Monday, May 2, 2011

Artists' Capitalist Savings

Mises argues that there are

two classes of saving: plain saving and capitalist saving. Plain saving is merely the piling up of consumers' goods for later consumption. Capitalist saving is the accumulation of goods which are designed for an improvement of production processes. The aim of plain saving is later consumption; it is merely postponement of consumption. Sooner or later the goods accumulated will be consumed and nothing will be left. The aim of capitalist saving is first an improvement in the productivity of effort. It accumulates captial goods which are employed for further production and are not merely reserves for later consumption. (Human Action, 530)

Consider the situation of the artist. Being a great artist is a full time job; if it only at best your part time job, you can only accomplish so much. It can certainly be your first job, while the job that pays the bills is your second full time job. In order to do one's artistic work, one has to accumulate capitalist savings. Look at how Mises defines capitalist savings. Clearly the artist has to accumulate savings which improve his production processes, to improve the productivity of his effort. It's not about consumption, but production. To do artistic work, the artist has to accumulate capital. How does the artist do that? What does that capital consist of? These are questions one could and should investigate. Naturally, there will be differences for different arts. Even within literature, there are differences between what the poet and the playwright need. Wallace Stevens could be the Vice President of a bank and still be one of the greatest poets of the English language. Could he have been a playwright with that job, though?

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