Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A New Reader, Perhaps?

MSR (Owings Mill, Maryland) HERE:

MSR posts twice in response to Lost Legacy’s post: 12 January: “Corporate Capitalism and Legislative Interests

Adam Smith redux

Gavin Kennedy at Adam Smith's Lost Legacy, a site I was unfamiliar with but which, based on my short perusal so far, is a site well worth reading, has a comment on my earlier post about Adam Smith. Gavin's comments are correct, I agree with what he has to say, although I believe that my main point still holds.

Basically, the passage I quoted went on at some length to the effect that the merchant and manufacturer are much better situated in knowledge and experience than are either the laborer or the country farmer to manipulate government policy to his or her advantage. Gavin's point was that while that was perhaps quite true in Smith's day, it is much less so today. All three of Smith's orders of men are today quite savvy at manipulating government policy to their advantage.

I did not mean to suggest that the merchant's and manufacturers still have that advantage as a general rule. My intended points were two fold. One point was that Smith's claim that the interests of the merchant and manufacturer are more often than not at odds with the interests of society as a whole and the general welfare of the nation. Adopting the policies and proposals of this order of men and women without very careful scrutiny is as foolish a move today as it was in Smith's time.

Yet we have spent much of the past eight years doing exactly this foolish thing. Secondly, I wanted to advance Smith's other point that the proposals of the merchant and manufacturing class should be met with long study, close scrutiny and a healthy dose of skepticism. I would agree with Gavin's commentary to the extent of saying that the important practice is to address all proposals from any part of society with a healthy dose of critical review


I mentioned earlier that I liked the blog "Adam Smith's Lost Legacy" and I do. For example, I came across the following post wherein Gavin Kennedy argues for one of my preferred changes to the tax code. Gavin is writing about the UK tax system specifically, but the same principal applies to the US standard deduction. I believe that tax cuts should be considered, even in this time of recession, but the appropriate form of those cuts is an increase in the standard deduction. Get folks at the lower end of the income distribution off the income tax rolls. Such tax cuts would be a stimulant to the economy. When tax cuts are discussed it seems to me that the only form of cuts considered are changes in the tax rates. But a rise in the standard deduction should be a part of any progressive policy proposal.”

Yes, a clarification between friends is always helpful for civil discourse...



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