Introduction: The Social
Dimensions of Growth
THIS book confronts a number of the most persistent problems in American society: a hard core of poverty and welfare dependency, urban crisis, the growth of the technically oriented corporation, environmental cliffhanging, and chaos at all levels of education. It is the thesis of this book that these problems are closely intertwined—that in fact they are unforeseen and misunderstood consequences of a characteristic pattern intrinsic to the dynamics of modern industrial society. This pattern is not simply an expositional contrivance that allows the author to fit a full array of current and relevant topics between the covers of a single book. Rather, the pattern is fundamental, and its implications force a rethinking of the process of economic growth and the rationale of economic policy.
The misunderstandings extend further. The past decade has been a time of economic stagnation, serious threat of depression, and unprecedented inflation. These are shown to be the outcome of policy failures directly attributable to misunderstanding of the growth process and mismanagement of the forces that contribute to growth. The allegation of mismanagement is broad; it covers the grotesqueries of the Nixon-Ford administrators, Burns, Simon, Greenspan, et al., and extends to include an opposition which failed to present to the public an intelligent comprehensive counterview. The nominal change in administrations hardly alters the situation. The legacy of cultivated public ignorance remains; the benchmarks of what constitutes satisfactory economic performance are