Oakes

Social Capital

78 posts in this topic

Still, it should not be called human capital. Capital is wealth--alienable material goods used by business firms for making money. I see no valid reason why it should be extended to include human knowledge, skills and experience. If indeed paying for education and such is a form of "investment", then one would have to think of wages as sales revenue and deduct educational costs and such from it. Workers and wages earners would then earn 'profits' on their wages and salaries.

You may be right that it should not be called human capital (I never said that it should be). Maybe it should be called human productivity resources or mental assets or schnarf. But, I don’t think you have given a very persuasive argument of why it should not be called human capital.

The core of your argument it seems, is that human capital should not be called such because capital was originally referred (or usually refers) to physical things. However, there are many nouns that can be used in both tangible and intangible contexts. There a fairly related group of words like: bond; connection; attachment; break; rift. Niche is another one. Miss Rand used the word motor in both contexts many times in Atlas Shrugged.

In addition, capital is used up to generate income. That is not true of an education. You can depreciate a machine, but not a PhD.

Good point. But I’m not so sure that human capital can’t depreciate. For instance, say I lean the art of blacksmithing then the economy industrializes. The value the productive capabilities, (blacksmithing skills) I had attained would drop. Actually better examples would be more modern professions like computer programmers or researchers. The point is that I think the value of human capital can depreciate and if you don’t continue to invest, your human capital stock will go down (although it might be very slow in some cases).

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I read this thread for the first time yesterday, and later that evening I came across this quote from Neitche:

"One has to repay good and ill--but why precisely to the person who has done us good or ill?" [Beyond Good and Evil pg. 91 verse(?) 159 trans. Walter Kaufmann]

I don't know if I'm understanding it entirely correctly, but there seems to be a common premise behind this quote and the mutual-credits concept. Egalitarianism?

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I mean, a common premise assuming you accept the question posed by Nietche as advocating one should not make the distinction, but he wasn't necessarily advocating that. (That doesn't change my point, but I don't like misrepresenting a philosopher, even one who tries so hard to be misunderstood!)

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