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View Diary: Exposing Reagan’s Big Lie (201 comments)

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  •  Impoverished majority? (0+ / 0-)

    " Smith attacked the common eighteenth-century practice of using political power to redistribute wealth from the farmers to the merchants.  This practice left the vast majority of the population impoverished while enriching a chosen few."

    Um, wasn't the vast majority already impoverished?

    BTW, Smith also discussed what would be named the business cycle—he was under no illusion that free markets were a one-way trip to prosperity.

    •  Smith believed that poverty was unnatural (0+ / 0-)

      So, yes the vast majority of people were already impoverished for a very long time.  Politicians had been redistributing wealth from the bottom to the top for a very long time.  The path to prosperity required the elimination of economic privileges.  It was necessary but but not sufficient.  Not until the late 19th did a fully developed positive role for government develop.

      •  Smith's nature (0+ / 0-)

        While it's true that Smith uses the term "natural" to refer to certain operations of the market and to things like a natural price, I believe that you would have a hard time stating Smith's definition of nature in these contexts.

        Not the least of these difficulties is that while Smith identifies the origin of society in nature, he clearly does not believe actual societies or markets are themselves natural. Even more to the point, he does not hold that the natural is identical to the moral—a moral society comes into being through choice. Opulence may be according to nature; poverty may well result from interference in the free workings of the market, but I think that to call it "unnatural" goes beyond Smith's meaning.

        •  To Quote, George Bernard Shaw (0+ / 0-)

          "Two peoples separated by a common language."

          I have no problem with your words of caution, but here is my understanding.  

          There are two types of poverty.  One is experienced in a state of nature, when each man must secure his property against the greed of every other man.    The other is a social construct when a privilege few use political power to manipulate the market place for their own private benefit at the expense of the Wealth of the Nation.  

          "Since the downfal of the Roman empire, the policy of Europe has been more favourable to arts, manufactures, and commerce, the industry of towns; than to agriculture, the industry of the country."

          That "favoritism" was unnatural, or unreasonable.  The wide spread suffering in Eighteenth Century agriculture was a direct result of this favoritism.

        •  Here is Smith (0+ / 0-)

          "What-ever regulations, therefore, tend to increase those wages and profits beyond what they otherwise would be, tend to enable the town to purchase, with a smaller quantity of its labour, the produce of a greater quantity of the labour of the country. They give the traders and artificers in the town an advantage over the landlords, farmers, and labourers in the country, and break down that natural equality which would otherwise take place in the commerce which is carried on between them." I.10.74

        •  Source of rural poverty (0+ / 0-)

          "In China and Indostan accordingly both the rank and the wages of country labourers are said to be superior to those of the greater part of artificers and manufacturers. They would probably be so every-where, if corporation laws and the corporation spirit did not prevent it."

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