Monday, June 25, 2007

More Confusion from the Geographically Challenged

Bill McKibbens in his Blog, More Deliberate Every Day
Writes a ‘Third Post’ on 23 June in a mini-series he is running called ‘Deep Economy’, in which this gem appears:

“. . . Adam Smith, watching the butchers and bakers of his English village making each other richer through the invisible hand of economic exchange, never imagined that the skids would be so thoroughly greased.”

Apparently ‘Deep Economy’ is not researched ‘deep’ enough, which is odd, given that it is written with all the certainties of someone claiming to know what he is talking about.

Memo to Bill McKibbens: Adam Smith was Scottish not English. He wrote Wealth Of Nations between 1762 and 1773 in France and Scotland, not England (except, possibly for some ‘up-to-date’ notes in Book IV to accommodate comments on the 1776 rebellion in the British colonies of America).

He did not have an English village which he could call ‘his’ own.

Whatever else the benefits of the exchanges between the ‘butchers and bakers’ and their customers (er, what happened to the Brewers?) they didn’t get ‘richer through the invisible hand of economic exchange’ (whatever that means).

The first three chapters discussing the customer's exchange with the ‘butchers, brewers, and bakers’ were definitely written sometime before these lectures were given in 1762-3 in the University of Glasgow (Scotland!), according to notes published by anonymous students in Lectures in Jurisprudence ([1762-4], 1977, Oxford University Press and Liberty Fund, Indiana).

If anywhere, the imaginary ‘village’ was in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland and nowhere near England.

Those confusing Scotland with England are clearly geographically challenged.


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