Wealth and Welfare, the Backgrounds of American Economics

Wealth and Welfare, the Backgrounds of American Economics

Wealth and Welfare, the Backgrounds of American Economics

Wealth and Welfare, the Backgrounds of American Economics

Excerpt

There are three approaches to the discussion of economics. These are: the analytical, the comparative, the historical. Of these three the analytical is the common treatment; it is, in fact, the only treatment that most of us have known. This approach takes up the free-enterprise economy as it is said to be found in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and attempts to show how it operates. The basic assumption of practically all these writers is that our economy is universal and automatic, that, given human nature as we know it or think we know it, every individual seeking to satisfy his own wants will produce and consume goods and services of the character and in the amounts that will assure the highest possible national income and a standard of living that is superior to anything achieved anywhere at any time in all history. This comes about, according to the analysis, under free competitive conditions, and when it fails in any respect the fault lies with those persons and practices that interfere with the free market, by government action or monopoly.

The comparative treatment is not ordinarily, if ever, found alone, because presumably this would be an admission that there is a real choice. But there were a number of economies before free enterprise, and there are at present at least two competing systems -- socialist . . .

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