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Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of April 26, 2010

Readers write in about business values.

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On the right business values

Regarding the opinion essay "A 17th-century solution to America's economic woes" (April 12):

Kenneth and William Hopper suggest that to understand our current recession we should look beyond recent developments to long-term historical trends, especially to the rise of Puritanism and its emphasis on craftsmanship and willingness to "get one's hands dirty."

The writers state that our current problems have been caused by the perversion of this, represented by the rise of the " 'professional manager,' often with an MBA degree."

But the Puritan connection could be significantly more complex and interesting.

In his book "Cousins' Wars," Kevin Phillips explains how the rise of Puritanism has involved three wars: the English Civil War, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War – all of which have involved the struggles between two groups and two modes of thought "bottom-up" versus "top-down" – i.e., entrepreneurial versus autocratic: the Puritans versus the Royalists.

This long-term continuing struggle is different than the Hoppers's contention that our current economic woes have been caused by a sudden perversion of Puritan values.


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