Saturday, August 18, 2012

Accuracy and Fact Checking Among Journalists and Judges

Stephen Rose writes in Paradise Post (California) HERE 
Rose quotes Catherine Crier, “the youngest elected state judge in Texas history” and it is not clear whether Rose or Crier is responsible for which part of the post.  Two statements caught my attention:
 Crier concludes, “Those who believe the Founders wanted absolute economic freedom must understand that these men never contemplated tackling the likes of British Petroleum (BP) or Goldman Sachs, but Adam Smith did when he designed his market economy and insisted that only government could truly counter such power.”'
Adam Smith did not “design” any part of what became capitalism, nor for that matter did he “design” anything else.  He was a moral philosopher and was not so inclined to believe that any person “designed” any part of human societies since Homo Sapiens emerged as a new species from several other proto- and pre-humans in central east Africa about 200,000 years ago.  Morality and behavioural norms emerge from local society circumstances where society is a 'mirror' for people learning how to behave - what Smith called "the great school of self-command" located in the school-yard in his youth.
Catherine Crier as an officer of a court of law, and presumably with legal training, might be interested in Adam Smith’s “Lectures On Jurisprudence” (1762-3 session,  which he had delivered since 1752), for which he received his LL.D from Glasgow University, and in which he details the history of the evolution of legal norms – without any pre-design.
 ‘The American Revolution, I agree was about more than “taxation without representation” and liberation from King Charles III. Britain was also going through great changes.’
It was indeed about more than ‘no taxation without representation’ and Adam Smith agreed with that assertion in principle and said so in Wealth Of Nations.  He also suggested that if the British colonies would not contribute to their defence, then Britain should withdraw.  There was no need for spending British taxation on another war in North America (the seven years war had cost Britain £100 million).
 It is also sign of Stephen Rose’s accuracy that he says the War Of Independence was against “King Charles III”, when every American child learns the name of the British Monarch as King George III.  There has been only two King Charles’s, both a century earlier than 1783 – it may be that we might have a ‘King Charles III’ later in this century.


Blogger philistus said...

A brilliant response GK. I do not believe the majority of the founders of today's US government had any delusion of any sorts of absolutes, whether political or economic freedom. Enlightenment thinkers who inspired the American revolution were inspired pupils of the enlightenment.

Many people on both sides of political debate are guilty of clipping quotes without context. Smith wrote extensively in WN about "ideal liberty" but then goes on to put his own ideas into the crucible of reality in which no absolutes can exist.

Smith enlightened me about the falacy of balance of trade and the folly of colonialism. He also educated me to the econmic oppressive trade policies imposed upon all colonies at the time. There were many other reasons, not taught in the US education system, for the revolution and the disastrous Articles of Confedracy that followed.

10:33 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

I always remember the very last sentence in WON:
"If any of the provinces of the British empire cannot be made to contribute towards the support of the whole empire, it is surely time that Great Britain should free herself from the expence of defending those provinces in time of war, and of supporting any part of their civil or military establishments in time of peace, and endeavour to accommodate her future views and designs to the real mediocrity of her circumstances." (WN V.iii.92: 947)
That should have steered Britain away from colonial powers, but they went on immediately to consolidate Canada, India, Caribbean islands, central and south America, Southern and central Africa, Australasia and assorted Pacific Island in the last Empire, mainly from "Jealousy of Trade" (Hume), leading to two world wars and immense blood (much of it Scottish) and treasure.

9:27 am  

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