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
In referring to the management of the just completed (1921) war effort, Veblen presents this summary:
And the tale of its adventures, so far as a businesslike reticence has allowed them to become known, is an amazing comedy of errors; which runs substantially to the same issue whether it is told of one or another of the many departments, boards, councils, commissions, and administrations that have had this work to do.
“the difference between the avowed purpose and the tangible performance” What I would refer to as taking the intent for the act because the difference is not recognized. Veblen was observant, albeit impractical himself.
The sentimental deference of the American people to the sagacity of its business men is massive, profound and alert. So much so that it will take harsh and protacted experience to remove it, or to divert it sufficiently for the purpose of any revolutionary diversion.
Veblen does not make a connection to what is increasingly obvious–that business or commerce are nothing more than secular versions of religion. It may be too simplistic to say the almighty dollar has replaced the Almighty God and, indeed, holds out the promise of imitative humans actually achieving the greatness they so much admire in the Supreme Being. Sentimental Americans are preprogrammed for the promise of commercial success. Heaven on earth.