20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:27 am

20170924 Pages 1008-1012

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 3

Of Public Debts

In these pages Mr. Smith continues discussion of the difficulty of retiring public debt.

In this set of pages, Mr. Smith introduces the time honored expedient of debasing the currency as a way of retiring public debt. He mentions the Romans, for example, who “raised two ounces of copper to a denomination which had always before expressed the value of twelve ounces”.

On page 1012, Mr. Smith lays the foundation for a transition to an extension of the British system of taxation.


Because this thread is intended to attempt to gain an understanding of how economies function, and what practices or policies lead to greater or lesser success given specific human populations, I will from time to time bring other voices into the mix. Today, I am interested in the wording used by an author give as “Steve Patterson”, in a piece at mises.org dated 06/18/2015:

Begin Quotation:
Businesses, on the other hand, deal with creating wealth by selling goods and services people value.
End Quotation.

I am dubious about this statement. Patterson is writing about the differences he sees between businesses and charities, so he deserves some consideration on that account, but taking the statement as quoted, I have a real problem with it.

I consider “selling” to be a form of labor which does indeed have value in itself, because it matches a customer with a supplier, to the mutual benefit of each. It is normal for the supplier to split a portion of the proceeds of each sale with the sales person. However, I am not persuaded that the labor thus performed is responsible for more than a portion of the wealth created, in the sense that Mr. Smith seems to mean when he says, on page 277:
Begin Quotation:
The real wealth of the country, the annual produce of its land and labour...
End Quotation.

Perhaps my argument with Mr. Patterson comes down to his over simplification of the activities of the business in his user of the word “selling”. A charity performs “sales” activities just as surely as a traditional business does, so in that sense, the labor of selling its services to its customers adds to the sum “annual produce”.

Assuming for a moment that a business has created a product out of components or materials collected from elsewhere, then the products “sold” to customers are part of the “annual produce”.

If the business is merely distributing goods manufactured by others, then to my way of thinking it is no more virtuous than the charity, except that it has demanded a trade of something in exchange for the goods or services sold.

The business has contributed to the “annual produce” in the limited context of distribution, but I fail (at the moment) to see how this activity has contributed to the wealth of the nation (ie, “annual produce”) any more that the charity has done.

A few sentences on, Mr. Patterson argues:
“Wealth is not found in nature;...”

But Mr. Smith asserts, a bit later on page 277:
Begin Quotation:
he land constitutes by far the greatest, the most important, and the most durable part of the wealth of every extensive country.
End Quotation.

I would argue that the United States has “created wealth” in Mr. Smith's land sense, on many occasions when it has distributed land to individuals. The first notable occasion for this practice was distribution to Revolutionary War veterans, who had not been paid for their services.

https://www.archives.gov/files/research ... 5-1855.pdf

According to this web site, land is still available for homesteading in the United States:
http://www.homesteadandprepper.com/mode ... d-is-free/

However, the Homestead Act of 1862 has been ended:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_Acts

It is my impression that the awarding of land to individuals, in return for their commitment to develop and to live on the land, is equivalent to a loan which might be offered for purchase of land, without the obligation to improve it.

Thus, I would argue that awarding the land to individuals for free, in return for development of that land, is an act of wealth creation, whereas the mere purchase of land for a fee is a transfer which does not create wealth through its contribution to “annual produce”. However, I can understand the argument that if the seller realizes a gain from the sale, then that individual's wealth has been increased, at the expense of the buyer, whose loan must have included that transfer to the seller.

I am not convinced that the transfer from the buyer to the seller has increased the “annual produce” of the nation.

(th)
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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sat Sep 30, 2017 1:22 pm

20170930 Pages 1012-1013

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 3

Of Public Debts

In these pages Mr. Smith continues discussion of the retiring public debt, and begins a transition to a grand scheme to retire the public debt of Great Britain by extending the franchise to all the regions then comprising the empire.

During the years that Mr. Smith wrote these pages, the American colonies were moving rapidly toward what became a total break of ties with England.

