Our tattered social contract
I’ve been saving this speech, in its little green booklet, in my desk drawer for 24 years. Who would have thought that the social contract we have adopted today is is exactly the tattered one that Mr. Goldmark described in 1991.
“… no one was really happy with the old social contract, which was showing signs of wear and tear, but no one was really ready to propose a new one. Instead, we bashed our government, cut taxes for the rich, borrowed from our children and dug ourselves ever deeper into social gridlock.
“We did not hear much about what we together, as Americans, ought to expect from and do for one another and our government; we heard rather that government was a bloated obstruction which stood between us and what we should take for ourselves.
“…we will endure much conflict with little chance of collaboration if we cannot write a new social contract. The old one is in tatters – and America will continue to falter and stumble until she has a new one.”
From the speech “Toward a New Social Contract” delivered by Peter C. Goldmark, Jr. former president of The Rockefeller Foundation, to the 1991 Annual Meeting of Independent Sector, describing the landscape in the United States 20 years ago.