Archive for September 21st, 2010

The other things Adam Smith believed

| September 21, 2010 | 2 Replies
The other things Adam Smith believed

I keep reading inane statements about how the world will simply take care of itself if only we get rid of government. Here is merely the latest example.

I’d like to counter this tidal wave of free market fundamentalism with the following quotes by the man the free market fundamentalists put on their pedestal: Adam Smith

“Sympathy . . . cannot, in any sense, be regarded as a selfish principle.”

“[These laws come] from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it”.

“Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.”

“All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.”

“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.”

“This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful . . . is, at the same time, the greatest and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

“Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. The affluence of the rich supposes the indigence of the many.”

People of the same trade seldom meet together but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some diversion to raise prices.

“The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.”

“Every tax, however, is, to the person who pays it, a badge, not of slavery, but of liberty.”

“Of the origin of Ambition and the distinction of Ranks”, e.g. “It is because mankind are disposed to sympathize more entirely with our joy than with our sorrow that we make parade of our riches and conceal our poverty. … [I]t is chiefly from this regard to the sentiments of mankind, that we pursue riches and avoid poverty.”

See also, this post discussing Frans De Waal’s criticism of free market fundamentalism.

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The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad

| September 21, 2010 | Reply
The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad

Amy Goodman recently interviewed Tariq Ali, who has a new book out called The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad. At the top of her interview, Goodman commented, “Some might say that’s a little harsh.” The following are Tariq Ali’s opening responses:

I know some of his supporters might feel it’s a little harsh, but I think that we’ve had two years of him now, Amy, and the contours of this administration are now visible. And essentially, it is a conservative administration which has changed the mood music. So the talk is better. The images of the administration are better, the reasonable looks. But in terms of what they do—in foreign policy, we’ve seen a continuation of the Bush-Cheney policies, and worse, in AfPak, as they call it, and at home, we’ve seen a total capitulation to the lobbyists, to the corporations. The fact that the healthcare bill was actually drafted by someone who used to be an insurance lobbyist says it all.

So, it’s essentially now a PR operation to get him reelected. But I don’t think people are that dumb. I’ve been speaking to some of his, you know, partisan supporters, and they’re disappointed. So the big problem for Obama is that if you do nothing and promise that you would bring about some changes, you will not have people coming out to vote for you again. And building up the tea party into this great bogey isn’t going to work. It’s your own supporters you have to convince to come out and vote for you, as they did before. I can’t see that happening. . . .

it’s interesting that they are incapable of dealing with the right. With the right, it’s conciliation. That’s what they feel they have to appeal to. With critics from the left, they tend to be very harsh, as if they are saying to us, “You don’t know how lucky you are.” But why are we lucky? I mean, you know, we judge people not by how they look or what they say, but by what they do. And what Obama has been doing is, you know, to put it mildly, extremely disappointing at home, and abroad it’s murderous. On Palestine, on Iran, no changes at all. So, one has to spell this out, because if they don’t realize that they’re doing this, they’re going to get more shocks. And Rahm Emanuel refers to people on the liberal left who are critical of Obama, and he uses a bad swear word and then says, “effing retards”—well, we’ll see who the retards are after the midterms, Amy. That’s all I can say.

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