20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:58 pm

20170716 Pages 938 to 939

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 2

Of the Sources of the General or Public Revenue of the Society

Article 4

Taxes which, it is intended, should fall indifferently upon every different Species of Revenue

This section: Taxes on Consumable Commodities

This section runs from page 938-980.

To do it justice, and because the last page of 1028 is close at hand, I've decided to consider subsections.

Today, the opening sequence runs from page 938-939. The topic Smith considers is of necessity vs luxury, in relation to the appropriateness of taxation.

To my eye, and considering the practices I observe in the United States in 2017, it seems to me that Smith is generous in his consideration of what is a necessity.

On the other hand, I agree with his suggestion, that a linen shirt or leather shoes are "necessities" by custom.

In the United States of 2017, my observation is that sales tax is forgiven for foods and non-alcoholic beverages, but imposed for clothing of all kinds.

In some jurisdictions, there exists a tax on products for feminine hygiene. As recently as February of 2017, a bill was introduced for consideration by the Ohio House of Representatives to exempt certain hygiene products from sales tax.

From my reading of Smith, I would hazard a guess that he would agree with the proposal.

***
Earlier in "The Wealth of Nations" Mr. Smith discussed various aspects of the herring trade in England and Scotland.

In his 2008 book "Hot, Flat and Crowded" Thomas L. Friedman discussed the herring fisheries on page 69.

Friedman quotes Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope:

Begin Quotation:
Northern Europe was taken into capitalism by the cod fishermen of the North Atlantic in the seventeenth century.
End Quotation.

While Pope's observation was offered in the context of human exploitation of biological commons, I consider the discussion of availability of new and abundant supplies of protein to be of interest as an enabler for development of what became the Industrial Revolution.

Mr. Smith mentions cod on page 25, in the context of its use as money in Newfoundland.

(th)
May every member of The Knowledge forum grow financially, intellectually, socially and beyond.
tahanson43206
 
Posts: 336
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:38 pm

Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:07 am

20170723 Pages 939 - 941

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 2

Of the Sources of the General or Public Revenue of the Society

Article 4

Taxes which, it is intended, should fall indifferently upon every different Species of Revenue

This section: Taxes on Consumable Commodities

This section runs from page 938-980

To do it justice, and because the last page of 1028 is close at hand, I've decided to consider subsections.

Today, I'd like to consider Mr. Smith's observations from the bottom of page 939 through the middle of page 941.

Mr. Smith is discussing the impact of taxes upon necessities, of which (I gather) he disapproves, and on luxuries.

In the course of the discussion, Mr. Smith makes what seem to me to be sweeping generalizations about human beings.

Begin Quotation:
It is the sober and industrious poor who generally bring up the most numerous families, and who principally supply the demand for useful labour.
End Quotation.

Mr. Smith goes on from there, making observations about the poor of his time.

I cannot judge how accurately Mr. Smith captures the character and situation of the poor of his time, but from the vantage point of 240 years later, in the United States, it seems to me that some aspects of the state of poverty has changed.

The kind of sober and industrious person Mr. Smith was praising in his time might very well find employment in the American economy of 2017, but my expectation is that the wages on offer would be insufficient to support one person in a minimal state of comfort, let alone an entire family.

The rapid introduction of sophisticated automation into manufacturing and service industries, and even into agriculture (beyond the long established replacement of horses decades ago) means that fewer and fewer "jobs" are available for anyone, let alone sober and industrious ones.

In a somewhat random search of the Internet (via Mr. Google), I found a conservative web site with an opinion that I can use to make a point:

Begin Quotation from: http://www.heritage.org/poverty-and-ine ... ty-america (ca 2012)
Work is key. When the economy revives, able-bodied recipients of means-tested welfare aid should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid.
End Quotation.

It is my impression that there are simply not enough traditional "jobs" for the people who need them in the Unites States of 2017, and from news reports, I gather the same is true around the world.

From my observation, the state of wealth in a family tends to perpetuate itself, and if poverty is the state of a family, that state tends to persist as well. The United States ** does ** seem to offer some chance of upward mobility, but I am not convinced the reality experienced by most poor persons comes anywhere NEAR the potential that might exist if each such person were brought up with the kind of support that children of wealthy families receive.

That said, I recognize that not every person is able to take advantage of opportunities they may receive.

With that caveat out of the way, I am ** pretty sure ** that children brought up in circumstances that insure good health and intellectual and emotional growth will have a better chance of acquiring the skills and practical knowledge needed for "jobs" in today's complex environment, than those not so gifted.

In-as-much as parents have "volunteered" to supply the workers of tomorrow, I wonder if it makes sense for the community of which they are a part (nation, for example), to undertake to "employ" those parents as custodians of the next generation, and to insure they receive a salary sufficient to insure they are successful in their responsibility.

At present, as I look out at the scene in the United States of 2017, if people become parents, the rest of society is indifferent.

The only notice that I can see that reflects society having a view on the matter of parenting, is the provision of tax deductions for children of wage earners.

(th)
May every member of The Knowledge forum grow financially, intellectually, socially and beyond.
tahanson43206
 
Posts: 336
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:38 pm

Previous

Return to New members

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron