When I first moved to Washington, D.C. in 1967, on my first morning there, a hot Saturday morning, I went for a walk up near DuPont Circle and I found a bookstore there (I've forgotten the name and it's surely gone) and I bought a prominently-displayed book called The Paper Economy, by David Bazelon.
The main idea of the book is that we have become confused about how we see the differences between paper, the paper instruments and paraphernalia of capitalism, and the capacities of capitalism to produce goods and services that could benefit all together.
Because we spend so much time on the paper side, worrying about it, gambling with it, hoarding it, and misunderstanding it, we ignore the productive capacity of what we have on our hands, a capacity for full employment and far more equality than we have today, and hence far more equality and public happiness, and far less misery and suffering.
Bazelon's book was yet another addition to our "anxieties of affluence," our growing unease with the poverty and want in the midst of a booming economy. Bazelon was a well-known social critic of the day and his book was popular. Todat his book is out of print. Bazelon died in 2005 at 82.
Some of the details of Bazelon's critique have changed but the essential insight, the failure of our seeing is still true. We could be so much better off, as a nation, if only we could come to see the reality behind our Paper Economy, to see what is in front of our nose. And as George Orwell said a long time ago, seeing that is often the very hardest thing.