Michael delves into the history of debt and its role in our ever-changing economic structure. He references classical economists like Smith, Mills, Ricardo, and Marx, with their concept of economic rent as unearned income. They believed that industrial capitalism would eliminate the entire legacy of feudalism and dissolve the landlord class by taxing away rent or nationalizing the land. Since most governments were subsidizing education and health care, it seemed counterproductive to allow privatization of health, education, or land rent monopolies. They also saw ‘credit’ as a public utility, expecting banks to lend for socially worthwhile and productive purposes. Ultimately, instead of banking being industrialized, industry was financialized.
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