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Quotation of the Day…

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… is one that Deirdre McCloskey [2] surely applauds; it’s from pages 61-62 of the late Stanley Lebergott’s superb 1984 volume, The Americans: An Economic Record [3]; Lebergott is here writing specifically about the period 1783-1860 in the United States:

But once such central “economic” contributions to growth [such as people’s savings] are recognized we must turn to the contribution made by the values of the people themselves.  These values drove the “productivity” gains, for they prompted the American willingness to accept persistent novelty in production.  Without such willingness Americans would never have put up with the costs of growth – job turnover, migration, high depreciation of machinery, destruction of business investments, and the harsh obsolescence of human skills and training.

Visitors to the United States have long remarked how unusually willing Americans were to accept novelty in the economic process….  Such open mindedness brought a near endless series of innovations which persistently drove up the nation’s productivity.

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