Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Keynes Quote of the Day

From Britain's Industrial Future:
The notion that the only way to get enough effort out of the brain-worker is to offer him unfettered opportunities of making an unlimited fortune is as baseless as the companion idea that the only way of getting enough effort out of the manual worker is to hold over him the perpetual threat of starvation and misery for himself and those he loves. It has never been even supposed to be true, at all events in England, of the soldier, the statesman, the civil servant, the teacher, the scientist, the technical expert.
And to think this was the Orange Book of 1928! Times have changed.

They sure have. Then, it seemed like the move away from institutions based on material incentives to institutions based on intrinsic motivation was well underway, or at least realizable. While today -- perhaps in Britain even more than the US -- the tide is running strong the other way, with the good and great eager to get teachers and technicians, if not yet soldiers and statesmen, onto the unlimited-fortune/starvation-and-misery plan.

The context of the quote is interesting, too -- it's part of a larger argument for the "more or less comprehensive socialization of investment" Keynes would continue to argue for in the General Theory. Since managers of private firms already work for "a certain salary, plus the hope of promotion or bonus," nothing would change if their businesses were publicly owned: "The performance of functions by Public Concerns in place of privately owned Companies and Corporations would make but little difference to the ordinary man." If soi-disant hard Keynesians read more Keynes, they would find a much more radical vision there than countercyclical fiscal policy.


(via Jim Crotty's unpublished book on Keynes. Encouraging him to get that thing out is high up on my list of life goals. Britain's Industrial Future was officially written by a committee of Liberal grandees headed by Lloyd George. But this passage was written by Keynes, Crotty says, and he would know.)

1 comment:

  1. Mrs Wilecia BerbanaNovember 19, 2017 at 4:20 AM

    What an incredible story in my life, I am Mrs Wilecia Berbana ,currently living in New York City, USA. I am a widow at the moment with three kids and i was stuck in a financial situation. Last two months i needed to refinance and pay my bills and some others serious debt. I was looking for a loan of $ 650,000.00 USD then I apply for a loan in one of the on-line loan company where i was scam about $3,800,00 usd in lending in the UK, but when I put the complain my good friend told me that the only place to get a loan on-line is CONSUMER LOAN FIRM the company is 100% guarantee that if I apply in a business loan I am to get the loan without any delay in the transaction, so i did, with a great fear in my heart not to loose money for the second time. My brothers and sister i want to let you know that there are still good people in the world we can trust and have faith on. With the advice of my friend in which I ask the company for a loan last week and to my greatest surprise i just got my loan yesterday. My hope and trust was all gone but now i new there are real loan firm we can trust. Am using this opportunity to inform you all that if you are in need of a loan, do not go else where so sick for a loan. i have found a real loan lender that can help you because he told me that the success of the societies is his pride i want you to sick for a loan in CONSUMER LOAN FIRM. Here are the company email: consumerloanfirm@gmail.com And i promise you that your life will never remain the same again, I will be waiting to hear your own testimony. Mrs Wilecia Berbana

    ReplyDelete