‘Twas a terrible day, worse that the message was not understood even after the World Trade Center was hit twice. That the use of money to extort the natural resources and labor of the people’s of the world and leave them with barely enough to survive is wrong simply does not register with a commercial class that sees only profit for itself.
It has taken me a long time to understand that because I have no interest in commerce (moving things around to nab a share) or ruling. The wedding of church and chamber is quite an innovation, more practical than selling indulgences. Though the latter is obviously antecedent. Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple, but not for good. The Almighty Dollar is not ironic. The deification of the currency makes it hard to see it as just a tool.
Quotes are from the last chapter of “The Engineers and the Price System”
“the terms of commercial accountancy, which is the same as saying, the accountancy of absentee ownership and free income” is what Veblen aims to displace. I am not sure he had identified commerce as the melavolent enterprise it was about to become. He recognized businessmen as antagonists but semmed unaware of the wider network which, in the last forty years, has gone global. As the child of immigrants, he probably considered their migration as beneficial
I had put off reading the last section in Thorstein Veblen’s “The Engineers and the Price System,” in which he suggested that, if they got their act together, production engineers could lead a major revision of the industrial economy from an emphasis on generating wealth for absentee owners to one that focuses on production of goods and services.
Corporations are organized for profit, not performance. They are intellectualized versions of predation. That is, their object is to exploit, not create or serve. Veblen blamed absentee ownership, but I am not sure that is the problem. More likely it is that while ownership is granted based on the assumption it generates stewardship and care, owners are inclined to see it as a permit to abuse.
My own thinking this morning is along the lines of how the architects of economic theory, as opposed to the agents of household management, have, from the start been keen to construct a system that justifies their own indolence. Certainly, that is what Veblen did in defining the leisure class to categorize his own self-importance. That, in his first marriage, he married into money derived from the railroad connection to California, explains why both he and his older brother Andrew, ended up dying there, even as this history of Minnesota’s transformations explains Thorstein Veblen’s continued promotion as a favorite son. While he correctly predicted that no sudden revolt would upend the industrial system, his myopia led him, as well as others, to overlook that eventually the environmental cupboard would not only be bare, but harbor poisons.
Thorstein Veblen’s older sister had a more comprehensive perspective on society. Though, in his later writings, Thorstein did replace his invention, “the leisure class,” with the more accurate, “the kept.” He himself was a kept man who never produced anything but words.
If Thorstein Veblen is to be believed, the categories of activity considered by economists were determined by who gets paid (rent, wages or profit). In other words, activity is judged according to the effect, rather than the cause. In other words, economic analysis is fixated on results and numerically quantifiable results at that. Veblen says technological innovation has been left out because there is nobody claiming rewards. And he claims that “entrepreneurs” have been added because they make increasingly large claims, which are validated by increasing profits. It is all ass-backwards.
Who lends $980,000 in 2009 to a 67 year old woman on a property that has a market value of $560,000 in 2021 and does not register the fact that the woman died in 2018 and passed the property on to an heir? Onewest Bank FSB, which has been succeeded by the Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB. Financiers.
Why is our economy in a mess? Financiers.
It started in the sixties when farmers were persuaded to borrow from the banks to purchase equipment to increase productivity for which there was no market. So, they could not pay off the loans and the banks took the land for suburbanization.