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Thread: Did Adam Smith really accomplish anything of substance?

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    Default Did Adam Smith really accomplish anything of substance?

    It is claimed that Adam Smith and many other important economists found the new World so to speak where everything will be just , efficient, harmonious and logical in a sort of market system.

    But looking deeper into it, it is easy to see that many Middle Age barbaric practices still remain. Sure, many developed countries experience some orderly economic arrangements and offer opportunitites for their citizens. However, this might be due simply to the fact that there is no longer one single country that can largely depend only on itself.

    So, it is easily visible that America's livelihood is largely dependent on Chinese sweatshops, or Mexican paupers illegally looking for work, or support for such un-Democratic regimes as Saudi Arabia where many men are chosen to be rich or poor at birth.

    And still, even in America there are many glass ceilings for many American citizens where it is ensured that wealthy pass on their wealth and most poor never achieve it.

    So, have we really achieved visions of Adam Smith or do we simply see a modern Middle Age version of the World?

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    Did Adam Smith really accomplish anything of substance?

    Yes. He wrote The Wealth of Nations, which by any measure is considered a classic. I'll admit I haven't read it though. And I suspect, but don't know, that lassiez-faire types like to take what they want from Smith, while leaving other pieces behind. I mean, I think most people know Smith for the concept of the "invisible hand". But that doesn't necessarily mean that he, in the 18th century, anticipated modern capitalism, or supported what it has become.
    Last edited by matclone; 04-29-2007 at 02:59 PM.

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    But that doesn't necessarily mean that he, in the 18th century, anticipated modern capitalism

    Neither did Marx but he is often reprimanded for his description of Capitalistic flaws.

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    What I am trying to say, I guess, is that Adam Smith predicted a capitalist system that WOULD WORK WITHOUT WHAT WE KNOW TODAY AS OUTSORCING. Sure, trade was essential but never did Adam Smith state such phenomenon as American companies moving to other countries, treating workers like dirt by American standards and paying them a fraction of what American workers make.

    Neither Marx nor Smith ever mentioned any of this and yet Adam Smith is viewed as the father of Capitalism and Marx as the Devil while the system Adam Smith described WOULD NEVER WORK TODAY and neither would Capitalism that Marx had in mind.

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    One might say they, Smith and Marx, both had theories. Smith's was, I suppose, that a free exchange of goods (the market) is beneficial to society. Marx's was that capitalism by its nature is flawed. A good theory should stand over time. Of course, I'm sure neither foresaw the technological advances that have made possible, among other things, outsourcing.

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    So, it seems to me that what we have been experiencing in the past 15-20 years and especially under Bush, is a clear departure from Smith's harmony and efficiency of capitalism and also clearly away from Marx's assumption of evaluating capitalism as a fair system.

    I would imagine, with this pace, neither Smith's nor Marx's ideas will have much relevance to success or failure of Capitalism.
    Last edited by Big; 04-29-2007 at 04:09 PM.

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    Another issue is the issue of immigration. Neither Marx nor Smith mention immigration to America as a vital piece of success of American economy. I heard on CNN America allows 2 million legal immigrants every year which is more than immigration in all other countries combined.

    Sure, Smith and Marx could have forseen immigrants coming to America seeking "Freedom". However, neither mentions the fact that many immigrants come to America and considering their qualifications, drive and expertise, do jobs with a performance that would not have been possible for most American citizens.
    Last edited by Big; 04-29-2007 at 04:22 PM.

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    So, it seems to me that what we have been experiencing in the past 15-20 years and especially under Bush, is a clear departure from Smith's harmony and efficiency of capitalism I think you need to go back further than 10-15 years and the Bush Administration to find problems.

    and also clearly away from Marx's assumption of evaluating capitalism as a fair system.

    That's the second time you've mentioned something about Marx finding favor with capitalism. I don't think he did.

    I would imagine, with this pace, neither Smith's nor Marx's ideas will have much relevance to success or failure of Capitalism.

    I disagree. Their ideas are both very relevant, even if the world is different than the one they left, and changes have occurred that they did not anticipate.

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    Marx was trying to explain flaws of Capitalism assuming people expect Capitalism to be fair. There is nothing fair about Chinese sweatshops, Mexican illegal immigration and American support of Saudi Kingdom.

    Neither is Smith's proclamation of success of the market system is relevant to reality where Smith claimed all participants would be failry compensated.

    I don't know how living 8 people per room for Mexicans or 200 people in China using 1 bathroom in sweatshops is a fair compensation for the services they provide to American economy.

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