Comments: Once Again Adam Smith Betrays the Principles of Adam Smith

Did they mention that they are equally productive because they work 18 hours a day? My god. . . These ‘economists’ want everybody in the world to be slaves.

And how productive are they? If anybody’s wages needs to be cut, it is those of economists and their partners in crime, Wall St. bankers.

And you’re right about Adam Smith. If he was alive today, he would probably be a conservationist, and endorse environmental views rather than the moral bankruptcy of America’s economic system, which has turned out to be the farthest thing from traditional capitalism as he conceived it.

Posted by Truth Excavator at November 13, 2009 05:45 PM

I think they assume nobody else does either.

Posted by JRB at November 13, 2009 06:34 PM

"American workers are overpaid, relative to equally productive employees elsewhere doing the same work. If the global economy is to get into balance, that gap must close..."

An illustration of how ideology works. Take a statement of fact: American workers are paid more then 'equally productive' workers elsewhere, and make a leap from there to a nonfactual value judgment: American workers are 'overpaid', and workers elsewhere are paid presumably just right (or at most slightly less then they 'should' be). A value judgment, that, no doubt happily coincides with the judge's self-interest.

One could imagine rather different judgments, at least as sensible:

"Foreign workers are underpaid, relative to equally productive employees in the USA doing the same work. If the global economy is to get into balance, that gap must close..."

Posted by g at November 13, 2009 07:14 PM

Anyhow, the point is it is tiresome listening to right wing blather about supposedly 'overpaid' workers (e.g. unionized workers, public sector workers, rich country workers...), the evidence of their being 'overpaid' being that other similar workers are paid less. As if that couldn't be taken as evidence to support the belief that the 'overpaid' workers are paid what they deserve, while the other, non-unionized, private sector, third world workers are being exploited and not getting their due.

Posted by g at November 13, 2009 07:34 PM

I'm not exactly sure how this works. I assume these people just never read anything.

Ditto Glen Beck talking about Thomas Paine. He seems to have no inkling or concern that any of his listeners will read Paine and find out that he was a dirty anti-Christian liberal.

Posted by Cloud at November 13, 2009 07:48 PM

I won't read the original work because the economic ignorance shown by this statement hurts my brain. The exchange rate is the equitable mechanism though which pay is equalized across borders. Larry Summers' strong dollar policy -- implemented by manipulation of the exchange rate for the benefit of "finance professionals" -- is the cause of the flight of manufacturing jobs from the States.
The real Dean (Baker not Broder) weighs in.

Posted by coriolis at November 13, 2009 08:11 PM

That's a great post. Next week de toqueville?

"I assume these people just never read anything."

Of course they don't! Unfortunately, most people don't, which encourages trouble:

Dulles: But nobody reads. Don't believe people read in this country. There will be a few professors who will read the record. . .

Jenner: And a few newspaper reporters who will read parts of it.

Dulles: The public will read very little. . .

July 9, 1964 Warren Commission meeting.

Posted by N E at November 13, 2009 08:45 PM

Due to the magic of the internets, I was just reading this

"We, in civilized societies, are rich. Why then are the many poor? Why this painful drudgery for the masses? Why, even to the best paid workman, this uncertainty for the morrow, in the midst of all the wealth inherited from the past, and in spite of the powerful means of production, which could ensure comfort to all in return for a few hours of daily toil?

The Socialists have said it and repeated it unwearyingly. Daily they reiterate it, demonstrating it by arguments taken from all the sciences. It is because all that is necessary for production -- the land, the mines, the highways, machinery, food, shelter, education, knowledge -- all have been seized by the few in the course of that long story of robbery, enforced migration or wars, of ignorance and oppression, which has been the life of the human race before it had learned to subdue the forces of Nature. It is because, taking advantage of alleged rights acquired in the past, these few appropriate today two-thirds of the products of human labor, and then squander them in the most stupid and shameful way. It is because, having reduced the masses to a point at which they have not the means of subsistence for a month, or even for a week in advance, the few only allow the many to work on condition of themselves receiving the lion's share. It is because these few prevent the remainder of men from producing the things they need, and force them to produce, not the necessaries of life for all, but whatever offers the greatest profits to the monopolists. In this is the substance of all Socialism." -- Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread; 1892

Posted by Euripides at November 13, 2009 08:48 PM

These economists who sit there babbling away on TV telling everyone why the economy is how it is should be the first to have their wages cut along with the satanic bankers who should be lined up and executed against a wall.

