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the_affluent_society [2017/12/07 14:36]
will [The American Mood]
the_affluent_society [2017/12/07 14:38]
will [The American Mood]
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 The central tradition((Galbraith's rather inclusive term for economic orthodoxy, including the various schisms not usually counted as 'classical economics' or included in other similar terms, such as Keynesianism.)) had a much greater influence on American economic thinking than any native thinkers.  However, those that did exist were generally as or more pessimistic about the future of the economic system than the classical school --- somewhat surprisingly, given the greater economic opportunities of the New World and the stereotype of American optimism. The central tradition((Galbraith's rather inclusive term for economic orthodoxy, including the various schisms not usually counted as 'classical economics' or included in other similar terms, such as Keynesianism.)) had a much greater influence on American economic thinking than any native thinkers.  However, those that did exist were generally as or more pessimistic about the future of the economic system than the classical school --- somewhat surprisingly, given the greater economic opportunities of the New World and the stereotype of American optimism.
  
-Henry Charles Clay was the only one that could be considered an optimist.  He noted the tendency of wages to rise in new settlements as more fertile land could be cleared for agricultural use, although he suspected that America might also ultimately reach a phase in which all land was in use and labour productivity must therefore fall.+[[wp>Henry Charles Clay]] was the only one that could be considered an optimist.  He noted the tendency of wages to rise in new settlements as more fertile land could be cleared for agricultural use, although he suspected that America might also ultimately reach a phase in which all land was in use and labour productivity must therefore fall.
  
-Henry George, like Marx, was the founder of a faith.  He agreed with Ricardo that increasing population would lead inevitably to more intensive working of land --- and thus to a lower return to labour and a higher return to the landlord (increasing rents, falling wages).  He also noticed the effect that land speculation (anticipating these rises in rent) had on the economic cycle --- real estate bubbles played a central role in many of the American panics that he witnessed.  However, he also proposed a solution --- he advocated the nationalisation of land (or rather, equivalently, an annual land tax equal to the estimated return of land in its unimproved state).  He was pessimistic as to the economic future of society were this not to be achieved.+[[wp>Henry George]], like Marx, was the founder of a faith.  He agreed with Ricardo that increasing population would lead inevitably to more intensive working of land --- and thus to a lower return to labour and a higher return to the landlord (increasing rents, falling wages).  He also noticed the effect that land speculation (anticipating these rises in rent) had on the economic cycle --- real estate bubbles played a central role in many of the American panics that he witnessed.  However, he also proposed a solution --- he advocated the nationalisation of land (or rather, equivalently, an annual land tax equal to the estimated return of land in its unimproved state).  He was pessimistic as to the economic future of society were this not to be achieved.
  
-Thorstein Veblen anticipated an increasing conflict between industry and business --- industry had a deplorable instinct to overproduce, undercutting business' attempts to make money.  Business always wins.  Monopoly triumphs; output is constrained but all wealth flows to the mighty few.  Yet depressions are a normal part of the system, they cannot be avoided.  Inequality would be enormous and would continue to rise.  Yet he held the rich more in contempt than responsible.+[[wp>Thorstein Veblen]] anticipated an increasing conflict between industry and business --- industry had a deplorable instinct to overproduce, undercutting business' attempts to make money.  Business always wins.  Monopoly triumphs; output is constrained but all wealth flows to the mighty few.  Yet depressions are a normal part of the system, they cannot be avoided.  Inequality would be enormous and would continue to rise.  Yet he held the rich more in contempt than responsible.
  
 However, he believed the cultural consequences of the changes which society were undergoing were far more severe than the inevitable impoverishment of almost everybody.  Factory labour undermined the family and church.  Bringing workers into close contact with one another, through unions, would lead to the breakdown of law and order --- socialism being next to anarchy. However, he believed the cultural consequences of the changes which society were undergoing were far more severe than the inevitable impoverishment of almost everybody.  Factory labour undermined the family and church.  Bringing workers into close contact with one another, through unions, would lead to the breakdown of law and order --- socialism being next to anarchy.
  
-The American tradition also adopted the Social Darwinism of Herbert Spencer (an Englishman), through the work of William Graham Sumner.  Spencer, not Darwin, coined the phrase 'survival of the fittest' and provided one of the most politically useful ideologies in history: the destitution, starvation and inability to reproduce of the genetically inferior was a benign force necessary to the improvement of the species.  Moreover, any attempt to alleviate this process through charity or government action was not only expensive, but immoral.  The doctrine provided previously lacking justification for the inheritance of wealth: if the father was biologically superior, genetics dictated that so would be the son.+The American tradition also adopted the [[wp>Social Darwinism]] of [[wp>Herbert Spencer]] (an Englishman), through the work of [[wp>William Graham Sumner]].  Spencer, not Darwin, coined the phrase 'survival of the fittest' and provided one of the most politically useful ideologies in history: the destitution, starvation and inability to reproduce of the genetically inferior was a benign force necessary to the improvement of the species.  Moreover, any attempt to alleviate this process through charity or government action was not only expensive, but immoral.  The doctrine provided previously lacking justification for the inheritance of wealth: if the father was biologically superior, genetics dictated that so would be the son.
  
 ====== The Marxian Pall ====== ====== The Marxian Pall ======
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