Economics

It's practically impossible for a serious writer [in America] to set fixed prices on his work, because magazines pay such varying rates. So I've hit upon its principle: "From each according to his means," which is to say that if the periodical can pay, I'd like as much as everyone else. If they can't, I can usually be conned into taking nothing more than a few contributor's copies. I estimate that most of my magazine publishing has been gratis--especially of my creative work. Even when I get paid, the money is rarely worth the time and effort--by standards of the U.S. minimum wage; and my anthologies have not been profitable either. The real rewards and pleasures--and even the vanities--of serious writing have little, if anything, to do with money.

The New Poetries and Some Olds (1989)

If you let a “professional” put his hand in your pocket, you can't complain if you're goosed. It is the ultimate aim of rapacious capitalism to produce customers who don't object to being fleeced.

Skeptical Essays (2010)

International capitalism depends upon the expectation that millions of people around the world behave with a certain level of financial intelligence and personal integrity. And indeed they largely do. The current truth, nonetheless, is that the edifice must be fragile, as a remarkably small percentage of these millions initiated the egregious credit mess that in 2008 brought down home lenders, rating agencies, banks, and others whose behavior we can now judge dangerously stupid. My suspicion is that most of them knew they were doing something dangerous but covered their butts, much as other bureaucratic miscreants do, by citing what their competitors were successfully doing. As always, everywhere, those refusing to follow the herd, in this case more cautious lenders, look heroic. As indeed they are.

“The Fragility of Capitalism” (2010)

"Failure is not an option," some publicists proclaim. However, this slogan is more dangerous that is commonly noticed. Every attempt by any authority to eliminate human failure, whether in marriage, economics, or anything else problematic, causes unacceptable results. Changing the ground rules of free commerce and relationships is risky business.

Skeptical Essays (2010)