From page 1013 we have:
Begin Quotation:
By extending the British system of taxation to all the different provinces of the empire inhabited by people of either British or European extraction, a much greater augmentation of revenue might be expected.
End Quotation.

Mr. Smith then observes:
Begin Quotation:
This, however, could scarce, perhaps, be done, consistently with the principles of the British constitution, with admitting into the British parliament...a fair and equal representation of all those different provinces ...
End Quotation.

He concludes by noting that “private interests” and “confirmed prejudices” would preclude the possibility.

Thus, in this section, Mr. Smith is noting the call of the American Colonies for representation in Parliament, and the eventual failure of that call.

However, in the pages to follow, Mr. Smith promises to consider how extension of the British system of taxation might look, if extended as he imagines it might.


Because this thread is devoted to study of economics, I'd like to provide links to two opinion pieces that a appeared in a local newspaper recently, taking opposite views of a discussion underway at the national level, about revisions to the American system of taxation.

Mr. Andrew Doehrel is president and chif executive officer of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, which is funded by commercial interests in the State:

http://www.dispatch.com/opinion/2017092 ... f-tax-code

Ms. Wendy Patton is Ohio senior project director for Policy Matters Ohio, which is self described as: a nonpartisan policy research institute 

http://www.dispatch.com/opinion/2017100 ... prosperity

After reading both of these opinion pieces, I am left with an understanding of the gulf between the two positions, and an overall feeling that Mr. Doehrel is wildly optimistic about his confidence in “free enterprise, economic comparativeness and job growth”.

Meanwhile, Ms. Patton asserts that “Good public policies boost wealth and productivity”.

My impression is that both of these folks are striving to understand what good public policy might be, but that neither one seems (to me) to have achieved the understand that is needed, in this State, and in the country as a whole.

Meanwhile, Mr. Elon Musk announced his vision for development of equipment and procedures capable of supporting an expedition to Mars, starting in 2022. Mr. Musk has inspired thousands of people to exert their maximum effort to support his visions for electric vehicles, vacuum tube transport, space travel and other similar grand alternative future technologies.

It seems to me that wealth is being created by the individuals and teams Mr. Musk has inspired.

On page 273, Mr. Smith makes one of several definitions of wealth in terms of “land and labour”:
Begin Quotation:
real value of the annual produce of the land and labour of mankind.
End Quotation.

It occurs to me just now that the word “land” can be extended to the realm where Mr. Musk operates, with the word “environment”, so that both matter and energy available to Mr. Musk and his staff are understood as contributing to the wealth produced through their “labour”.

(th)
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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:37 pm

20171007 Page 1014

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 3

Of Public Debts

In these pages Mr. Smith continues discussion of the retiring public debt, and begins a transition to a grand scheme to retire the public debt of Great Britain by extending the franchise to all the regions then comprising the empire.

Because this is the final chapter, and there are only 14 pages left to consider, I've decided to stretch this phase out by advancing one page at a time.

My sense of this chapter is that it may be compared to a symphony, which is building toward a grand finale. In the case of Mr. Smith's Public Debts chapter, I note that he concludes with what amounts to a forecast of the dissolution of the British Empire which did not occur until World War II.

On the present page, Mr. Smith considers the tithe of the church of the time, and offers preference for a uniform land tax which would accrue to the government.

Because these pages were written when America had not yet completed its separation from Great Britain, Mr. Smith allows himself to entertain the prospect that the lands in America might be assessed “...according to an equitable valuation in consequence of an accurate survey”.

I note that the implication of these remarks is that Mr. Smith is unaware of or simply discounts the surveys already performed in America, by George Washington and many others. At the same time, I recognize that surveys of land in America have continued since Washington's time, and indeed, are not yet complete.

https://nationalmap.gov/small_scale/a_plss.html

Begin Quotation:
Over the past two centuries, almost 1.5 billion acres have been surveyed into townships and sections. The BLM is the Federal Government's official record keeper for over 200 years' worth of cadastral survey records and plats. In addition, BLM is still completing numerous new surveys each year, mostly in Alaska, as well as conducting resurveys to restore obliterated or lost original survey corners.
End Quotation.

