Category Archives: Economy


‘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.
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Commerce is King

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.

A few more bon mots from Veblen

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

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The Soviet of Technicians

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.
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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.

Exchange, industry ……in Minnesota

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.
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