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Old 07.10.2007, 09:59 PM   #61
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Old 07.11.2007, 02:42 AM   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nature scene
yeah!

those people always exist though, in all systems. In socialist systems, they are the leaders and bureaucrats.



No, no, no, no, no. You couldn't be more wrong! Adam Smith crafted his treatise on the Wealth of Nations to illustrate all the reasons why nationalist economic systems don't work. The global economic system prior to Smith was one of mercantilism - in which nations hoarded gold and favored & protected their industries - often poorly performing ones. (we still have a lot of work to do in this area, as we continue to subsidize the hell out of a multitude of industries.)

You have to remember that he was writing in a time before global communication and travel was as easy as it is today. Back in his time, some global trading would have been much more difficult and much more expensive - the technology just didn't exist yet. He lived in an agrarian society, and his examples were skewed to that life. The principles that he argued have absolutely nothing to do with keeping economic systems within political boundaries.

Smith and David Ricardo showed us two things (among many more): first - that gold does not equal wealth, and second - the concept of comparative advantage. They showed us precisely why we shouldn't protect domestic industries if a peaceful trading partner could perform with lower opportunity costs. They both knew that nations are artificial, even though they didn't explicitly state it.

Smith was, on the other hand, very wary of capitalists - not the capitalist system though. He saw them as a necessary evil. He said we should always be concerned when capitalists meet together because it usually ends with them conspiring to raise prices. Smith also had some other anti-complete free market sentiments. Many people and economists agree with him, many don't.

Bollocks. Wrong, but most incredibly wrong about this comment "The principles that he argued have absolutely nothing to do with keeping economic systems within political boundaries".

Someone needs to dust off their Wealth of Nations. Yes, his thoughts are a product of his times. But he mentions society at key points, suggesting that by possessing capital people are led to investing their capital in their domestic (ie national) economies, even though market signals might suggest that they might get a higher return from investing in foreign industry. Smith's message is very different from the popular understanding of it; mainly that greed, including the following of market price for the sole purpose of maximising individual profit, is best both for individuals and their communities. Rather, his message is that our social consciences lead us to re-evaluate our self-interest, without our being fully conscious of the process.

He took for granted a social conciousness for the good of the nation, which is why capitalism today has no soul.
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Old 07.11.2007, 03:13 AM   #63
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yeah yeah, capitalism sucks, i've heard it all. well, guess what? life's a bitch and then you die, so there's no use in complaining.
sorry about my bleak point of view.
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Old 07.11.2007, 03:45 AM   #64
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Old 07.11.2007, 06:24 AM   #65
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Old 07.11.2007, 09:21 AM   #66
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ow. yes. agreeed. that fucking rotten bastard...
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Old 07.11.2007, 03:48 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricechex
Bollocks. Wrong, but most incredibly wrong about this comment "The principles that he argued have absolutely nothing to do with keeping economic systems within political boundaries".

Someone needs to dust off their Wealth of Nations. Yes, his thoughts are a product of his times. But he mentions society at key points, suggesting that by possessing capital people are led to investing their capital in their domestic (ie national) economies, even though market signals might suggest that they might get a higher return from investing in foreign industry. Smith's message is very different from the popular understanding of it; mainly that greed, including the following of market price for the sole purpose of maximising individual profit, is best both for individuals and their communities. Rather, his message is that our social consciences lead us to re-evaluate our self-interest, without our being fully conscious of the process.

He took for granted a social conciousness for the good of the nation, which is why capitalism today has no soul.

I think you're wrong, and I'm willing to bet that I've read Wealth of Nations many more times than you have (in it's entirety - which is not a good idea by the way - only about 3 or 4 chapters have anything with real substance.), and have been barraged with more interpretations of the book than you can imagine.

Smith didn't necessarily prefer domestic industries, nor did he say that we should. He said, "As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual value of society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

Basically, he argued that people naturally prefer to invest in domestic industry for self-interested reasons. The byproduct being that society was better off because of his self-interested actions. What he is saying is that if you want to make the society you live in better off, invest in domestic industry, and by all means do not let governments interfere in economic decision-making. The reasoning behind his seeming preference for domestic over foreign is moral, not economic. And it is mostly a sign of the times under the British Empire.

But I ask why does it matter which society is better off? What if I want to make people far away better off? If a person directs funds to foreign industry, he is simply making another part of the global society better off. All people deserve to be better off, who are you or anyone else to say where people should invest their money?

I don't agree with any of the reasoning for economic nationalism, as it stems from the idea that people from one country should be preferred over those from another. Why? What separates some humans from others other than their coincidental birthplaces?

If you listen to and start to dig through the nationalist economic arguments that exist today, coming from the likes of Lou Dobbs and the Economic Policy Institute, you might see them for what they are: nothing more than glorified mercantilism based on faulty assumptions. The main error being that they believe in order for comparative advantage to exist, labor must not be allowed to move freely.

This is entirely false. It is a falsity based on another false assumpion - that nation states are a prerequisite for trade. "National economies" are arbitrary. Sure they're real, but they're defined by imaginary boundaries.

Answer me this: Why does an American farmer, chairmaker, auto manufacturer, etc. deserve a government granted advantage over his counterpart in another country? What is it that makes him so much more deserving of money that we must remove his competition by subsidizing him?

Things Adam Smith argued against: tariffs, subsidies, and another other government policies that granted favor to one producer over another.
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