Smith concludes Page 1014 with mention of “Stamp-duties”. According to:

https://www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax

The British Stamp Duty Land Tax remains in service today.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/busi ... haler.html

Begin Quotation:
WASHINGTON — Richard H. Thaler, whose work has persuaded many economists to pay more attention to human behavior, and many governments to pay more attention to economics, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences on Monday.
End Quotation.

I note that Mr. Smith mentions what I deduce to be irrational behavior by individuals and groups (such as governments or corporations of the time), but since his theme was so all encompassing, the word “irrational” does not appear in the index, and I do not recall his making it a major theme.

Mr. Smith's famous articulation of the concept of “the invisible hand” is mentioned in the index (page 485).

From the vantage point of 2017, I am persuaded that Smith's focus upon the phrase:

Begin quotation (page 485):
...he intends only his own gain...
End Quotation.

Is an oversimplification, necessary no doubt for the centuries of persistence of his concept of the “invisible hand”, but from my observation it discounts the good will of what I perceive to be the greater part of the human race, to act deliberately to improve the overall environment.

Indeed, it seems to me that Smith himself was embarked upon an enterprise of improving the global environment in which he lived. While Mr. Smith may indeed have been thinking about his “own gain”, yet it seems to me that his undertaking was motivated by a sense of higher purpose.

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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:16 pm

20171014 Page 1015

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 3

Of Public Debts

In these pages Mr. Smith continues discussion of the retiring public debt, and begins a transition to a grand scheme to retire the public debt of Great Britain by extending the franchise to all the regions then comprising the empire.

Because this is the final chapter, and there are only 14 pages left to consider, I've decided to stretch this phase out by advancing one page at a time.

My sense of this chapter is that it may be compared to a symphony, which is building toward a grand finale. In the case of Mr. Smith's Public Debts chapter, I note that he concludes with what amounts to a forecast of the dissolution of the British Empire which did not occur until World War II.

On the present page, Mr. Smith considers the idea of extending free trade to Ireland and “all the different parts of the British empire”. He imagines “an immense internal market”.

Looking back form 2017, it seems to me that Smith's vision came to pass in North America, separately in the United States and Canada, and then merging to some extent with more and more liberal trade arrangements.

Smith spends a paragraph or two discussing how revenue might be produced by taxing consumable items. In this section he brings up a kind of “beer” made in the American colonies out of molasses, and proposes to tax the import of molasses, although he notes there is already tax imposed upon molasses, both by Great Britain, but also by local American political jurisdictions.


In 2010, Alan Beattie published a book entitled: “False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World”

Because the current review of “The Wealth of Nations” is drawing to a close, I ordered a copy of Beattie's text for study and possible discussion in this thread.

CSPAN.org offers a one hour interview with Mr. Beattie:
https://www.c-span.org/video/?285244-1/ ... an-beattie

(th)
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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:01 pm

20171021 Page 1017-1018

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 3

Of Public Debts

In these pages Mr. Smith continues discussion of the retiring public debt, and begins a transition to a grand scheme to retire the public debt of Great Britain by extending the franchise to all the regions then comprising the empire.

Because this is the final chapter, and there are only 10 pages left to consider, I've decided to stretch this phase out by advancing one page at a time.

My sense of this chapter is that it may be compared to a symphony, which is building toward a grand finale. In the case of Mr. Smith's Public Debts chapter, I note that he concludes with what amounts to a forecast of the dissolution of the British Empire which did not occur until World War II.

On the present pages, Mr. Smith opens with study of commodities (sugar, rum and tobacco) which are not necessities but which are never-the-less widely consumed. Mr. Smith argues that such products are suitable for taxation, and then, as part of his imagining of a united British Empire, he imagines how a system of taxation of such products might occur, and how the yield might help to retire the public debt.

As Mr. Smith imagines the benefit of retiring the public debt, he foresees a reduction of the burden of taxation upon the population, and a variety of benefits that might then ensue.



