20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Re: 20160413 Adam Smith Book 2 Chapter 2

Postby tahanson43206 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:53 am

2016/09/05 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 2 Chapter 2 “Of Money Considered as a particular Branch of the General Stock...”

The full title of this chapter is:
Begin Quotation:
Of Money considered as a particular branch of the general stock of the society, or the expense of maintaining the national capital.
End Quotation.

A recurring them in “Wealth” is that money does NOT represent the wealth of a nation. The actual wealth of a nation consists of its annual production of goods and services. However, 240 years ago, and today in 2016, the accumulation of money was regarded as a way to accumulate wealth. Indeed, it seems to me that for an individual or a small group such as a family, that may be true. However, Smith addresses the issue at the level of a nation, and makes the point in a myriad of ways, that for the leaders of a nation to imagine that accumulation of money is equivalent to wealth is absurd.

Going forward, and certainly when human population is dispersed away from Earth, it seems to me that the practice of building a database of values of a great variety of commodities and services in order to compute the “correct” (ie, generally accepted) value of a fiat currency is appropriate, and indeed the ONLY practical way to implement trade between dispersed communities.

In Smith's day, and indeed, for many decades later, it was expected that balances between nations would be settled with exchange of metals (ie, gold and silver). Today this practice is for all practical purposes eliminated, although the United States still holds some accumulations of gold that are meaningful to nations who still adhere to a gold standard.

Smith spends some time in this chapter considering the topic of banks and banking. In my opinion, Smith is entirely too sanguine about the ability of the public to protect themselves from bank runs, in his concluding paragraph.

240 years later, in the United States and indeed, in much of the rest of the world, the local currency is NOT backed by metal, but instead (essentially) by the standing of the nation. At this time, the US dollar is the reserve currency of the world, but certainly there are competitors seeking to achieve this stature.

Looking forward, it seems to me that remote communities will need (and want) representation for their interests on Earth. These representatives will manage the exchange of digital “products” between the Earth and remote communities, including entertainment, scientific or engineering information, work products such as definition of control files for atom assemblers, and a great variety of other digital artifacts that I cannot presently imagine.

I am reminded of the “factors” who played such a role in the days of sailing ships. Indeed, there may be individuals who play such a role today, but (I think) corporations are now multinational so that they are (in effect) able to provide their own factor services internally.

Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

(th)
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Re: 20160413 Adam Smith Book 2 Chapter 3

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:45 pm

2016/09/12 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 2 Chapter 3 “Of the Accumulation of Capital, or of Productive and Unproductive Labour”

In this chapter Smith attempts to differentiate between labor that adds to capital, and that which does not. Edwin Cannan notes occasional errors as the text proceeds, and in this chapter Note 2 points out that an innkeeper may become wealthy by employing what Smith calls “menial” labor, by providing services. Indeed, it appears to me in 2016, that the greater part of the American economy is now services.

Early in the chapter Smith opines that performing artists' work is ephemeral, because it is gone the instant works are performed. However, in 2016, such works are often preserved in digital recording formats which stand a decent chance of lasting for long periods of time.

On page 361, Smith asserts:
Begin quotation:
Both productive and unproductive labourers, and those who do not labour at all, are all equally maintained by the annual produce of the land and labour of the country.
End Quotation.

As I look out at the situation in 2016, it seems to me that the “country” that Smith is thinking about is now the entire globe, due to the remarkable degree of integration of trade between continents.

On page 365, Smith asserts:
Begin quotation:
Our ancestors were idle for want of a sufficient encouragement to industry.
End Quotation.

It seems to me in 2016, in the United States where millions of citizens are rendered unemployed by effective competition from China and other players on the global stage, Smith's assertion is just as true today as it was in his time. It seems to me that capital is NOT invested in workers who have outmoded skills, because better returns can be achieved elsewhere.

I have for some time thought that this situation could be corrected if incentives could be provided to entrepreneurs to take a chance with unemployed workers with outmoded skills. The germ of the idea already exists in this country, where Earned Income Tax Credits are occasionally provided. The benefit that I see in this system is that work is rewarded.

The idea of a Basic Income has been tossed about but not officially implemented except (perhaps) in Saudi Arabia, and there only for members of the ruling tribes.

