Saturday, April 17, 2010

A few choice quotes for the morning

One of my biggest pet peeves is the pervasive and willful misunderstanding of Adam Smith and his theories on capitalism. It is from Mr. Smith that we have such ideas as the invisible hand that guides all markets to equilibrium. So perhaps this my little attempt to get you all to read (or re-read) a classic.

To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature.

Wait, what? That isn't the virtue of selfishness espoused by those sadly misguided Randian Objectivists. That sounds damn near like something super-socialist Jesus would say.

As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce.
bolds mine

Why Mr. Smith, I do believe you are saying that men will always, given the opportunity, take what they haven't earned. This does not sound like a push for a completely "free" and unregulated market. Quite the opposite, actually.

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, cloath and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, cloathed and lodged.

Would you please rise from the grave Mr. Smith, and explain that to the illustrious Chicago school economists who's theories are increasing the poverty rate just as fast as they can? Pretty please. I'll even hold the seance.

I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

That one's for the Health insurance parasites.

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices

That one's for the lobbyists.

A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him.

Sacre Bleu! That sounds like a call for a minimum wage! Somebody call for the fainting couch for the libertarians!

Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.

I do wonder what Mr. Smith would have to say about Wall Street bonuses. Actually, I don't. I'm pretty sure he'd spit in a banskters eye rather than shake his hand.

Every tax, however, is to the person who pays it a badge, not of slavery but of liberty. It denotes that he is a subject to government, indeed, but that, as he has some property, he cannot himself be the property of a master.

That one's for the Teabaggers and Rethuglikans alike.

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