As an exercise, I decided to try to imagine how a group of people might organize themselves if they found themselves on a remote location without anything except what clothes they are wearing, and what they can carry.

This situation describes refugees from conflict and from natural disasters, and it has occurred many times throughout the history of the human race. It is a description of Rohingya people who are escaping from Myanmar to Bangladesh, and of residents of South Sudan who are escaping to Uganda.

Assuming for a moment that no artificial structures are carried into the new situation along with the population, I am interested in trying to imagine how an economy might develop, assuming good will on everyone's part, and the absence of yielding to the temptation of use of force or deceit to secure resources.

This favorable conditions are NOT present in the refugee situations in the news in 2017, so the exercise I'd like to undertake is unrealistic. Never-the-less, there may be situations where it can occur.

In particular, it can occur that a population collectively undertakes securing of a living place (land has historically been the locale, but in future, living away from land is possible).

Very recently, it has been reported that lava tubes of substantial size may exist on the Moon, so it is potentially feasible to establish viable living conditions on the Moon.

http://nypost.com/2017/10/19/future-ast ... -the-moon/

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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:31 pm

20171028 Adam Smith Update

Pages 1018-1020

In this section, Mr. Smith considers topics which are remarkably timely, because his observations of conditions of various populations in the 1770's resonate with concerns in the United States in 2017.

He is discussing his proposal for a system of taxation which might be imposed upon all parts of the Empire of Great Britain as it existed at the time, before the American colonies established their independence.

In this section Mr. Smith opens with the topic of malt liquor, and in the course of the discussion he observes how the circumstances of white people differ between regions, and compares those circumstances to those of black people in the southern colonies and in the West Indies islands.

The topic of taxation is at the top of the agenda in Washington, D.C., these days, as Republicans struggle to cut taxes while keeping the impact of their ideas on the huge national debt to a level that they believe might be exceeded by growth of the economy due to the cuts.

While Mr. Smith on several occasions brings up risks of smuggling, I observe that in 2017, the Republicans are perplexed by the common practice among very wealthy persons and corporations of moving funds offshore to secret accounts in hopes of avoiding taxes. These behaviors are in the news and in the public consciousness due to a phenomenon that seems peculiar to our time, of public disclosure of secret databases by clever Internet hackers.

The topic of the treatment and circumstances of black people is very much in the news and on the minds of many US citizens these days, and Mr. Smith's observations about the treatment of black people by whites in his day show clearly the matter-of-fact nature of the phenomena in his time.

As this discussion comes to a conclusion, Mr. Smith optimistically opines that the changes to tax policy he proposes might …
Begin Quotation:
… produce a revenue as great in proportion to the consumption of the most thinly populated province, as they do at present in proportion to that of the most populous
End Quotation.

From the perspective of page 1020 of “The Wealth”, and while basking in Mr. Smith's discussion immediately above, I am reminded of something I have thought of numerous times in recent months. The mercantile policy that Mr. Smith found so deficient for the long term health of the society of which he was a part was driven (to oversimplify) by selfish short term interests, which included denying to British citizens living in the North American colonies the advanced technology of the day, which was held close in England (and elsewhere in Europe).

As I look back at the burst of productive activity that occurred as the people who had lately been British citizens acquired and developed advanced manufacturing capability, all that could have been developed much earlier to the benefit of both groups of people, if only the British merchants had understood the wisdom of investing in facilities in the colonies.

I bring this up because even today, human nature being what it is, there is a risk that some humans living today might seek to keep to themselves the ability to manufacture goods needed on Mars or elsewhere in the Solar System, instead of freely supporting such enterprise in those locations away from Earth.

I hope that manufacture using nanotechnology will arrive soon enough so that the knowledge and capability for it's use away from Earth will flow naturally outward despite the desire of some to prevent it.

In private correspondence, the author Tom Easton told me that he believes me that atom-by-atom assembly of complex structures will proceed as rapidly as movie producers have shown us in “Star Trek”, while expressed the view that the model of nanomanufacturing shown to us by nature is the fa more likely scenario. A fully formed tomato is produced by nature's nanomanuacturing over the course of weeks, and a giant oak tree can take a hundred years to assemble itself.