My suggestion is to marry the two concepts together, along with modification of the Minimum Wage concept, so that the maximum possible incentive would be created for entrepreneurs to put now idle hands to work.

The Minimum Wage could be set to $1.00 per hour, and the Earned Income Tax Credit awarded on a twice monthly basis to match whatever the Basic Income would be in a particular community.

Thus, the entrepreneur would be responsible for a payroll of $40 per week, while the workers themselves would enjoy a standard of living that would be considered minimally acceptable in the given location. By this means, all welfare and other support systems would be eliminated, and much of the expense of incarceration and the costs of crime would be reduced.

The above discussion leads me to the next citation from the current chapter:
Begin quotation:
The annual produce of the land and labour of any nation can be increased in its value by no other means, but by increasing either the number of its productive labourers, or the productive powers of those labourers who had before been employed.
End quotation.

In the present time, automation has enabled dramatic increases in productivity of workers, and the pace of such improvements is likely to continue. Automated self-driving vehicles for both road transportation and for agriculture promise to reduce the number of workers in related fields, and to free up great numbers of workers to assume new responsibilities. However, as I look at the scene, it appears to me that Capitalism is very good at eliminating workers, but for all practical purposes, useless for enlisting displaced workers for new employment.

The proposal offered above would seem capable of tapping the capitalist impulses of creative entrepreneurs to find employment for currently displaced or under-employed workers.

Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

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

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:18 pm

2016/09/19 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 2 Chapter 4 “Stock Lent at Interest”

This chapter of just 9 pages covers the topic of lending for interest, with commentary upon policies which have been tried to regulate rates, and observations about historical variations of rates of interest under various circumstances.

Looking ahead to a time of dispersed human populations, with the planet Earth remaining a resource for a considerable time, it seems to me there are two ways in which the topic of interest may be considered, beyond it's “normal” application on the planet for internal commerce.

First, there is the likely possibility that interest will become a part of the economies of the separate communities, as individuals and groups interact with each other.

Second, it seems possible that a more complex interaction can be expected as remote communities interact with each other and with the home planet through exchange of digital files.

There may, for example, be a need for a design of a particular machine that will be needed by a remote community. That remote community will presumably have a factor on Earth, who will maintain accounts for the community, and will normally maintain a positive balance as the remote community sends files of varying value to Earth, and accepts files from Earth. It seems reasonable to me that due to the time delays to be expected due to the speed of light, the factors on Earth will negotiate values of exchange. Necessarily there will be some uncertainty about the value of particular files on offer from Earth to the remote community.

However, in the particular instance of a need for a specific machine design, for which the Earth is a prime resource, the factor may need to borrow funds to pay for the investments needed to create the desired design, in which case interest would be a consideration.

It seems clear (to me at least) that the quality of the factor on Earth, both at the outset and over the long term, will be of great importance to the remote community.

Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

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

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:50 pm

2016/09/16 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 2 Chapter 5 “Of the Different Employments of Capitals”

This chapter on Smith's identification of (simplifying) farmers and minors, manufacturers, distributors and retailers inspired me to change my concept of space habitats as designed to try to encapsulate all possible variations of Earthly life in a single vehicle or cluster of vehicles. Kim Stanley Robinson's “Aurora” describes a pair of Stanford torus habitats bound together, and comprising a set of 24 unique biomes.

Smith's discussion of the benefits of trade between nations, as well as trade between regions within nations, inspired me today to imagine the benefit of launching a number of habitats concurrently and separately to migrate slowly away from Earth. Each habitat would focus upon holding and maintaining one environment, such as that which would be optimal for growing of olives.

If a sufficient number of habitats are constructed, then many of the aspects of biological life native to Earth can be carried forward. Thus trade between the habitats would be made attractive, and over time populations would have an opportunity to exchange members depending upon their interests and abilities.

One of Smith's remarks caught my eye:
Begin Quotation:
(Page 393) In agriculture too nature labours along with man:
End quotation.

Elsewhere in this chapter, Smith counts Nature as part of the labor force of a nation.

On page 403, Smith makes an assertion which I believe is less true in 2016 than it may have been in 1775.
Begin Quotation:
The consideration of his own private profit, is the sole motive which determines the owner of any capital to employ it either in agriculture, in manufactures, or in some particular branch of the wholesale or retail trade.
End quotation.

