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By John Kenneth Galbraith
Galbraith supplies scholars economists alike the historical past in the back of present fiscal thoughts. He outlines the moral judgments that stay from the family economies of the Greeks to fashionable capitalism.
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Additional info for Economics in Perspective: A Critical History
Not surprisingly, Aristotle strongly condemned the taking of interest: "The most hated sort [of moneymaking], and with the greatest reason, is usury. . "7 For the same reason that interest was an unworthy exaction from the less fortunate arising from the possession of the money by the more fortunate interest continued to be strongly condemned throughout the Middle Ages. And here there is a point for later emphasis: only when interest was redefined as a payment for productive capital when it became compellingly evident that the one who borrowed money made money out of doing so and should, in all justice, share some of the return with the original lender did it become reputable.
Again the importance of seeing matters in their context. Along with what determines prices and the distributive shares go the other central questions. The first is how income distributed as wages, interest, profits and rent is diffused or concentrated how equitable or inequitable is the income distribution. The explanations and rationalizations of the resulting inequality over the centuries have commanded some of the greatest, or in any case Page 7 some of the most ingenious, talent of the economics profession.
In the time of the Greek city-states and the Athenian Empire and later in the age of Rome, many, if not most, of the problems mentioned did not, in fact, exist. The basic industry of both Greece and Rome was agriculture; the producing unit was the household; the labor force was the slaves. The intellectual, political, cultural and substantial measure of the residential life centered on the cities, and it is of these Sparta, Corinth, Athens and most notably Rome that the history is written. But the ancient cities, large or, as was the common case, very small (Rome and a few Italian cities excepted), were not economic centers as that term is now understood.