20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun May 14, 2017 6:33 pm

Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

20170514 Pages 819-846

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 1

Of the Expenses of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Part 3 Article II

Of the Expense of the Institutions for the Education of Youth

This Article treats a subject which (it seems to me) ranks with the most significant of the entire exposition, both in Smith's time and today, in 2017.

Smith opens with discussion of human nature with respect to compensation of teachers/instructors/professors.

It would appear that he favors payment of anyone setting up shop as an instructor via disbursement by students themselves, because (he appears to believe) this insures the greatest exertion by those who have chosen this profession.

He points out that those of great talent will be inclined to exert themselves in activities that might lead to fortune, to the neglect of teaching, if they are paid a salary from public endowments.

Looking out at the scene in 2017, as well as I can understand it, it appears to me that over the intervening two centuries, institutions of higher education have attempted to find useful employment for those who enjoy (and hopefully are good at) teaching, while at the same time, encouraging those who are interested in and capable of research to pursue those paths. As nearly as I can tell, the exertion that Smith favors appears to arise in the case of researchers, in the necessity for them to seek funding.

In the case of teaching, while I have little insight into the state of instruction in most institutions today, it seems to me likely that the performance of teachers with respect to the achievements of the students is fed back into the management structure of the institutions.

Again, working only from my perspective as an observer, it seems to me that competition between institutions is where Smith's vision of the benefits of competition may be seen today.

Smith closes this Article with such passion that I find it almost difficult to read, primarily because the conditions against which Smith rails seem to me to exist in abundance in the United States in 2017, due in large part to the decision of the Founders to assign responsibility for education of citizens to the States. It seems to me that the performance of States of the United States has been uneven from the beginning of the Nation, and the deficiencies of the public education system are as severe as they have ever been.

Nations competing with the United States for global leadership often (appear to) undertake education of their citizens with a much more serious attention to detail, and do not leave such important matters to the managers of regions within their borders.

***
Looking forward to the time when communities will be growing in locations away from Earth, I join with Smith in his closing of this Article, by hoping that these communities will NOT allow education of the citizens to be left to the haphazard and quirky or even counterproductive thinking of citizens in locations remote from the foundation elements of such communities.

It would be better for such isolated groups to separate themselves entirely from the greater community, than to train "citizens" who would then work to destroy the founding community.

(th)
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tahanson43206
 
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Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon May 22, 2017 7:26 pm

Re: 20160413 Variations on a theme of Adam Smith

20170521 Pages 846-875

Book Five

Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Chapter 1

Of the Expenses of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

Part 3 Article III

Of the Expense of the Institutions for the Education of People of All Ages

The most interesting (to me at least) element of this Article is Smith's (apparent) anticipation that religion will fade away as enough centuries pass.

The passage in question appears on page 862. Smith is referring to the edifice of superstition and unreason built by religion ...

Begin Quotation:
But that immense and well-built fabric, which all the wisdom and virtue of man could never have shaken, much less overturned, was by the natural course of things, first weakened, and afterwards in part destroyed, and is now likely, in the course of a few centuries more, perhaps, to crumble into ruins altogether.
End Quotation.

As I look out at the world of 2017, I do see encouraging signs of the growth and acceptance of science in some members of the population, but religion surely hangs on in every region and in vast numbers of people.

Smith's observations in this Article cover several centuries, and even refer briefly back to Greek and Roman times. His discussion of the challenge to civil authority posed by ascendant and entrenched religious orders includes King Henry the Eighth solution, to set himself up as the head of the Church of England.

***
In the general theme of economics, I would like to point out the recent work of Igor Teper (igorteper.com) published in the current (May/June 2017) issue of Analog Science Fact and Fiction.

Teper proposes a collapse of civilization expressed as regression of human colonies created during an expansion from Earth, after which the Earth is presumed destroyed.

In Teper's scenario, only one space ship remains, and its crew spends its time travelling between the colonies which continue to send out electromagnetic communications, implying that they remain sufficiently viable to support the technology needed.

The economics I ** think ** I see at work here may well have been seen in prior centuries on Earth .... A vessel travels between ports of call, exchanging technology in return for crew members.

This is clearly a barter proposition, and since the colony Teper features in his story consists of only 311 people, I find it unlikely any kind of sophisticated monetary exchange system would exist.

What Teper did NOT consider (or if he did, it did not appear in the story) is the possibility envisioned by Edward M. Lerner (see InterstellarNet books), that communities based in solar systems remote from each other might communicate electronically.

(th)
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