In 2016, it is not unusual for corporations to be founded for public benefit, as distinct from ones which disdain capitalism altogether. My guess is that as time passes, human culture will encourage sloughing off of crude greed which Smith celebrates.

Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

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

Postby tahanson43206 » Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:50 pm

2016/10/03 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 3 Chapter 1 “Of the Natural Progress of Opulence”

In a parallel track here on the Knowledge Forum, I am developing preliminary ideas for how a human migration away from Earth might proceed in the most satisfying possible way for everyone involved.

Smith's discussion in this chapter seems to fit nicely into a contemplation of an opulent future for the human race, based upon traits which Smith identifies as “natural” for the species.

Begin Quotation:
The great commerce of every civilized society, is that carried on between the inhabitants of the town and those of the country.
End Quotation.

From the perspective of 240 years later, those words seem quaint, in light of the global reach of multi-national corporations which manage production of agricultural products of every description. There still do exist small family owned farms, in the United States and certainly in less developed nations. Never-the-less, the state of affairs noted by Smith in his time no longer prevails at the same level, and it appears to me this will be less and less true as the years go by.

Looking forward, however, to communities of modest size away from Earth, on the order of 100,000 people or so, it seems to me the distinction Smith draws will be present but dispersed, so that it might make sense to contemplate cities with gardens as the “natural” order.

Division of Labor will surely continue far into the future, because the knowledge required to sustain a remote population will far surpass the capability of any one human being. Thus, management of agricultural enterprise will remain a specialized skill. I note that Smith expresses admiration for members of the agricultural community in his time at several points in his set of lectures. In particular, at one point, he favorably compares the knowledge and judgment of agricultural workers to the specialists who labor in city factories, due to the great variety of decisions which are required in the field at any moment, and throughout the course of a year.

Later in the chapter, Smith says;
Begin Quotation:
...and as to cultivate the ground was the original destination of man, so in every stage of his existence he seems to retain a predilection for this primitive employment.
End Quotation

In future communities away from Earth, it seems to me likely that humans will continue to share the attitude which Smith expresses, and that individuals will often volunteer to assist with maintenance of the agricultural environment for the pleasure of the time spent, as well as for the sense of contribution to the wellbeing of the community.

Later Smith says:
Begin Quotation:
According to the natural course of things, therefore, the greater part of the capital of every growing society is, first, directed toward agriculture, and afterwards to manufactures, and last of all to foreign commerce.
End Quotation

In the case of communities away from Earth, the beneficial warmth of the Sun will not be present, so the first concern for those who look after the welfare of the population will be thinking about maintaining the power supply which I presume will arise from harnessing of atomic energy on site.

After that concern, Smith's set of three concerns will be recognized as of priority. The concept of “foreign commerce” will (most likely) show itself in two ways.

Assuming there are multiple habitats of approximately “town” size in a region of space, it is highly likely that specialization of interests and capabilities will arise in the separate habitats, and so it will be natural for the habitats to exchange physical products among themselves.

Beyond that however, it seems to me highly likely that the Interstellar Radio Network envisioned by Edward M. Lerner in his stories and books will come into existence between remote human communities and Earth, and between remote communities themselves. This commerce will necessarily be digital, but it would not be limited to entertainment, but would instead most certainly include digital instruction files for manufacture of various items from materials carried along with the communities, of found at remote destinations.


Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

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

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:56 pm

2016/10/03 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 3 Chapter 2 “Of the Discouragement of Agriculture ...”

The full title of this chapter is:
Begin quotation:
Of the Discouragement of Agriculture in the ancient state of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire
End quotation.

The opening pages of this chapter recount the origin of of the practice of primogeniture in Europe.

As I look out at the scene in the United States of 2016, the practice of which Smith disapproves does not appear to exist on a wide scale. A quick check with Mr. Google revealed that while English laws and customs appear to have followed settlers into the American colonies, by 1800 in most states the remnants of primogeniture had disappeared. By the same date, treatment of widows had much improved. In the present day, it is common for assets of a parent to be sold and the proceeds divided equally among the children.

This discussion leads me to consider the larger topic of ownership of property, which is considered essential to good order in the culture of which I am a part. Because of the culture within which I was raised, and of which I am a willing part, I consider it appropriate and indeed, essential, to enact the principle of ownership of private property in habitats or settlements away from Earth.

