Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Schumpeter's great insight into capitalism and its achievements (amv)

There are no doubt some things available to the modern workman that Louis XIV himself would have been delighted to have—modern dentistry for instance. On the whole, however, a budget on that level had little that really mattered to gain from capitalist achievement. Even speed of traveling may be assumed to have been a minor consideration for so very dignified a gentleman. Electric lighting is no great boon to anyone who has enough money 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 rule improvements that would mean much to the 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 reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort.

HT to Cafe Hayek's Russell Roberts.

BTW: The recent EconTalk interview is with McCraw on Schumpeter.