5b - Capitalism - Economics

5b - Capitalism - Economics - From:...

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From: anonymous@britannica.com Sent: Saturday, November 09, 2002 3:17 PM To: tavakoli@unity.ncsu.edu Subject: Britannica Student Encyclopedia Article economics Britannica Student Encyclopedia The 19th-century British writer Thomas Carlyle called economics the “pig philosophy.” He held this unfavorable view because he regarded the businessman's quest for profits as mere greed. He also called economics the “dismal science” because the matters it deals with at such length are so ordinary. Carlyle lived at the time when the Industrial Revolution was still new and the modern economic system was in process of formation. His attitudes represented the way people for centuries past had thought about economic functions. More recent writers have taken a much more realistic view of economics. The management consultant Earl Bunting stated that: “The goals of business are inseparable from the goals of the whole community.” And the noted economist John Kenneth Galbraith made much the same point: “Economics deals with matters which men consider very close to their lives.” Bunting and Galbraith are more realistic because, no matter where people in the civilized world live, they are part of an economic system. To speak of a developed society is to speak of a society that has been built through vigorous economic functioning. Without economies there is no prosperity. Since the ancient world, civilization itself has been built upon economic growth. When the growth stopped, as it did at the end of the Roman Empire, civilization went into a long decline. What brought it back was the painstakingly slow emergence of workable economies. (See also Civilization, “Economics and Civilization.”) The word economy originally referred to household management—from the Greek oikos, meaning “household,” and nomos, meaning “rule,” or “governance.” Economics is the social science that studies how economies operate. There have been economies since the dawn of civilization, but economics is a recently developed field of study. It originated as a discipline during the 18th century. What an Economy Is An economy is the wealth-producing segment of society. Wealth is defined as the total produce of agriculture and manufacturing. Without products there can be no wealth. This means, of course, that money is not wealth. Money is a means of exchange and may be called the economic equivalent of wealth. Economies exist because all human beings have needs and desires. All human physical needs are the same: food, clothing, and shelter. Desires, on the other hand, are virtually infinite. No one actually needs a television set, automobile, stereo set, or microwave oven. But such commodities have become so common in modern industrialized societies that few people would be without them. The needs of society are satisfied by the production of goods—society's wealth. The desires are satisfied in the
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5b - Capitalism - Economics - From:...

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