Handmaking America

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An ambitious, wide-ranging look at where America has gone wrong and what we need to do – as a people and as individuals – to get things back on the right track.

America has survived an economic near-disaster. While the state of employment and housing will one day improve, we will never return to the delusional prosperity that defined the first decade of the 21st century. Progressives should hold the key to quality of life in our coming post-consumerist society, but today Democrats have become timid, our vision...Continue Reading

...of the good life marginalized by three decades of partisan attacks and the think tank-induced assumption that an unfettered marketplace, low taxes, and international adventurism will somehow give us an America capable of inspiring the world. Handmaking America reaches back to the Arts- and-Crafts roots of progressive thought, confronting the way right-wing ideology and the power of post-industrial capitalism have undermined work, government; our very way of life, while advancing a practical, achievable vision for a good society that can use the capacity of government to recover the essential strength of the American idea.

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Read Excerpts

  • “When we honor wood over plastic, rough-hewn more than factory-smooth, and we value labor in the pasture over work in a cubicle, we are channeling the old-time intellectuals who first questioned the social impact of capitalism and industrialization.”
  • “If progressives can replenish the American Idea by advancing core values, challenging and overturning the false promises of the past thirty years, and crafting policies that can encourage a high quality of life tailored to the challenges of a still-new century, our nation will continue to lead the world.”
  • “Corporations are not people; they are not citizens. We must enact legislation to strip corporations of pseudocitizen constitutional rights, including First Amendment rights.”
  • “One thing is clear: We must stop living inside the constraints of envy and consumerism if we are to achieve a meaningful level of real happiness.”
  • “The pursuit of happiness through debt-enabled consuming is a national pathology. It may be immoral, dysfunctional, and not especially effective, but it's not illegal. A revitalized civics regime in school, perhaps combined with a fresh approach to home economics, could begin to equip citizens with the critical insight necessary to resist the allure of advertising and careless spending.”
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Meet the Author

Bill Ivey is a writer, teacher, and experienced nonprofit executive, and is a principal in Global Cultural Strategies, an online policy consortium. He was founding director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University and is senior consultant to the University's Office of International Relations.

During his long tenure in public service, he served as Senate-confirmed chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in the Clinton-Gore administration, and in that capacity is credited with both increasing the agency's budget and restoring good relations between the NEA and Capitol Hill.

He is a trustee of the Center for American Progress, and was a Team Leader in the Barack Obama presidential transition. He is the author of Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights (California, 2008), and is co-editor of Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America's Cultural Life (Routledge, 2008).

He was twice elected chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and is a four-time Grammy Award nominee. As past president of the American Folklore Society, he today serves as China Liaison for that group. He makes his home in Nashville, Tennessee.

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