Friday, February 18, 2011

Was Emerson a Capitalist?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his 1844 lecture, "The Young American":

The philosopher and lover of man have much harm to say of trade; but the historian will see that trade was the principle of Liberty; that trade planted America and destroyed Feudalism; that it makes peace and keeps peace, and it will abolish slavery.

Was Mr. Emerson a proponent of the Keynesian school of economics? Keep reading.

Bonus: We devise sumptuary and relief laws, but the principle of population is always reducing wages to the lowest pittance on which human life can be sustained. We legislate against forestalling and monopoly; we would have a common granary for the poor; but the selfishness which hoards the corn for high prices, is the preventive of famine; and the law of self-preservation is surer policy than any legislation can be. We concoct eleemosynary systems, and it turns out that our charity increases pauperism. We inflate our paper currency, we repair commerce with unlimited credit, and are presently visited with unlimited bankruptcy.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say Emerson was no Keynesian :-)

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