Because this is the Adam Smith thread, I add here my expectation that an economy might well come into being away from Earth, and perhaps even on Earth, wherein individuals take ownership of nanomanufacturing devices which are programmed like 3D Printers are today, to produce objects that have value to others, and for which others will therefore trade with the equipment owners.

Thus, a relatively small population away from Earth, or even on Earth, might be able to sustain a high level of technology without the complex corporations needed to sustain that level of civilization on Earth today.

(th)
Last edited by tahanson43206 on Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 5:28 pm

20171104 Adam Smith Update

Page 1020 Center section

The two paragraphs at the center of page 1020 are concerned with the use of Americans of paper money, and not of gold or silver. Mr. Smith concludes this section with the observation that the American practice must be by choice and not by necessity.

While it is probably inappropriate to read too much into Mr. Smith's observations, I note that over the course of time, gold and silver have both been removed as official money in the United States, and the government manages money by collecting statistics on a large “basket” of items, in order to determine the value of the dollar. From my perspective, management of the money supply in this country seems to be working fairly well.

Reference #2, “False Economy” by Alan Beattie, promises to become a worthy successor to Mr. Smith's opus.

On page 1 (of the Preface) Mr. Beattie asserts that following the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was “working to preserve the most powerful engine for creating wealth in the history of the world”.

I am reminded that Mr. Smith considered the wealth of a nation (or in the case of Page 272, the world) to consist in the “annual produce of the land and labour of mankind”.

My hope is that Mr. Beattie will shed light on how that “engine for creating wealth” is designed and managed, and how it operates (however unevenly) over time.

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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:44 am

20171111 Adam Smith Update
Pages 1020-1021

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 3

Of Public Debts

In these pages Mr. Smith continues discussion of the retiring public debt, and begins a transition to a grand scheme to retire the public debt of Great Britain by extending the franchise to all the regions then comprising the empire.

Because this is the final chapter, and there are only 8 pages left to consider, I've decided to stretch this phase out by advancing one page at a time.

In the opening of this section, Mr. Smith opines:
Begin Quotation:
It is for transacting either domestic or foreign business, that gold and silver money is either necessary or convenient.
End Quotation.

In the following long paragraph, Mr. Smith considers the success enjoyed by the American colonies in using paper money.

In the global scene of 2017, it seems to me that the lessons learned by the American colonists of the 1770's have found full expression in every recognized nation, and even in regions where formal governments do not exist.

The creators of the "Star Trek" television series are said to have imagined that the economy of the far future might not use money at all, but I find it likely that trading of goods and services and intellectual property will continue far into the human future, and that a system of accounting for exchange value will remain a familiar tool for much of that time.
***
Because this is a thread devoted to the study of economics, I'd like to introduce a column by a writer named Cal Thomas who writes for Tribune Content Agency.
Title:'Virtual doctor' could transform health care

Link:
http://www.dispatch.com/opinion/2017110 ... ealth-care

In this column, Mr. Thomas reports on successful experiments with health care support via telecommunications.
From an economics point of view, I see in the growth of this practice a combination of benefits, including increased customer access to services, improved quality of care (within the limitation of telecommunications), and possibly benefits to providers who do not incur the expense of staff for physical facilities.

In any case, the development of this category of health care is likely to continue in off-planet locations, although the speed of light will necessarily limit the span of distance covered by an individual provider.
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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:41 pm

20171118 Adam Smith Update
Page 1021

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 3

Of Public Debts

In these pages Mr. Smith continues discussion of the retiring public debt, and begins a transition to a grand scheme to retire the public debt of Great Britain by extending the franchise to all the regions then comprising the empire.

Because this is the final chapter, and there are only 8 pages left to consider, I've decided to stretch this phase out by advancing one page at a time.


Page 1021 Paragraph from “Some of those governments” through “redundancy of paper-money”

In the 200+ years since Mr. Smith wrote this section, paper money has replaced gold and silver around the world, and (I understand) that the greater part of transactions are now conducted electronically, without ever passing through the paper phase.

