By Atypical Academic
Economics 101. If those two words fill you with dread, you’re certainly justified. Most, if not all, say that an economy is a vital aspect of a society, but no one agrees on the definition, or which of the multiple versions currently existing to implement . Producing a new version is thrown around, and is likely the best bet. At the moment, there is long time veteran contender with lots of followers, willing or not. This options name:Capitalism. Let’s explore it’s adopted playbook, The Wealth of Nations.
Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith (Capitalism)
Let’s start out with the role of money/economy in politics:
1 Adam Smith says that monopolies use their power to influence the government to thwart workers and other companies: I believe there are laws against monopolies, at least here in the US, but some companies are so large that they nearly are, and/or the sector of the economy they are a part of can be a large chunk of the overall economy, so something representing them can have lots of say.
2 908 “making the administration of justice subservient to the purposes of revenue could scarce fail to be productive of several very gross abuses” : many politicians don’t listen (although many say what the “common” people want to hear) too what the “common” people need/want, only to who got them elected, the lobbyists.
3 1029 “A leaders dignity should match that of their nation”: Although most “western” nations are overall wealthy, their wealth isn’t distributed very equally, so the “dignity” of most of their nation is much less. There are politicians for instance whose medical “problems” consist of getting Botox to fight a wrinkle and have multiple homes, while a homeless person has frostbite and is lucky to find an intact enough cardboard box to shelter under.
4 537 Smith says that the government has three economic goals: enough resources for the population, the chance for everyone to access those resources, and resources for public services. The U.S. apparently has lots of resources to spare, but a lot is either wasted (look at the dumpster of a restaurant or grocery store for starters) and or doesn’t get this to those that need it. As for public services, I’d suppose we have a decent enough time there, although there were instances such as the national parks being closed, and our infrastructure is supposedly falling apart. How about lay off a fighter jet or two and take care of problems inside the country.
A slice or two about violence:
1 1017 “parties enthusiastically attack established authority” People must have been more active back in the 1700’s when this book came out, although there are still people fighting, albeit nowadays they are more likely to complain via a march or blog (although print and protests were used back then as well), aka something more peaceful. This could be due to the next line
2 887 “As society advances, the people become more unwarlike”. Conflicts of late have been either solved, or at least initially attempted to be solved, by a more diplomatic and/or economic approach. However, being more advanced also creates more things to bicker over, and when the wars do happen, they are much more destructive due to the increased technological level of the weapons.
Some lines about money /society/the economy overall
1 44/47 “labor is the real purchasing power, money is a symbol”: I’ve mentioned already that money was a symbol, and using the real power(labor), might be similar to what I was saying when the carpenter and I would get our food and barn no matter what. I suppose that having the symbol may create more trust that this person is actually working, but the amount they receive for their labor may not be a true representation, and they could have gotten it from other means, such as stealing or the lottery.
2 224 “the poor survive by appealing to the rich by being as efficient and cheap as possible.” If they’re so efficient, shouldn’t their good work pay them more? I suppose they’re so relieved at having some sort of likely crummy position that they don’t care what the compensation is, and try to look as good as possible in order to stick around.
3 339 “it comes from an order of men, whose interests is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.” This was linked to controlling the market, although the quote is certainly fit to describe control in any format. Those in charge look after only themselves and their cronies, and sometimes not even their cronies.
4 423 “The labor of some of the most respectable orders in society is like that of menial servants, unproductive of any value, and does not fix or realize itself in any permanent subject, or vendible commodity, which endures after that labor is past, and for which an equal quantity of labor could afterwards be procured.”: An example: Bankers, politicians, and others may be looked up to/considered higher class, but when they work, they’re only debating and/or creating ideas/symbols, as opposed to say a blacksmith, which creates an actual “solid” object.
5 851 “it is never in the interest of the unproductive class to oppress the other two” None the less, they most defiantly do. I suppose that by oppressing the other classes, they may be indirectly harming themselves, since they rely on the others to empower them, like a parasitic leech, and if their power source is lessened, they may lose some, and/or the other classes may get tired of being pushed around and fight back (apparently hasn’t happened yet, at least all that effectively). They may also oppress because “power corrupts”, and they feel that lashing out is the best way to hold onto this illusion, or perhaps they’re just buttholes from the start (personality). This also bring up another question- Are there any nice/good people in positions of power? Nominate them if you can.
