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Joseph Schumpeter bio and the ‘inspiring’ WSJ

Richard Abrams, professor emeritus of history | December 11, 2009

The most memorable book I read this past year was Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction, Tom McCraw’s biography of the great economist, Joseph Schumpeter, who is probably most known for his classic, “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.”  Not only was Schumpeter one of the “greats” among economists historically, he also was an extraordinary individual — a womanizer, a bigamist, a chronic depressive, and a poseur, as well as a workaholic, a showman, and a  revered teacher.  McCraw, probably the country’s leading business historian (now emeritus at Harvard), had access to S’s voluminous personal diaries and letters. So armed, he presents a fluid narrative adding to a concise lesson in the history of economic thought and business development world wide for much of the 20th century.  Although among the many emigres from central Europe who tirelessly promoted the myth of the Free Market (e.g., Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises) and who settled in Chicago to produce offspring such as Milton Friedman, Schumpeter (who settled at Columbia) was no rigid free marketeer.  Whatever your political or economic views, you will likely both enjoy and benefit from McCraw’s biography.

But probably the most “inspiring” reading I have done, and which I heartily recommend, has been in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.  Yes, the editorials and op eds are almost uniformly breathtakingly reactionary and partisan, esp. since Murdoch took over the paper.  And most of the lead articles increasingly slant in favor of the big corporations and the Republican party and their venal leaders.  Still, you will find no better coverage (and exposure) of the thievery, corruption, incompetence, and all-around self-righteous chutzpah that has typified the behavior of our business leaders at home and abroad.  Sometimes you have to read between the lines, but the info is there however mildly camouflaged and distracted by misleading article-heads (written by editors, not by the reporters).  Its coverage extends far beyond the business world to domestic and foreign politics, the arts, sports, and all things international.  It even has a first-rate crossword puzzle on Fridays.  All in all, the paper still has the best staff of investigative reporters in the country, maybe in the world.  It makes the NYTimes appear like a naive baby brother.  For “inspirational reading,” I do recommend the WSJ.

Comments to “Joseph Schumpeter bio and the ‘inspiring’ WSJ

  1. Thanks for this post, was a great read. I read the biography and it was a great read. I would highly recommend it.

  2. For some time after his death, Schumpeter’s views were most influential among various heterodox economists, especially European, who were interested in industrial organization, evolutionary theory, and economic development,

  3. The term “investigative journalists” has been new for me and I’m interested to learn more about them. Thank you for sharing this article.

  4. I also love reading inspirational books by Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn and Harv Eker. All of them are very motivating and inspiring.

  5. The biography of J Schumpeter sounds like a good read. Regarding your mention of WSJ, I’ll indeed have to check it out. And it’s encouraging to know that the reporting is still hard-hitting and penetrating.

  6. Mike:
    Well Mike travel around the world some,talk to taxi cab drivers ask them who their people hate the most,Number one they hate us,Americans,#2 Germans,#3 Australians. Sadly the world is still Colonial. The Tea Party rails against entitlements,they would do away with unemployment,and lower the minimum wage. The affluence you describe is class War fair. Why aren’t the poor demanding reform,if thats what you mean, their to busy being crushed by the haves, and the load of daily survival.America has 4000,000 homeless,that just about the number of soldiers standing at arms in our military.

  7. Great post. If you recommend to read wall street journal I’ll try to read them especially now I don’t work because i am pregnant. One thing I good book to read also which is related to wall street journal is Warren Buffet. You will be inspired to that book.

  8. ‘You will find no better coverage and exposure of the thievery, corruption, incompetence, and all-around self-righteous chutzpah that has typified the behavior of our business leaders at home and abroad.’ Those words are the perfect reflection of what I think about Wall Street. They can indeed use alluring and cloaking words which can trick the naive readers, as you must read in between the lines in order to get the true meaning of the articles and editorials.
    James Locke

  9. I also like to read some inspiration books from Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn and Harv Eker. They are all very motivational and inspirational.

  10. If there are such great reads, then this must be one of it. Politics and history are such interesting subjects. It is so interesting that politicians are continually on the lookout as to what investigative journalists are likely to write.

  11. WSJ has been indeed a good reading material for those who wants to be kept updated with politics, economy, social issues and most especially the government. You may also visit the website for if you prefer an online reading.