At the same time, again considering the culture in which I live, the habitat itself, or the body upon which a settlement is established, should NOT be considered available for private ownership, but instead treated as a commons for which the entire community is both 'owner' and responsible.

Returning to the topic of inheritance with which Smith opens this chapter, an example of private property in a habitat would be a swinging pod within which a couple would reside and raise children. Over the course of time, the “owners” of these properties would expire, and if current American practice is continued into these new environments, the pods would be placed on the market for purchase by those who had accumulated sufficient wealth in the local economy to afford them. It is likely that just as now in the United States, competition between potential buyers would determine the perceived value of the pod, and the proceeds would go to the children or legally defined descendents.

Land was a major concern in Smith's time, and while it seems to me a bit less compelling in 2016, it remains a significant concern for many. Perhaps accumulation of digital wealth takes the place of land for many more people today. Certainly accumulation of objects of various kinds is a common practice today, and these must be disposed of upon expiration of the owner.

In a habitat or settlement away from Earth, agriculture will require space (“land”) as well as input sources of energy, non-living materials and biological materials. The American West provides a possible example of how “land” in the commons might be assigned to individuals or families or even groups for the purpose of raising and harvesting crops. However, like the American West, to overriding concern of the community as a whole for the favorable treatment of the commons will (presumably) require renters to manage the resources with which they are entrusted in order to preserve them for future generations.


Smith continues with a discussion of various forms of slavery and forced labor practiced over centuries in Europe and the Americas.

While it seems unlikely that slavery of human beings will persist away from Earth, the rapid development of artificial intelligence in our time strongly suggests to me that humans will make extensive use of intelligent robots of myriad kinds to sustain themselves and their communities.

Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

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

Postby tahanson43206 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:42 pm

2016/10/17 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 3 Chapter 3 “Of the Rise and Progress of Cities...”

The full title of this chapter is:
Begin quotation:
Of the Rise and Progress of Cities and Towns, after the fall of the Roman Empire
End quotation.

This chapter provides an agreeably concise summary of the transition from the towns of Roman days through the feudal period where power moved to castles in the countryside, and ultimately to the rise of cities independent of the feudal lords which led to the elimination of the great estates as independent powers.

The environment of settlements away from Earth is unlikely to share much commonality with feudal Europe, or even Colonial America.

Food growing operations may well take place in a manner reminiscent of capitalism in the sense that valuable portions of the “real estate” of a settlement may be “owned”, as a nod toward the principle of private ownership of property. However, this fiction will (presumably) be subject to revocation if the proprietor of an asset fails to perform at some minimal level.

In order for the principles of private enterprise to work, there should be a minimum of two and preferably three enterprises for each major area of responsibility needed to support the community.

In the second half of this chapter, Smith discusses development of manufacturing as either the result of importing of procedures from outside the community, or development of enterprises within a community, based upon development of locally supplied materials.

In communities away from Earth, it seems (to me) likely that there will be a natural tendency for talent to flourish as particular individuals are born and raised to be able to understand and manage advanced processes. If (as I think likely) there will be a number of units of (about) 10,000 people, it will be likely that the skills will vary over time, as people are born and raised in the various communities.

In his novel “Aurora”, Kim Stanley Robinson presumes that an advanced artificial intelligence will help humans to manage the complexity of a moving space habitat. I think that it is reasonable to suppose that artificial intelligence will continue to advance in the centuries ahead, but at the same time, I think it is wise for humans to maintain the ability to understand the technologies they will have incorporated into their habitats and the clusters of those habitats which may move further and further away from Earth over time.

If humans fail to maintain the ability to understand the technologies that sustain them, then they are likely to fall into the state of regression so often described by science fiction writers. A policy that I consider sensible to support an elevated state of civilization is one that requires the presence of living human being who can understand and replicate any particular technology that might exist or come into being in the remote community.

Thus, if a new design (for example) arrives via electronic communication from Earth (or another remote community), then this (proposed) policy would prohibit use of the design until a local resident has shown mastery not only of the general principles of physics or other hard science that might underlie the design, but the particular implementation that was received.

In 2016, computer malware is a constant threat to individuals, organizations and governments around the world. In the distant times when communities away from Earth are exchanging digital designs, the risk of injury will be magnified, because the designs will be for atom assemblers.

