Monday, October 06, 2003

Economics of Enterprise

Selected quotations from Economics of Enterprise by Herbert J. Davenport, New York: Macmillan, 1914.

Chapter 1

Fundamental Conditions: Man and the Environment

"The economist must...study human productive effort with constant reference to the conditions which obtain, now to further, and now to limit, the resulting product."(5)

"[T]he arctic regions and the tropical deserts do not offer favorable opportunities for...wealth-producing activities."(7)

***"The ruling forces of civilized life are the intellectual forces. The moral code of eighteen hundred years ago left, indeed, not much to be added. Laws, governments, institutions, science, art, invention, and discovery, -- these are the facts which measure the distance between civilization and savagery."(9)***

Security, property rights (i.e., institutions or actions that "settle the connection between industry and reward) and freedom of choice and from exploitation, enhance productive forces."(9) "Both slavery and feudalism suffered from this defect."(10)

***"Institutions...are a working consensus of human thought or habit, a generally established attitude of mind and a generally adopted custom of action, -- as, for example, private property, inheritance, government, taxation, competition, credit. [Looked at from the] social point of view, [they are] qualities and attributes of the human factor in production...[L]ooked at from the competitive and distributive point of view, their chief significance is in affecting the terms of the division of the aggregate product."(11)***

***"[B]y far [man's] greater progress has been worked out on the line of adapting self to environment rather than environment to self and...the most and the best of these adaptations of man to his environment have been intellectual adaptations."(13) "...conforming of himself and of his methods to the situation which he has to face...changes in the human factor in the problem (14) [and] it has been, on the whole, an intellectual rather than a physical adaptation.(15)"***

***"It is evident that, with the passing centuries, civilization is not advancing its frontiers further into the tropics; rather it is progressively retreating, making good this loss
by new conquests further toward the poles. Precisely as progress is too difficult a problem in the frigid zones for any race yet fully to have solved it, so the problem of mere existence in the tropics is so over-easy of solution as to have degraded man, through stagnation and ignorance, into an incapacity for civilization."(16)***

  • Herbert J. Davenport

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