Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tony Wikrent — Commerce, Christianity, and Civilization Vs. British Free Trade: Henry Carey's replies to the London Times, February 1876

The American system of Alexander Hamilton and the British system of Adam Smith and David Ricardo.
The Times editor excoriated by name Henry C. Carey, the leading USA economist of the time, a staunch protectionist who had written the economic policy planks of the 1860 Republican Party platform on which Abraham Lincoln ran for President. But American protectionism was much more than simply a rejection the concept of comparative advantage. Michael Hudson explains in the Preface to his 2010 book America’s Protectionist Takeoff: The Neglected American School of Political Economy:
"The protectionist doctrine that shaped America's industry and agriculture... went beyond the narrow boundaries of today's economics discipline by deeming public policy and technology central to economic theorizing, not 'exogenous.' Analyzing what was needed to increase productivity, the American School emphasized that wages and prices had to be high enough to sustain rising living and educational standards for labor, and investment in rising energy mobilization by capital."
 But the American School even went beyond that. Carey and other American School economists always kept in view the ultimate goal of economic policies: the establishment and enhancement of civilization. 
In the Conclusion to his 1851 book, The Harmony of Interests: Agricultural, Manufacturing & Commercial, Carey wrote that the British system of free trade "looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism," while the American School aims "to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization."


Matt Franko said...

Wah happened?!?!?!

(tip: one word answer that begins with an "L"....)

Dan Lynch said...

It's good to see Henry Carey getting some recognition. He has largely been forgotten.