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Quotes of the day: Thorstein Veblen
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Published Wednesday, July 29, 2015 @ 1:31 PM EDT
Jul 29 2015

Thorstein Bunde Veblen (born Torsten Bunde Veblen; July 30, 1857 - August 3, 1929) was an American economist and sociologist, and leader of the institutional economics movement. Veblen is credited for the main technical principle used by institutional economists, known as the Veblenian dichotomy. It is a distinction between what Veblen called "institutions" and "technology". Besides his technical work, Veblen was a popular and witty critic of capitalism, as illustrated by his best-known book The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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All business sagacity reduces itself in the last analysis to judicious use of sabotage.

Born in iniquity and conceived in sin, the spirit of nationalism has never ceased to bend human institutions to the service of dissension and distress.

Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure.

In modern civilized communities... the members of each stratum accept as their ideal of decency the scheme of life in vogue in the next higher stratum.

In order to stand well in the eyes of the community, it is necessary to come up to a certain, somewhat indefinite, conventional standard of wealth.

In point of substantial merit the law school belongs in the modern university no more than a school of fencing or dancing.

In the modern industrial communities... the apparatus of living has grown so elaborate and cumbrous... that the consumers of these things cannot make way with them in the required manner without help.

In the rare cases where it occurs, a failure to increase one's visible consumption when the means for an increase are at hand is felt in popular apprehension to call for explanation, and unworthy motives of miserliness are imputed.

Invention is the mother of necessity.

It frequently happens that an element of the standard of living which set out with being primarily wasteful, ends with becoming, in the apprehension of the consumer, a necessary of life.

It is always sound business to take any obtainable net gain, at any cost and at any risk to the rest of the community.

No one traveling on a business trip would be missed if he failed to arrive.

The chief use of servants is the evidence they afford of the master's ability to pay.

The dog commends himself to our favor by affording play to our propensity for mastery.

The domestic life of most classes is relatively shabby, as compared with the éclat of that overt portion of their life that is carried on before the eyes of observers.

The institution of a leisure class has emerged gradually during the transition from primitive savagery to barbarism; or more precisely, during the transition from a peaceable to a consistently warlike habit of life.

The need of conspicuous waste... stands ready to absorb any increase in the community's industrial efficiency or output of goods.

The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.

The possession of wealth confers honor; it is an invidious distinction.

The superior gratification derived from the use and contemplation of costly and supposedly beautiful products is, commonly, in great measure a gratification of our sense of costliness masquerading under the name of beauty.

The thief or swindler who has gained great wealth by his delinquency has a better chance than the small thief of escaping the rigorous penalty of the law.

While the proximate ground of discrimination may be of another kind, still the pervading principle and abiding test of good breeding is the requirement of a substantial and patent waste of time.

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(July 30 is also the birthday of Casey Stengel and Henry Ford.)


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