By Jim Stanford
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Additional info for Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism
And within capitalist economies, 33 Stanford 01 intro 33 9/4/08 18:04:08 34 Economics for Everyone there are important non-capitalist parts (although most capitalist economies are becoming more capitalist as time goes by). I think it’s a pretty safe bet that human beings will eventually find other, better ways to organize work in the future – maybe sooner, maybe later. It’s almost inconceivable that the major features of what we call “capitalism” will exist for the rest of human history (unless, of course, we drive ourselves to extinction in the near future through war, pollution, or other self-inflicted injuries).
Neoclassical economists even describe the relationship between a large company and its workers as a form of market exchange. Everyone comes to the “market” with something to sell, and in theory they’re all better off (than they were in the first place) as a result of trading in that marketplace. Stanford 01 intro 36 9/4/08 18:04:08 Capitalism 37 Imagine a bustling bazaar, to represent the whole economy. In one corner of the hall is General Electric, which brings US$500 billion worth of capital assets to the market.
First, it allowed for permanent settlements (with the opportunity to build better homes and other structures). Second, the greater productivity of agriculture allowed society to generate an economic SURPLUS: production beyond what was required just to keep the producers alive. Third, with that surplus came the task of deciding how to use it. The existence of a surplus allowed some members of society, for the first time, not to work. This opened up a whole new can of worms. Who would avoid working on the farm?