Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rentier Politics

The rentier class, in economics, is that group which collects income from rent, from owning things.  One can easily imagine feudal, aristocratic landlords who did nothing to earn the land, but profit from their heredity.

Increasingly it is considered acceptable in economics to refer to rentier economies.  Oil extraction, for instance, involves vast sums but very few employees.  Governments survive not because of their own productivity, or that of their citizens, but because of rent.

John Ghazvanian, in Untapped, say economists Hazem Beblawi and Giacomo Luciani point to a mentality among the citizens of a rentier state emerge, that they see wealth as accident rather than the result of hard work.

Looking at the American political scene, I have to say that we must live on some sort of rentier political landscape.  I feel it is accident, more than hard work, which brought a great number of federally elected officials to power, the majority, even, Democrats and Republicans. 

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