Jose/Higher wages and productivity

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Wed Oct 20 14:53:06 MDT 1999

Philip L Ferguson wrote:

> As an aside I think there might be some rather important additional factors
> which explain the rise of US manufacturing as compared to Europe: in Europe
> a chunk of the surplus was siphoned off by the aristocracy and other
> landowners well into the industrial era (still is, in fact),

I think the presence or absence of an "official"  aristocracy is not relevant
here. The economic term is "rentier," and very early in the history of
capitalism the goal of capitalist accumulation (at the individual level)
became that of "retiring" as an active capitalist and becoming a rentier.
I believe such a class (or class sector) arose fairly early in U.S.
history. While they were not formally designated as "gentlemen" as
in theUK their "economic" function was identical. And this was true
of middling size and not merely huge fortunes.

It is this class sector who are the primary actors in much of Henry
James's fiction (and the James's father was such a rentier).

One of the reasons cattle raising at one time (perhaps even now) had
tax advantages was that so many wealthy men had retired from
their businesses (or their fathers's businesses) to become "gentlemen


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