I've been spending evenings and weekends recently with the Occupy protestors in DC. I can't stay full time because, unlike many protestors, I have two children and a full-time job. But I clearly share their interests and I'm glad they're making the ruckus.
Our economy is broken. Hard work doesn't pay, and the rewards of work are unequally shared. Our democracy is broken. The government doesn't listen to the people, captive to giant corporations and small numbers of large donors.
What should we do about it? One complaint issued against the protestors is the lack of a plan. This complaint is unfair: we know what they want, even without the policy details. Regulate Wall Street, rebuild the infrastructure, spend war money at home, tax the top end, create jobs, etc.
See Innovation created the book, Dream of a Nation. It collects ideas by leading thinkers and presents them in graphically interesting, full color essays complete with anecdotes, statistics and everything else a movement needs to put ideas to work. Subjects range from the economy and education to democracy and war. There are recommendations for both policymakers and individuals.
I contributed a chapter on the economy, "Make it in America," about the importance of manufacturing. Please permit me to quote myself:
"No matter what happens with top-end services, a country still needs things. Whether it is cars, computers or refrigerators, if we don't make them here, then someone else gets our money. Yes, we ran a $144 billion surplus in services in 2008. But we ran an $840 billion deficit in goods in the same year. Between 1999 and 2009 America imported $6.8 trillion more goods than we exported.
This is not natural economic evolution. The changes were the result of policy choices that can be made differently..."
We don't need more policy papers! Universities, think tanks and even the halls of Congress are filled with ideas. We know how to do this. See Innovation kindly pulled it together into a collection that Publishers Weekly calls "a must read for anyone that wants to be a part of the solution."
If you don't believe them, read it yourself.
All that's missing is political will. Maybe the Occupiers will help push us to start.
This piece originally appeared at the Campaign for America's Future.