Why Economic Dignity should be the North Star for Economic Policy

Economic Dignity, a book by Gene SperlingOn October 29th, the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics and Allegheny Law & Policy program welcomed Gene Sperling, Former Director, National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy under Presidents Clinton and Obama.  He led a lively discussion of how his call for Economic Dignity has been highlighted by the COVID crisis, and how it should inform progressive policy going forward.

His remarks centered around the principles proposed in his book, Economic Dignity.  Sperling’s book outlines a profound big-picture vision of why the promotion of dignity should be the singular end goal by which we chart America’s economic future.

Sperling focuses on three pillars, each “essential and interdependent” when considering the economic impact on the lives of everyday Americans:

  • The ability to care for family without economic deprivation or desperation denying us the most meaningful moments and joys in our most important loving relationships;
  • The capacity to pursue potential and a sense of purpose and meaning; and
  • The ability to contribute and participate in the economy with respect, free from domination or humiliation.[i]

Sperling writes, “Amid all the metrics, means, policies, labels and debates over political strategies that bombard us daily, it is this vision of economic dignity that should be the North Star for economic policy that guides us every step of the way.” (Economic Dignity, pg. 297)

Gene Sperling is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. He was President Clinton’s National Economic Advisor and Director of the National Economic Council from 1997 to 2001 and Deputy National Economic Advisor from 1993 to 1997. Mr. Sperling recently served as a top economic advisor to the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign. He is a columnist and commentator for Bloomberg Business News and a contributing editor for the DLC’s Blueprint Magazine, serves as director of the Center for Universal Education at the Council of Foreign Relations, and has been a contributing writer and consultant to the television show The West Wing. He has appeared on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, Good Morning America, Nightline, and CNN’s Late Edition, and is a frequent contributor to NPR. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Inc. magazine, Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and others.  of Form

Follow Gene on Twitter: https://twitter.com/genebsperling

[i] Sperling, Gene (2020) Penguin Press, Economic Dignity, p 30