Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Jeffersonian Political Economy

 Jefferson peale

Your other lecturers have pleasant and upbeat subjects to consider. I am stuck with economics, which is a notoriously dreary subject.   It is even more of a downer when we consider how far the U.S. is today from a Southern, Jeffersonian political economy which was once a powerful idea.

Economics as practiced today is a utilitarian and materialistic study. It is concerned with maximizing profit, with describing the actions of man as an economic being, and explaining the allegedly inevitable results of supposed economic laws.   Our Southern forebears did not practice economics. They practiced political economy—which is concerned with human well-being.   Those old-time Southerners did not assume that man is to be understood wholly or chiefly as an economic being. They did not believe that the economic conditions they faced were entirely determined by  abstract laws—but rather that they were the result of human decisions, some of them the product of corrupt politics.

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