In light of his observations of the use of paper money in the American colonies (Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Bay in particular), I note his assertion about the preference for paper money that:
Begin Quotation:
...in both countries it is not the poverty, but the enterprizing and projecting spirit of the people, their desire of employing all the stock which they can get as active and productive stock, ...
End Quotation.

I would risk hazarding a guess here, that if the “spirit” that Smith observed led to disdain for fixed money in his day, surely that same “spirit”, extended over two centuries and around the world, has led to the adoption of paper money, and to the evolution of digital “money” we see in 2017.

In Chapter 2 of Reference #2, “Cities: Why Didn't Washington, D.C., Get the Vote?”

Alan Beattie provides a sweeping look at the history of cities, comparing Rome with Washington, D.C, to begin his discussion, and then considering cities in Italy, England, Europe as a whole, the Middle East and North Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Zambia, Russia, France, China, Canada, India and of course the United States, and I've probably missed a few references.

I appreciated Beattie's mention of the Corn Laws on page 53, because he reminded me of Adam Smith's extensive discussion of corn, scattered throughout the “Wealth”.

In looking toward the future, I get the sense from Mr. Beattie's treatment of cities in this chapter, that cities create favorable environments for people, and their success is a function of the culture they create and sustain. The opening of the chapter calls for a closing that mentions Washington, D.C. I gather from the discussion that the success of the United States is due in part to the decision of the founders NOT to allow citizens of Washington, D.C., to vote in national elections. In contrast with other cities, the residents of Washington were never motivated to act on their own to seize power. He does conclude with a suggestion that the prohibition has worked so well that it might be worth while to take the risk of allowing citizens of Washington to vote. However, from my perspective, I consider it highly unlikely to happen.

(th)
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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:25 pm

20171125 Adam Smith Thread

Page 1021 Paragraph from “In the exterior commerce,” through “...as rich, as any of their neighbors”

In this paragraph, Mr. Smith is discussing the use or non-use of gold and silver in commerce between England and Virginia and Maryland, and he is focused upon the tobacco trade which is significant. He describes trade in kind that is convenient for the merchants, and points out that they expect to make money by selling the tobacco. In conclusion, Mr. Smith observes that Virginia and Maryland, despite non-use of metal money:
Begin Quotation:
...are reckoned, however, as thriving, and consequently as rich, as any of their neighbors.
End Quotation.

I find myself drawn to this observation because of the association of the attribute of “rich” with the attribute of “thriving”.

At multiple locations within “The Wealth” Mr. Smith has argued that the wealth of a nation is due to the productive labor of the population, and specifically to the increase of produce over the course of a year, as opposed to the notion that wealth consists in the resources that may exist in the region occupied or controlled by a nation.

In 2017, at multiple locations around the world, it appears that while a particular region may possess valuable resources, they are frequently unable to organized themselves so as to benefit the entire population, and instead fritter away their resources to outside agents who perform the management activities needed to extract the resources and who deliver as little as possible to the owners. It appears that this state of affairs is achieved through clever use of bribes to selected officials of these nations.

In Chapter 3 of Reference 2, Mr. Beattie expands at length on the concept of “virtual water”.

The title of the chapter is “Why Does Egypt Import Half its Staple Food”.

The crucial concept upon which Mr. Beattie appears to have built this chapter is introduced on page 75:
Begin Quotation:
Thus modern-day Egypt is importing more than grain. It is importing water.
End Quotation.

On page 95, Mr. Beattie cites the example of conflict potential over water, between Israel and Jordan, having been reduced by the “tendency of both countries to start importing water embedded in food”.

On page 100, in concluding the chapter, Mr. Beattie discusses the natural desire of governments to grow crops needed to feed their populations, and the distortion this understandable desire introduces into the operation of what would otherwise be a free market within which the most efficient producers are given the opportunity to supply the needs of populations world wide.

I observe that a nation or a community without a capability of supplying some need better than anyone else will struggle to find the means to trade with efficient producers.

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