While artificial intelligence may well help to verify the non-injurious nature of received designs, it seems to me vital for each community to maintain a cadre of human beings capable of understanding each design in order to insure no harm comes to the local group, either through simple design error, or any mismatch that may exist between the design and the environment into which it has arrived, or the remote possibility of intentional injury.

Why anyone would want to cause harm to another person living light years away is a mystery, but the undeniable fact of individuals on Earth setting out to cause harm to others on the primitive computer networks of 2016 shows the inevitable need to assume an arriving design may include harmful aspects.

Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

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

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:19 pm

2016/10/24 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 3 Chapter 4 “Towns Improved the Country”

The full title of this chapter is:
Begin quotation:
How the Commerce of the Towns Contributed to the Improvement of the Country
End quotation.

This chapter provides a discussion of the positive feedback that occurred in Europe and Britain as towns developed and both demanded and encouraged agriculture over time.

This chapter also provides, in the context of the present series on the Knowledge Forum, an opportunity to consider how the principles of Capitalism might be implemented in communities remote from Earth. Let us suppose that the governing charter of a given habitat requires that all activities must be carried out by a minimum of two, and preferably by three competing entities.

A policy along these lines will (presumably) encourage constant efforts to lower price while maintaining or increasing quality of goods or services. However, because competition presumes winners and losers, the losers will fail to secure or to hold onto market share.

Because entrepreneurship requires sophisticated skills of leaders, even if sufficient capital is provided by backers to insure success, success in competition with two established competitors does not guaranteed the first time an individual makes an attempt to secure market share.

A culture that would endure in such a situation must anticipate a proportion of investment will be lost as individuals and teams attempt to take on established groups.

A (very loose) rule of thumb for investors in a region of the United States called 'Silicon Valley' is there will be only 1 out of 10 enterprises that will make enough money to pay for the losses of the other 9, and still provide a respectable return for the investors.

Reference for more accurate study: The Wall Street Journal
Begin Quotation:
http://www.wsj.com/
The Venture Capital Secret: 3 Out of 4 Start-Ups Fail
By DEBORAH GAGE
Updated Sept. 20, 2012 12:01 a.m. ET
End Quotation.

In thinking about design and management of long term communities away from Earth, it seems to me that in order to avoid growth of a static state of mind, such as those which have been observed on Earth for thousands of years when outside forces do not stir things up, it will be appropriate to encourage a constant state of struggle to win market share from established enterprises, and for established enterprises to compete with each other both to meet the immediate needs of the population, and to win new customers as new individuals are introduced to the society.


Returning now to Mr. Smith:

Begin quotation from Page 440:
Thirdly, and lastly, commerce and manufactures gradually introduced order and good government, and with them, the liberty and security of individuals, ...
End quotation.

Science Fiction writers have often attempted to describe communities that might come into being in the future, both on Earth and away from it, whether the occupants are human or otherwise. In thinking back over decades or reading, I cannot recall any scenario within which an author thought it worth while to imagine a competitive system of government such as the United States is attempting to maintain in 2016.

Never-the-less, it seems to me that in order to avoid growth of a static culture in communities which are away from Earth, and quite possibly moving further away over time, such communities should be established so that competition for positions of public leadership (and public service) is built into the structure of the societies, and scrupulously maintained.

In late 2016, the United States has witnessed a disturbing ascendance of a person with demagog tendencies in a national election. This person appears to have successfully appealed to the worst possible instincts of the population, and more to the point, a significant portion of the population has responded.

Mr. Smith wrote at a time when land was still both constrained (in Europe) and wildly abundant (in the American colonies and elsewhere). Land in habitats away from Earth will necessarily be constrained until exploring communities find Earth-like planets. It seems to me that a competitive culture will find a balance between encouraging children to maintain a productive activity, and encouraging better able individuals to assume responsibility for such activities.

Competition between “farms” might be a mechanism for insuring the most able and best adapted to the responsibilities of a particular activity will be able to earn the right to continue them.

Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

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

Postby tahanson43206 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 6:12 pm

2016/10/124 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 4 Introduction

The introduction to Book 4 is worthy of note.

