Quotes For The Day

May 4 2013 @ 9:46pm

First, Burke on capitalism, via Corey Robin:

There must be some impulse besides public spirit, to put private interest into motion along with it. Monied men ought to be allowed to set a value on their money; if they did not, there would be no monied NPG 655,Edmund Burke,studio of Sir Joshua Reynoldsmen. This desire of accumulation is a principle without which the means of their service to the State could not exist.

The love of lucre, though sometimes carried to a ridiculous, sometimes to a vicious excess, is the grand cause of prosperity to all States. In this natural, this reasonable, this powerful, this prolific principle, it is for the satirist to expose the ridiculous; it is for the moralist to censure the vicious; it is for the sympathetick heart to reprobate the hard and cruel; it is for the Judge to animadvert on the fraud, the extortion, and the oppression: but it is for the Statesman to employ it as he finds it; with all its concomitant excellencies, with all its imperfections on its head. It is his part, in this case, as it is in all other cases, where he is to make use of the general energies of nature, to take them as he finds them.

And what Keynes actually said about the long term:

The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.

One historical note as well that Robin notes: Burke left behind one son who left no others. Keynes did procreate, but his wife miscarried. This, of course, did not make him bisexual, Howie; he was still gay at a time when you could be jailed for it.

I’m also always struck when some American conservatives think of Keynes as some kind of crypto-commie.

He believed in running surpluses in times of growth – and in spending in times of recession. If we had adhered to those two principles in the last 13 years, we’d clearly be better off. And note the real culprit here: George W. Bush’s reckless tax cuts and unfunded wars after inheriting a fragile surplus.

Just for the record, here’s Keynes unloading on Marx:

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.

I’ll have more to say about homosexuals and future generations tomorrow. It’s actually an important and interesting subject – despite the ugly, stupid remarks that occasioned it.