Monday, February 6, 2012

Jews Don't Make Anything, So Create No Value?

EE fan (and author of SMBC!) Zach Weiner sends this snippet, for our consideration:

"The Jews were unpopular, partly because of this narrowness already noted in the Roman world, partly perhaps because they had already fallen into that habit of merely handling things for exchange instead of working to make them with their hands." Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man" chapter 4.

Okay, let's ignore the stupid anti-Semitism. Evil, common, but not very creative or interesting.

Let's ignore the fact that even the factual premise is absurd: many Jews were in fact artisans, very skilled artisans, because human capital (jewelry maker, blacksmith, carpenter) was portable. The reason is that you could never tell if some jack-leg king-o-the-month needed a scapegoat and decided it was time for a random Jew-fry, and the people had to skedaddle. This part is just dumb, and wrong: Jews have been brilliant at making things with their hands, for 3,000 years.

The interesting thing about this quote is that it more or less takes it for granted that anyone who just "handles things for exchange" is not creating any value. The Mancgere, then, could be an honorary Jew, in terms of the opprobrium and scorn focused on someone who just trades but does not produce.

Thanks, Zach. Well quoted. I had not seen that one.

1 comment:

  1. Did you see this one from Landsburg?

    Urban dwellers are far more mobile than farmers.


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?