We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
By the time he began to publish in the 1890s, academic economics was in the throes of a counter-revolution sponsored by large landholders, bankers and monopolists denying that there was any such thing as unearned income. The new post-classical mainstream accepted existing property rights and privileges as a “given.” In contrast to Veblen’s argument that the economy was all about organizing predatory schemes, this approach culminated in Milton Friedman’s Chicago School defense the pro-rentier argument: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”
This blunt denial rejected the preceding three centuries of classical value and price theory, along with its policy conclusions promoting taxation of land and other natural endowments, and financial reform. Dropped from view was rentier overhead in the form of predatory and unproductive forms of wealth seeking. The post-classical mainstream treats all income as “earned,” including that of rentiers. Lacking the classical concepts of unproductive labor, credit or investment, today’s textbooks describe income as a reward for one’s contribution to production, and wealth is being “saved up” as a result of someone’s productive investment effort, not as an unearned or predatory free lunch...
Veblen rocks! I think one of the reasons he did such a good job was that he had much better instincts about human nature than Marx ever did. Economics is NOT a dismal science when one is reading Veblen, because his observations can be funny as well as skewering our less than admirable motivations. As a dog lover, I laughed at this:
"The dog has advantages in the way of uselessness as well as in special gifts of temperament. ...the dog is man's servant and that he has the gift of an unquestioning subservience and a slave's quickness in guessing his master's mood. ...the dog has some characteristics which are of a more equivocal aesthetic value. He is the filthiest of the domestic animals in his person and the nastiest in his habits. For this he makes up is a servile, fawning attitude towards his master, and a readiness to inflict damage and discomfort on all else. ...The dog is at the same time associated... with the chase—a meritorious employment and an expression of the honorable predatory impulse."
p.141 The Theory of the Leisure Class