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Jim Peach, 2018 Veblen-Commons Award Recipient

Jim Peach (2018)

Abstract - Habits of thought and the Process of Economic Development:

Remarks on Receiving the Veblen Commons Award

Thorstein Veblen and John R. Commons explained a great deal about the dynamic process we now refer to as economic development.  Nearly all of the recipients of the Veblen-Commons Award addressed the economic development problem at one time or another, even when they were discussing theoretical or philosophical issues related to the core of institutional and evolutionary economics.  Given this long-standing tradition, the temptation to indulge in further discussion of economic development is too strong to ignore.

Among the many insightful contributions of Veblen and Commons is that habits of thought matter.  Habits of thought condition policy and place limits on what is possible.  This paper confronts five habits of thought that inhibit the process of economic development.  These include: (1) the confusion of economic development with economic growth (2) the crowding out hypothesis, (3) the concept of the steady state economy, (4) the peak oil hypothesis, and (5) the inevitability of economic progress.  It will be argued that all five of these habits of thought are genuine obstacles to development.  None of the discussion in this paper is intended to minimize the importance of other very real constraints to the development process.  A few of these other constraints include war, racism, sexism, political instability, corruption, and climate change.    

Department of Economics

New Mexico State University

PO Box 30001/MSC 3CQ

Las Cruces, NM 88003

Phone: 575-646-3113

Email: jpeach@nmsu.edu