Energy And The Rise And Fall Of Political Economy / Edition 1

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Overview

The First and Second Industrial Revolutions were about energy: steam power revolutionized 19th-century Great Britain and electric power revolutionized 20th-century America. Yet political economy, the science of wealth born of the First Industrial Revolution, is devoid of energy, focusing instead on machinery or capital. According to basic mechanics, tools per se are not productive, as they are not source of energy. This book uses basic mechanics and thermodynamics to reexamine the rise of political economy as the science of wealth in the 19th and 20th centuries. The study shows that the failure of generations of political economists to formally incorporate energy into their models of production and distribution has led to the unfortunate state in which economics currently finds itself. With the inclusion of energy, important insights result. For instance, the Solow Residual in both 19th-century Great Britain and 20th-century America disappears.

Unlike previous critiques of political economy, this analysis is constructive in nature, using past shortcomings and oversights as a springboard to a more consistent model of economic activity, especially production. The book is the first of its kind to use basic physics and thermodynamics as a guide to the First and Second Industrial Revolutions, and more importantly, to show how political economists from Smith to Fisher have attempted to understand these two energy-based Industrial Revolutions.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Agreeing that the rise of complex machinery and tools in the late 18th century helped germinate political economy as an intellectual endeavor in the early 19th, Beaudraeu (economics. U. Laval, Quebec) says the equation is missing the important factor of energy. He describes how the substitution of first steam and later electricity for human and animal muscle as a power source dramatically increased overall energy consumption and labor productivity as conventionally defined. This, he argues, underlies the interest of moral philosophers in issues of wealth creation Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

BERNARD C. BEAUDREAU is Associate Professor of Economics at Universite Laval in Quebec.

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Table of Contents

Tables and Figures
Preface
Introduction 1
1 Analytical Framework 7
2 Steam Power and Political Economy 37
3 Electric Power and Early Twentieth-Century Political Economy 91
4 Boom and Bust: Energy-Deepening in the Post-World War II Period 133
5 Growth without Growth: The Post-Energy Crisis Period 157
Conclusions 177
App. 1 A Treatise on Energy and Price Theory 181
App. 2 A Treatise on Energy and Money 193
Bibliography 205
Index 215
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