Posted by japan rail pass at November 13, 2009 11:39 PM

If you count just workers, not executives, then American workers are 15th highest in the world in income. Meanwhile American CEO are the most overpaid. The major reasons that American companies have problems competing is the high cost of health care and the high cost of executive compensation.

Posted by peter john at November 14, 2009 12:20 AM

it must be nice to so comfortably submit one's turds for major publication with thoughtless faith they will be polished and distributed.

Posted by hapa at November 14, 2009 04:32 AM

"American workers are overpaid, relative to equally productive employees elsewhere doing the same work. If the global economy is to get into balance, that gap must close..."

How does the New York Times get away with publishing this marxist drivel?

Posted by bobbyp at November 14, 2009 10:03 AM


If you count just workers, not executives, then American workers are 15th highest in the world in income. Meanwhile American CEO are the most overpaid.

I believe that's true but how or where do I corroborate that?

Posted by cemmcs at November 14, 2009 10:30 AM

Maybe we need to get a bunch of Indian op-ed writers for the NYT who'll pen articles about globalization for 5 or 10 bucks a column to replace the current crew. I have to believe Tom Friedman would stand for nothing less.

Posted by Jonathan Versen at November 14, 2009 10:54 AM

jonathan versen wins the prize for wit today.

Posted by N E at November 14, 2009 02:25 PM

How on earth do these people ever step foot outside the city without getting beaten to a pulp by the peasants they encounter?

Remind me, do we bow or curtsy in their presence?

Posted by Mark Gisleson at November 14, 2009 02:39 PM

Mark Giselson, you're missing the point. FIGURING OUT whether we bow or curtsy is what prevents us from beating these people to a pulp!

Posted by Aaron Datesman at November 14, 2009 02:46 PM

Oh. I thought it was the Blackwater goons in the armored Navigator behind the gold-plated Hummer with the USA! vanity plates and Goldman Sachs putz behind the wheel.

Posted by Mark Gisleson at November 14, 2009 04:27 PM

Why thank you, NE. (bows.) :^)

Posted by Jonathan Versen at November 14, 2009 07:12 PM

jonathan versen wins the prize for wit today.

Well, OK, but that line was stolen straight from Dean Baker.

Posted by bobbyp at November 14, 2009 08:17 PM

No bobbyp, many monkeys have thought of it simultaneously.

I remember a few years ago I left a comment at a Salon article referring to a 'globalist overclass' and thought I was so clever for having coined the phrase, then I looked it up and found that a bunch of people had used the term before, all seemingly unaware of one another. I think some blogger from Toronto was first, at least per my search, but who knows?

On the other hand, if Mr Baker gets a paralegal from Sri Lanka to help him sue me, I may be screwed.

Of course I am assuming you are referring to the bit about cut-rate op-ed columnists. By contrast, taunting Tom Friedman is probably in the public domain by now.

Posted by Jonathan Versen at November 14, 2009 09:16 PM

JV,

Just pointing out one of the monkeys...and taunting Tom Friedman is a public duty. Thanks.

Posted by bobbyp at November 15, 2009 10:41 AM

I don't give a damn who thought of it first, I would pay good money to see Tom Friedman (a) replaced by an Indian op-ed writer and (b) beaten to a pulp by the peasants.

Posted by NomadUK at November 15, 2009 11:20 AM

As Noam Chomsky said:

"Adam Smith... you're supposed to worship him —not read him."

