Optimistic for a more humane economy

September 20, 2009

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KUDOS TO Stephen Mihm for drawing attention to the ideas of Hyman Minsky (“Why capitalism fails,’’ Ideas, Sept. 13). But the Minsky I knew for more than a decade was more optimistic - and ambitious - than Mihm suggests.

Minsky believed a more successful brand of capitalism is within reach. Getting there means taking a system controlled by money managers and reforming it to address the concerns of America’s working families: not easy, but not impossible. Besides, we have little option; not doing so would mean widespread and rising economic insecurity, he correctly predicted.

Today, the practical guidance offered by Minsky is not embodied in a “Big Bank’’ or “Big Government,’’ but in the White House Middle Class Task Force. In fact, its aims, which include improving access to health care, strengthening retirement security, and tackling other issues that affect working families, were anticipated in an article Minsky and I co-authored shortly before his death. Minsky’s buoyant vision was unwavering: a more humane economy.

Charles J. Whalen
Utica, N.Y.
The writer is a professor of economics at Utica College and a visiting fellow at Cornell University.

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