Cover image for The greater good : how philanthropy drives the American economy and can save capitalism
The greater good : how philanthropy drives the American economy and can save capitalism
Gaudiani, Claire.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Times Books/Henry Holt, [2003]

Physical Description:
288 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV91 .G37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HV91 .G37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A persuasive re-examination of American prosperity and the generosity that has built our nation For over a century, the United States has stood as a beacon of prosperity and democracy, proof that big business and big dreams could flourish side by side. Yet few Americans realize the crucial role that generosity plays in keeping that fragile balance. And now, with gated communities, oppressive personal debts, shrinking government, and tax and welfare reform crusades, that essential moral glue is at risk of melting away.A leading voice for community development, former Connecticut College president and scholar Claire Gaudiani explores all these issues as she examines American prosperity from the Constitution to the New Economy bust. She traces the push and pull of the robber barons and the progressive movement, the New Deal and the postwar boom, and the Me Decade and the technology revolution, finding that altruism powerfully invests in people, property, and ingenuity. Rather than pitting the capitalists against the populists, Gaudiani brings both sides to the table to reseal this fundamental social contract and provide a blueprint for a just future. The Greater Good is a passionate, pragmatic, and, finally, optimistic manifesto for revitalizing the promise of the American economy.

Author Notes

Now a senior research scholar at Yale Law School, Claire Gaudiani was most recently president of Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, from 1988 until 2001. She also served as volunteer president of the New London Development Corporation, where she spearheaded the city's revitalization efforts through partnerships among businesses, the government, and the community to build the tax base, create jobs, improve education, and develop housing. She lives in New Haven and Groton, Connecticut

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In a way, former Connecticut College president Gaudiani has an axe to grind. Her thesis here is that generosity, as one of the most widely shared U.S. values (on average, we give 2 percent of our Gross Domestic Product, compared to the U.K.'s statistic--our closest competitor--of 0.7 percent), is fast receding. She builds her case carefully, pointing to the tremendous positive impact American philanthropy has had on human, physical, and intellectual capital, from the GI Bill and Sears Roebuck-founder Julius Rosenwald's construction of Chicago's famed Museum of Science and Industry to the formation of such nonprofits as MADD and Environmental Defense. To continue those kinds of contributions, she contends, demands eight different solutions, including making meaningful partnerships, plans that grow giving, more home ownership for low- and lower-middle-income citizens, community centers, among others. It is, indeed, an intelligent and well-reasoned argument designed to promote the greater good. And, on paper at least, it works. --Barbara Jacobs Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

As president of Connecticut College in the 1990s, Gaudiani saw the school's endowment quintuple, no doubt bolstering her enthusiasm for philanthropy and inspiring this foray into writing about public policy. Declaring "no people on earth are as generous with their money as Americans are," Gaudiani posits "citizen generosity" as not just an alternative to government spending or corporate investment, but an integral fulfillment of the nation's "democratic imperative" of upward mobility. She mostly chooses her historical examples well, as in sections on Chicago's vibrant (and lucrative) museum culture and the origins of the March of Dimes, but does stumble occasionally: as evidence of our generosity, an early chapter observes that 89% of Americans made charitable donations in 2001-but fails to mention that September 11 might have made the year's giving patterns atypical. Her optimism also leads to a debatable argument that the happiness the founding fathers wanted us to pursue lay in contributing to others' success and that revived attention to various religious championings of generosity could inspire a philanthropic revolution. Gaudiani makes much of the idea that we need charity because we can't rely on government to fix our problems, especially since we hate paying taxes, and conservatives and libertarians will undoubtedly cite this book to support increased tax cuts "freeing up" money for donations. Some will agree, some will not, but what can anyone really say against a book that suggests we all give more to charity? Agent, Tina Bennett. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Philanthropy has always been vital to the growth of our country, argues former Connecticut College president Gaudiani. From Colonial times, Americans have always been willing to open their pockets for philanthropic appeals, which represent a form of "investment in our democracy and our economy." Whether it is a Rockefeller giving away millions or schoolchildren handing over pennies, Gaudiani feels that this spirit of generosity is something uniquely American and one of the country's great strengths. She points out that many institutions taken for granted today (e.g., the Smithsonian) would never have been established without a bequest from enlightened and generous donors. In addition, extending philanthropy to scholarships has enabled us to develop our "human capital," benefiting countless generations. But as companies lay off thousands and large-scale philanthropic contributions are scaled back, Gaudiani wonders if we are at a crossroads. If our generosity dries up, how will our culture endure? As Gaudiana acknowledges, there are no easy answers. This is an eloquent and thoughtfully written work that sheds light on the cultural importance of American philanthropy. Recommended for larger libraries and philanthropic collections.-Richard Drezen, Washington Post/New York City Bureau (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: How Philanthropy Saves American Capitalismp. 1
1. Democracy, Capitalism, and Generosity: The Fragile Balancep. 9
2. Making the Most of People Through Education: Human Capital, Part Onep. 31
3. Making the Most of People Beyond Education: Human Capital, Part Twop. 59
4. Expanding the Built Environment: Physical Capitalp. 75
5. Advancing New Ideas: Intellectual Capitalp. 107
6. Generosity and the Future of Democratic Capitalismp. 134
7. The Challenge of America's Wealth and the Coming Wealth Transferp. 158
8. The Challenge of Diversityp. 170
9. Dangerous Donationsp. 188
10. Working Solutionsp. 198
11. A Philanthropic Revolutionp. 219
Notesp. 243
Bibliographyp. 257
Acknowledgmentsp. 271
Indexp. 275