I used to get into so many arguments with talk radio fans at work who love to tell me about the "free market" economics of Adam Smith and how the Democrats are taking us away from that and into socialism. Discussing what Adam Smith actually wrote and how our economy actually moves products and services usually throws cold water on the conversation.http://mutualist.blogspot.com/2006/09/vulgar-libertarianism-neoliberalism.html

For some reason they don't talk to much politics with me anymore.

http://counterecon.com/2009/03/27/nobody-actually-reads-adam-smith-and-a-wealth-of-nations/

Posted by Walt C at November 15, 2009 06:37 PM

"I'm not exactly sure how this works."

Well, it seems awfully close to human nature, if you look at all the religious people who have no idea what their scriptures say...

Posted by Solar Hero at November 16, 2009 04:02 PM

I think this argument would be more effective if you had linked a column that actually mentioned Adam Smith.

Posted by Joshua Herring at November 17, 2009 10:01 AM

I assume these people just never read anything.

Joshua Herring has provided another datum bolstering your hypothesis.

Posted by mds at November 17, 2009 04:03 PM

OK, mds, show me where in the New York Times column that is the lead-in to this entry about selectively quoting Adam Smith Adam Smith is quoted or even mentioned?

Thanks.

Posted by Joshua Herring at November 17, 2009 04:43 PM

NY Times continues to publish mindless drivel, from my Big Picture post


S Brennan Says:
November 17th, 2009 at 1:04 pm

“…why are we surprised that jobs in the US are dieing off? after all, if you are competing with countries with say 50% less in standard of living, they can live on lots less than we can.” – willid3

With respect willid3, this is the convetional wisdom, but it is flat-ass wrong.

From my Facebook:

“Ever wonder why Germany with it’s high wages, high taxes, powerful unions and sky high cost of living winds up kicking everybody’s ass in industrial production and maintaining a balanced trade sheet?

Could it be that Germans look out for one another? Do you think Germans understand their fates are intertwined…and that social unrest…however it manifests itself…is inefficient? I think they do…and we do too, that’s why the CIA keeps the Gini index.” – October 29 at 1:25pm · Comment ·LikeUnlike · View Feedback (9)Hide Feedback (9) · Share

From Yves Smith

If German labor practices are so terrible, then how was Germany an export powerhouse, able to punch above its weight versus Japan and China, while the US, with our supposedly great advantage of more flexible (and therefore cheaper) labor, has run chronic and large current account deficits? And why is Germany a hotbed of successful entrepreneurial companies, its famed Mittelstand? If Germany was such a terrible place to do business, wouldn’t they have hollowed out manufacturing just as the US has done? Might it be that there are unrecognized pluses of not being able to fire workers at will, that the company and the employees recognize that they are in the same boat, and the company has more reason to invest in its employees – November 13, 2009

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2009/11/krugman-on-the-need-for-jobs-policies.html

Posted by S Brennan at November 17, 2009 07:27 PM

OK, mds, show me where in the New York Times column that is the lead-in to this entry about selectively quoting Adam Smith Adam Smith is quoted or even mentioned?

Why don't you point out where in this entry it is asserted that Adam Smith is quoted or even mentioned in the column in question?

But let's try again anyway. Warning: the numbers go clear up to four.

(1) "Free-market" wankers write column for New York Times

(2) A claim in their column runs afoul of capitalist icon Adam Smith, as demonstrated by a quotation from The Wealth of Nations

(3) Mr. Schwarz notes the oddity of how contrary modern right-wing American economic thought is to Adam Smith's writings, even as modern right-wingers at such places as The Leadership Institute (or GMU, etc, etc,) purport to idolize him.

(4) Disingenuous and/or illiterate commenter points out that finance professionals in linked column don't even mention Adam Smith, which apparently invalidates the observation that the American overclass pay frequent lip service to Adam Smith while ignoring much of what he actually wrote.

But you know, you're probably right. I'm sure the column authors have never favorably invoked Adam Smith. They've probably never even heard the name mentioned, even with "conservative Washington" wearing goddamn Adam Smith ties.

Posted by mds at November 18, 2009 09:25 AM

If you haven't already, see "Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism" by Ha-Joon Chang. One of the most precise debunking of free market dogma you will ever read.-Tony

Posted by tony at November 18, 2009 03:14 PM