, in which the rest of your drive is dedicated to exacting revenge against the offending driver or to paying his ruthlessness forward and cutting off another driver. The alternative scenario is one in which you catch yourself and choose not to compound one person’s discourtesy with your own. Here, you recognize that if you make the small decision to let drivers into traffic, even if it feels like an affront to your dignity, then other people will do the

show that markets, like gardens, get overrun by weeds or exhaust their nutrients (education, infrastructure, etc.) if left alone, and then die—and that the only way for markets to deliver broad-based wealth is for government to tend them: enforcing rules that curb anti-social behavior, promote pro-social behavior, and thus keep markets functioning. Machine view: Income inequality reflects unequal effort and ability Garden view: Inequality is what markets naturally create and compound, and

Government should be living, organic, evolving—not inert, inanimate, and unchanging. Reclaiming Democracy We note, however, that before this kind of repurposing can happen, the rules of democratic practice and governance must first change. There is one underlying issue that all Americans, whatever their politics, most confront : the creeping corruption of a campaign finance system that treats money as speech, pushes politicians to spend time courting the moneyed, enables lobbyists to

engaging style, Liu and Hanauer capture the revolution underway in our understanding of how economies and social systems work. They offer a provocative, inspiring vision of citizenship, democracy, and the role of government. This slender book with big ambitions deserves to be read, debated, and read again.” ERIC BEINHOCKER, author of The Origin of Wealth “Society is a garden. Liu and Hanauer’s simple metaphor makes the complexities and limits of social policy emerge before your eyes.

gardeners would never simply “let nature take its course.” They take responsibility for their gardens. Great gardeners assume change in weather and circumstance. They adapt. Great gardens are sustainable only with continuous investment and renewal. Great gardeners turn the soil and rotate the plantings. Human beings, it is said, originated in a garden. Perhaps this is why all of us understand so intuitively what it takes to be great gardeners. I. Seeds Gardenbrain vs.

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