Past Event

What's Possible? Government and the Economy

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Ever since the 2000 elections, we’ve gotten used to the notion of a nation made up of red states and blue states, a nation divided politically and culturally, whose citizens can find little common ground.  How do government and the economy relate to that debate?

What is the role of government in promoting a strong economy? How much can government actually do? How much should it do? Can it spur economic activity, create jobs and if so, how? By being smaller? By spending more? What are the possibilities for the relationship between the state and the economy? Is growth the only or main indicator of a healthy economy? Are there other criteria we should consider, particularly in a global economy where the rules seem to be changing, where nothing is solid? Is a smaller government better for the economy? Are countries that have shrunk government experiencing GDP growth as expected?  Are there lessons to be learned from the models of other countries (say China and Brazil)?

Please join us for a conversation with experts who are thinking, writing and talking about these issues, as we continue our new series, The (Un)Common Good.

Read presenter Tom Geoghegan’s The Nation piece, “Ten Things Dems Could Do to Win” and Op-Ed Columnist Charles M. Blow’s New York Times article, “The Pirates of Capitol Hill” for interesting perspectives on some of these issues. 


  • Dan Proft – principal of Starfish, a digital content-focused public affairs firm, Chapter President of Operation Homefront Illinois, a non-profit that provides emergency assistance to Illinois military families, Senior Fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute, and 2010 Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate
  • Kathy Ryg – president of Voices for Illinois Children, 2010 Paul Simon Service Award winner for her efforts in government reform, and former state legislator representing the 59th District of Illinois from 2003-2009
  • N. Don Wycliff nationally recognized expert on ethics, Distinguished Journalist in Residence at Loyola University and former Editorial Page Editor for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame member
  • Tom Geoghegan – author of Were You Born On the Wrong Continent? How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life, and a labor, civil rights and public interest lawyer at Chicago firm Despres, Schwartz and Geoghegan, Ltd.
  • Laura S. Washington – Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times and Political Analyst, ABC-7 Chicago (moderator).

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required and can be made online, by emailing, or by calling 312.422.5580.

What’s Possible?” is presented in partnership with the Skokie Public Library.

Lead sponsorship for The (Un)Common Good series is provided by The Boeing Company, with additional travel support provided by Southwest Airlines.
WBEZ Chicago is the media sponsor.


This program is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Views and opinions expressed by individual panelists, scholars, and artists in The (Un)Common Good do not necessarily state or reflect those of partner organizations in the series, the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, or the Illinois General Assembly.

For more information, please call 312.422.5580.