LABORATORIES OF DEMOCRACY by David Osborne

LABORATORIES OF DEMOCRACY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An interesting, well-argued theory that the experimentation in social and economic policies going on in today's states and localities is a precursor to national policy of the future. The author is a regular contributor to Harper's, Atlantic, The New Republic, and Mother Jones. Osborne suggests that we are currently replicating the conditions of the Progressive Era, in which state governments stepped out of their traditional conservative role to become the nation's innovators by trying out policies that FDR would later borrow whole-cloth for his New Deal. By focusing on six governors--Thornburgh of Penn.; Clinton of Ark,; Babbitt of Ariz.; Dukakis of Mass.; Cuomo of N.Y.; and Blanchard of Mich.--Osborne demonstrates how these states have actually sought to solve problems that the federal government either hopes will go away or waits for the next upturn in the economic cycle to resolve. He is convincing in his theory, if only for the reason that two of the great state issues of the past decade--economic competitiveness and excellence in education--are emerging as major themes in the current presidential contest. So how are the states creating successful policies? Osborne describes their dedication to a vibrant intellectual infrastructure; a skilled, educated work force; an attractive quality of life; an entrepreneurial climate; a sufficient supply of risk capital, a market for new ideas; industrial modernization; a cooperative and flexible industrial culture; and a social system that supports innovation and change. One of the revolutionary concepts that has found favor in this ""neoprogressivism"" is the states' providing risk capital for new businesses, as well as the formation of CDCs (Community Development Corporations). An important work that should serve as a guide to all of our state governments, and also to national leaders looking for ways to bring America back into world competitiveness.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1988
Publisher: Harvard Business School Press--dist. by Harper & Row