Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy Schumpeter

Reading about the various Occupy demonstrations around the country, I keep thinking of this quotation by Joseph Schumpeter from his Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy:
"Electric lighting is no great boon to anyone who has money enough to buy a sufficient number of candles and to pay servants to attend them. It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabric, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as a rule improvements that would mean much to a rich man. Queen Elizabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort." p 67.
It is quite possible that none of the Occupy people have read Joseph Schumpeter though they all enjoy the fruits of capitalism.  Few probably have any idea who he was.

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