Kelso: Nut or Newton?
November 5, 2005 1:12 AM   Subscribe

Louis Kelso: Crackpot or economic genius?

A friend of mine was telling me about the economic theories of Louis Kelso. I don't really understand them. I'm not very well versed in economics but I have a basic grasp of the fundamentals, enough to subscribe to The Economist and puzzle out the most economics-heavy articles, but my knowledge doesn't run very deep.

Kelso's theories make my head spin. Is that because they're too advanced for me or because they're crackpot ideas? I'm not only interested in an explication of his ideas but also as to what today's economists think of his work.
posted by Kattullus to Work & Money (6 answers total)
I assume your talking about Binary Economics and his vaguely communist spin on capitalism?

I've not read a huge amount about Kelso, but from what I do know he doesn't seem to say much that most succesful companies have ever not acted on. At least companies in the last 50-100 years, especially in America.

He's probably not a complete nut though.
posted by alexst at 7:40 AM on November 5, 2005

but from what I do know he doesn't seem to say much that most succesful companies have ever not acted on

alexst, could you parse that please?
posted by bricoleur at 11:37 AM on November 5, 2005

S (S but
      (PP from
          (NP (SBAR (WHNP what)
                    (S (NP I)
                       (VP do
                           (VP know))))))
      (S (NP he)
         (VP doesn't
             (VP seem
                 (S (VP to
                        (VP say
                            (ADVP much)
                            (SBAR that
                                  (S (NP (ADJP (ADVP most)
                                     (VP have
                                         (ADVP ever)
                                         (VP acted)))))))))))

posted by andrew cooke at 11:41 AM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much andrew. So, what did he say?
posted by bricoleur at 11:45 AM on November 5, 2005

*sigh* (at andrew)

What I meant was that his ideas seem to of been, and still are, at least already being acted out if not common for a pretty long time before he went and started writing about it.

I could be totally wrong on that though. Basically i'm saying that whilst he might be right he's probably not that influential.

Personally I quite agree with a lot he has to say, I am not sure about his attitude on the reallocation of capital to reduce the rich/poor divide and increase overall productivity, although I can't immediately think of a reason not to.

I guess that make him a genius :)
posted by alexst at 12:28 PM on November 5, 2005

Thanks, alexst. I think that may not be quite true. Cf. this page, for instance: "Louis O. Kelso is justly recognized by most ESOP [Employee Stock Ownership Program] professionals as the visionary who developed the first ESOPs, and who worked with Senator Russell Long to get them written into Federal law in 1974."

Disclaimer: I'm not an economist and I'm not familiar with Kelso. I have a passing familiarity with the distributism (often called distributivism) of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, the philosophical basis of which seems to be shared by Kelso's work.

From what I have just gathered from a quick Google/Wikipedia scan, it would seem that Kelso's own work might more fairly be characterized as political, or even philosophical, than economic, in that he is proposing what he takes to be a more equitable and civilized legal framework for economic activity than the one that currently obtains in most developed countries. He does not, so far as my quick scan reveals, propose any descriptive theory of economics. Upshot: Whether you think he's a genius or a crackpot may depend largely on your own political/philosophical views.

It seems clear (from the little I read) that Kelso's work owes much to the distributists. In particular, his paradoxical concern about creeping socialism seems to echo that voiced by Belloc in The Servile State.
posted by bricoleur at 1:26 PM on November 5, 2005

« Older Can someone tell me the name of this TV movie?   |   What was the audience's reaction to the movie The... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.