  12. The term ‘investigative journalists’ is new to me and it interests me to learn more about them. Thank you for sharing this article.

  13. WSJ articles are edited in such a way that it does not directly put the information but hides it with misleading article-heads created by the editors and it covers not only the business world but also to the domestic and foreign politics and any other things international.

    For me, it is good to edit articles in such a way that their effects does not show strong bias and they appear neutral. Also, it is good to go beyond the common topic and extend towards international or broader ones.

  14. Investigative journalists are a dying breed, in my humble opinion, if they are to be read in the Wall Street Journal, then I must investigate further, as a Brit, I am denied any quality journalism as a rule but am always on the look out for a good read, I shall heed your advice.

  15. I highly recommend both Creative Destruction and Prophet of Innovation. A must READ!


  16. Hmm, I didn’t hear anything about it yet but when I read your article I have to say that it seems to be worth reading. Very nice article. Thank you ver much.

  17. The WSJ maybe far ahead of the NYT but they are still subject to the AP and what they can or are allowed to print. It has been known for 70 years or so that the press does not report anything the powers to be will not allow and has been documented as such. If want to know what is going on in this nation you have to for foreign to get the true scoop. Talk about freedom of the press, there is none in the land of the slave and home of the knave.

  18. I’ve to tell you this: Prophet of Innovation, in a sense, altered my outlook towards life. Joseph Schumpeter is a legend who hardly got the popularity he deserved. Majority knows Schumpeter only as an outstanding economist. Tom McCraw shed light into Schumpeter’s inidividual life too. Your post has succeeded in conveying the essence of the biography. Great.

    Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney

    • WHAT?!!! Wall Street Journal is an interesting read? May be if you’re in the Stock Market or financial sector !!

      OK, I’m going to take your word on that and try to find a place where I can read it. Can you read it online? Anybody?

      • Yes you can access it online. It’s wsj dot com. you can subscribe to it online. In fact I saw a 2 week free subscription in there. That probably means that it’s not free 🙁

  19. Rich Abrams has it exactly right about the high and lows of the WSJ, it is a national wonder. At the beginning of this month the Federal Trade Commission held a workshop on the economic upheaval in the press. CEO Murdoch spoke, along with WSJ editor-in-chief Robert Thomson. They swaggered in a room of worried journalists and economists. Transcripts: with videos on many blogs.

    Arianna Huffington followed the head of News Corp. that morning and had him for breakfast. I sat six feet from Mr. Murdoch as he spoke and can report that, at age 78, he is fit and keen to give us many more years of the lows and highs we get from news media.

  20. I agree with you about the Wall Street Journal. I started getting it to see what the Neanderthals were up to. I’ve been quite surprised by the excellent journalism.

    You might want to look at this website for a compendium of the best articles on the current financial situation (the real statistics, extent of corruption, depth of depression, etc).

    There are too many historical books about bad behavior on Wall Street to list, i.e. “The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power” by Joel Bakan, “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” by Edwin Lefevre, “Liar’s Poker” by Michael Lewis, “The Rich and the Super Rich” by Ferdinand Lundberg, etc. I don’t see the corruption ever ending given how fraudulent the financial industry has always been.

    What I don’t understand is why people aren’t marching in the streets and demanding meaningful reform? And not just reform of the financial industry, but the insurance industry, the health care industry (10-25% of money spent is lost to fraud), the agricultural industry (which is destroying topsoil at a rate faster than any previous civilization), and above all, campaign finance reform to make it possible for all the other reform needed.

    • Striking what it takes to be great and/or successful in america/markets/media/modern life, no? Also a true man about the planet and teacher. Teaching by example, what exactly?

      Mr. Abrams says of Schumpeter: “greats” among economists historically, he also was an extraordinary individual — a womanizer, a bigamist, a chronic depressive, and a poseur, as well as a workaholic, a showman, and a revered teacher.

      And fraud surprises us now, really? I agree though, the WSJ chronicles the sad state of affairs today very well indeed!

    • Why aren’t they demanding reform? Life has been made all too comfortable for the civilized world, and as long as we have our affluence we could give a damn about anything else. And when we don’t? Well the system seems to be designed so that those without cannot effect meaningful change.

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