Begin Quotation:
Political economy, considered as a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator, proposes two distinct objects: first, to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or more properly to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services. It proposes to enrich both the people and the sovereign.
End Quotation.

As this posting is occurring as a presidential election is in progress in the United States, and inasmuch as much of the turmoil taking place is related to dissatisfaction of a significant part of the population with regard to the lack of jobs (in particular) and to insufficient revenue or subsistence for themselves and their families, I am struck by the concise statement of responsibility of the “sovereign” offered by Mr. Smith.

It seems to me that successful communities away from Earth will not lack for material needs, such as energy to sustain the habitat, adequate or perhaps even excellent food, plenty of clean air and water, and various material items needed to enjoy comfortable living.

Because such communities are likely to enjoy conditions that compare favorably to those enjoyed by the upper classes in Smith's time, and to even the moderately wealthy of 2016, in much of the world, it seems to me that leadership in such communities is likely to be concerned with encouraging and supporting Self-actualization, as described by Maslow in his Hierarchy_of_Needs.

Upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg

However, that said, leadership will also be concerned with maintaining the environment, which would presumably require the attention of a significant part of the population. Another major responsibility would presumably be insuring the appropriate development of each new generation of community members.

An economy which blends physical exchange between local subdivisions, and digital exchange with Earth and other remote communities should have the features that would allow individuals to experience a sense of meaning through the activities Maslow describes.

Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

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

Postby tahanson43206 » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:35 pm

2016/11/07 Knowledge Forum
Thread: Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”
Book 4 Chapter 1 “Principle of the Mercantile System”

The full title of this chapter is:
Begin Quotation:
Of the Principle of the Commercial or Mercantile System
End Quotation.

As he has done repeatedly in earlier chapters, Mr. Smith returns again and again to a distinction between money which is falsely perceived to represent wealth, and the goods and services of a nation. At the same time, he does clarify that he is making this point, NOT with respect to an individual citizen, who may indeed reasonably measure wealth in terms of money, but to an entire nation, for which the total output of goods and services is the wealth. When considered at the level of a nation, money is only an insignificant part of the total wealth. However, I admit that until now, I have not fully grasped the distinction.

The chapter builds up a body of argument in support of the ideas which will become the focus of succeeding chapters.

Begin Quotation from Page 479:
The two sorts of restraints upon importation above-mentioned, together with these four encouragements to exportation, constitute the six principle means by which the commercial system proposes to increase the quantity of gold and silver in any country by turning the balance of trade in its favor.
End Quotation.

From the perspective of 240 years later, the fixation on gold and silver seems quaint, but the balance of trade seems as pertinent as ever. The United States has just elected a person without governing experience to the highest political office in the land. It appears that the electorate who prevailed in this election are members of a class who have NOT prospered in recent decades, as technology has advanced at a remarkable pace, to include massive automation of manufacturing, and the convenience of global trade has encouraged nations other than the United States to profitably assume responsibility for manufacture of many if not most products consumed in the United States.

Since an objective of this thread is to try to understand how a collection of communities away from the Earth might prosper through application of the principles Smith teaches, I can well imagine that the leaders of particular communities within a cluster will seek to maximize the value to their citizens of trade with other communities within the cluster. While gold and silver will have no value other than the natural value due to their properties in the periodic table, the well being of the citizens will be of concern, so that each is able to enjoy whatever is considered prosperity in that time and place.

Beyond the operation of remote communities however, is the larger scope of digital commerce between remote communities and the Earth, and between themselves. It seems likely (to me as I write today) that there will necessarily arise a group of people specializing in mediating exchanges between remote communities, where commerce consists of entertainment on one hand, and instructions for machines for fabrication on the other. Exchange of scientific information including both discovery of facts about the operation of the Universe, and development of theories to attempt to explain them, might be presumed to flow without monetary significance, but it is likely some of that information will be held for ransom by one party or another, in hopes of securing something of value.

Where I hope to end up over the course of these weekly ruminations is with a conclusion that the economy of the planet Earth of 2016 can support a class of distant communities with digital communications reflecting the greater variety of capability of the larger population, while at the same time providing a large and ready market for digital communications from the smaller populations, who may yet offer insights or achievements not occurring elsewhere.

(th)
May every member of The Knowledge forum grow financially, intellectually, socially and beyond.
tahanson43206
 
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