Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Timothy Taylor — Engels Rebuts Malthus

Instructive for those unfamiliar Engels. He has the reputation as Marx's sidekick, financial benefactor, and sort of assistant in collaboration, definitely playing a secondary and subordinate role. But reading the Marx-Engels correspondence dispels that simplistic notion. While is true that Engels depends on Marx for his fame, he was a high-level thinker in his own right.

This also dispels the false rumor that Marx and Engels did not appreciate the contribution of science, technology and innovation to economics.

Tim Tayor does mention that Engels presumes that there is no necessity of monetary incentive based on competition for profit to bring forth investment and fund technological development.
It made me smile a bit to contemplate Engels offering a defense of rising output driven by technological progress (and apparently no need for market-based incentives to raise output) as a central part of his challenge to Malthus.
I have always wondered why economists believe that this assumption about the need for money incentive is self-evident, so that creative people need to bribed to create. This belies the evidence of "the starving artist" and "the mad inventor." Creative people create and many if not most want to share this bounty with others without great concern for monetary recompense beyond needs and basic wants. At the opposite end of the spectrum, many of the super-rich also continue to "work" until they are no longer able to do so. Does Warren Buffet need the money or even have any use for more of it?

Conversable Economist
Engels Rebuts Malthus
Timothy Taylor | Managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, based at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota

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