Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
My relationship to Veblen?  Oh my! What a question!!

The recession of 1981-82 directly hurt me and many of my friends.  In fact, it could be argued that many have never recovered.  What was so scary about this recession was not merely its seriousness, but the fact that no one I knew had any mechanism for explaining it.  So I started to read seriously.  Eventually I would read most of the name political economists.  The one I knew best--Keynes--was the guy whose theories had been discarded by Volker and the Reaganauts.  The one I had never heard of--Veblen--came highly recommended by JK Galbraith.

For page after page, book after book, Veblen's writings read like an instruction manual for how the American industrial system worked or did not work.  It was literally breath-taking.  My research branched out into other writers who had seen America built.  It wasn't long until I had read over 1000 serious books and felt the need to construct an anti-Reaganaut "manifesto."  By 1987, it was mostly done so I sent copies to folks I thought had a chance to understand it.  One went to a local professor I trusted named Paul Wellstone.  Another went to a really smart Finnish guy I met in high school.  I expected both would write a few comments and return the manuscript.  Wellstone did just that.  The fellow from Finland "misunderstood" the assignment and instead found it a publisher.  It was published in 1989 under the title "Tuottajat ja Saalistajat: Johdatus ekoteolliseen ratkaisuun."

By 1991, I found myself living 15 miles (25 km) from the Veblen house in Minnesota.  It was in disastrous shape so I began to agitate for its restoration.  An "angel" appeared by the name of William C. Melton who not only had the cash for such a project but understood Veblen's importance because he was the son of a noted Veblen scholar from the University of Texas.  Relieved, I returned to taking regular pictures of the restoration and trying to find an American publisher for my neo-Veblenian manifesto.

The one I found was also the president of the Association For Evolutionary Economists (AFEE)--an organization dedicated to promoting heterodox economic thinking like Veblen's.  His name was John Adams and had also graduated from that "notorious" school in Texas that had given us C. Wright Mills, Bill Melton, and Rick Tilman--Veblen's most diligent scholar.  By now my book was called "Elegant Technology" and was introduced to the world at the 1993 convention of the American Economics Association in Anaheim.  My speech to them can be found here.

These days I try to keep an arms-length distance from the academics who debate the minutia of Veblen's life but otherwise am willing to give tours of the restored farm to nearly anyone who asks.  Because of my role in the restoration of the farmhouse, I have much better relationship with the Veblen family.  I did a .PDF of the restoration for the 1995 family reunion which is still the most popular download from my website.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Sun Mar 18th, 2007 at 09:54:48 AM EST
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