6 539: “the great affair, we always find, is to get money” Like I initially said, a big deal is made of it and most are forced to chase after it.
7 551 “Money is the known and established instrument of commerce, for which everything is readily given in exchange, but which is not always with equal readiness to be got in exchange for everything.” This seems to say that although everything is (allegedly) tradable for money, not everybody wants to trade their item for money. This could be since you could have all the money ever, but if the item/s are unobtainable, you effectively don’t have anything. .
8 717 “what encourages the progress of population and improvement encourages that of real wealth and greatness” : I would say that the wealth and greatness would be improvements, and that progress and improvement are similar, so a bit wordy here in my opinion. Otherwise, seems true, although wealth can imply something more than finances.
9 814 “the evils come from the system, not from the character of the men who administer it”: Than what’s quote from 339 about? Also, I would say that they affect each other. None the less, there’s now bad people running a bad system.
10 1044 “a lot of inequality is better than a little uncertainty” This may be a reason that so little action has been taken addressing the money issue. If something is a certainty, chances are it will be the same no matter what, and if something’s are the same, how are they not equal? Thereby, inequality and uncertainty are the same thing, and the original statement doesn’t work. If you don’t want to use this approach, the blatantly obvious inequality does lead to uncertainty, such as when am I going to get this illness looked at, eat again, change my clothes, … and how is this a better situation?
Some have said that communism is equally shared poverty, and capitalism is unequally shared wealth(meaning there will still be people in poverty). Both will off everyone involved though. How communism has worked is that most folks are grouped together, and it takes out big chunks of the average person/masses at a time in some huge slaughter, and then the leaders start taking each other out. It’s more of an acute/sudden illness or condition, like stroke or heart attack. In capitalism, competition is encouraged, so all the sides usually don’t have the chance to 100% annihilate each other, and take each other apart piecemeal, making it more of a lingering, chronic illness, like Lou Gehrig Disease.
A problem with capitalism at least is that it promotes competition, but humans are allegedly social creatures. Being social, at least to me, just means that we interact a lot with each other, not that those interactions are always friendly, but being nice isn’t usually a bad thing, and is likely preferred. However, you can be too nice, which lets others take advantage of you openly or secretly. Working together, along with our increased intelligence, is what supposedly allowed us to progress to where we are today, versus other species, and will likely play a role in future development as well. There seems to be a claim that people need competition as a motivator in order to improve. By competing, if one gains, another or more may stay were they’re at, or even slide backwards, which is certainly not improving them. Furthermore, I stated earlier that science is driven by curiosity. In addition, folks may undertake something since they like doing it, and by continuing to do said action by the drive the resulting joy produces, they will get better at it, such as if they take up an instrument or a version of art, such as painting or drawing. You could say that they are competing against themselves, to see how fast/far they can progress in this undertaking though.
On this note, this claim went on to say that without competition, people would even become gloomy. I do suppose that some people who have a more aggressive/competitive personality may get bored or upset, but it would be a load of relief for the rest. Tying in with this, a lot of the competition is “keeping up with the Jone’s”, which means having more and/or nicer material things. That fancy car may make your life more enjoyable and/or easier, but that doesn’t mean your life is truly improved. Furthermore, if that fancy car got damaged, you would likely be more upset over it than if you had a more modest car, and especially if you went from junker to junker.
There’s the concept of classes, usually based on income level. There’s the homeless and other like them, which are in bad shape, and can possibly even not be counted as part of the system, as this system only “cares” for you if you have money. Those on welfare/government assistance have all of, or at least a good chunk off, major expenses, such as housing, food and medical covered through the government. If you’re the wealthy upper class, you don’t have to worry about those things either, as you’d have more income than you could spend. If you’re in the middle class, one surgery can put you in debt for the rest of your life, if not beyond, as there’s plenty of people who don’t finish the payments.