Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reading some W.E.B. DuBois this morning...

...this was good:

"Thus the shadow of hunger, in a world which never needs to be hungry, drives us to war and murder and hate. But why does hunger shadow so vast a mass of men? Manifestly because in the great organizing of men for work a few of the participants come out with more wealth than they can possibly use, while a vast number emerge with less than can decently support life. In earlier economic stages we defended this as the reward of Thrift and Sacrifice, and as the punishment of Ignorance and Crime. To this the answer is sharp: Sacrifice calls for no such reward and Ignorance deserves no such punishment. The chief meaning of our present thinking is that the disproportion between wealth and poverty today cannot be adequately accounted for by the thrift and ignorance of the rich and the poor."

From "Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil" (1920). Earlier in the text he gives a very good account of the war-time inflation, its relationship to the increase in labor turmoil, and the relationship between the labor turmoil and worsening race relations.

This particular line seemed like it could have come right out of Keynes. It gets even more Keynesian further down in this selection. He talks about interest as the "price paid for waste" (that sounds like a liquidity preference theory of interest to me), and profit as the "price paid for chance".

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