BREAKING NEWS: Father of Capitalism advocates for Redistribution of Wealth!

Well that certainly is a stupid headline.  But in today’s whacko conservative mind, it apparently is true.

Adam Smith the founder of modern economics and author of The Wealth of Nations that first outlined the virtues of the emerging capitalist system, wrote the following in his seminal work:

The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. . . . The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. . . . It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

Let me repeat that:

It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

Hat tip to The New Yorker for bringing this to light.

So more than 40 years before Karl Marx was even BORN, Adam Smith in 1776 was in favor of a progressive tax code…the same kind of tax code that Obama favors and the same progressive tax system we’ve had in this great country for nearly 100 years.   But yet today’s conservatives call this system a socialist, radical, Marxist “redistribution of wealth”.  

The simple reality is that it is modern conservatives that have the radical ideas and Obama embraces a concept deeply rooted in the capitalist system.  

About Festus Garvey

  • Vote3rdpartynow

    the federal income tax didn’t start until about 1860’s and that is what liberals want to make more progressive.  Progressive is just another way of saying “graduated in a big way”.

    Your whole argument is silly and there is no logical or legal basis for Obama’s redistribution of wealth whether or not Adam Smith mentioned it 225 years ago.

  • gary

    This is the same tired argument that comes up every other year.  I think I’ll actually run the New Yorker article through ‘turnitin’ to see if it was plagerized.  Wouldn’t surprise me.

    Adam Smith says the rich ought contribute more than their proportionate share, Karl Marx says says “each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, Obama says “spread the wealth around”.  Contrast the 3.

    Adam Smith, in Wealth of Nations, was referring to the tax on ‘house rents’ and describing the fairness that since the rich had larger houses, then it was fair that they pay the tax fall heaviest upon the rich.  He was also referring the carriages versus work wagons and that that which was a necessity ought be taxed less than that which was frivolous.

    Oh look, says the New York, Adam Smith believed in progressive taxation, therefore Obama’s comment is grounded in the history of the first capitalist, therefore Adam Smith is one of “us.” (Meaning I suppose that Adam Smith was a plagerist of trite ideas and past essays.)  

    Never mind that Adam Smith also wrote in the ‘Wealth of Nations” that income tax was “absurd and destructive”.

    Absurd and destructive.  New Yorker seems to have missed that didn’t it.

    Take a read through sometime.  Smith goes on at length in Book 5 to complain of Bohemia’s 4 class tax system.  Seems he believed the progressive Bohemian income tax was absurd and destructive.

    Now what does Obama mean?  I have no idea, but to assume he was drawing on his inner Adam Smith is more than just a leap of faith.

  • The Angelic One

    “The simple reality is that it is modern conservatives that have the radical ideas and Obama embraces a concept deeply rooted in the capitalist system.”

    Modern conservatives of a certain Libertarian bent may have radical ideas but are they good ideas or bad ideas? Recent history tends to confirm my observations that “soft” Libertarianism – where the individual is in a healthy, creative tension with society – tends to bring positive new ideas in wealth creation which benefits individuals & society. Conversely, it has become equally obvious to me that “hard” Libertarianism – which the individual is engaged in an ironically Hobbsian war against the state – tends to foster the worst aspects or excesses of capitalism wherein the few achieve tremendous wealth & power at the expense of the many in society.

    Smith’s observation that “the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion” might be a revelation to “hard” Libertarians who have long assumed that Smith’s Deism & belief in the “Invisible Hand” guiding commerce would make him a kindred spirit to their own worldview. But Smith seems to have been more comfortable with the idea of noblesse oblige which is another longstanding trait of the conservative tradition (along with the Roman Catholic notion of subsidiarity). And these longstanding traits – while problematic to “hard” Libertarians – are easily embraced by “communitarian” conservatives who wish to “conserve” the health of their respective communities in order to pass it along to their progeny. These traits – among others – are as old as humanity itself

    Thus to say that Obama embraces such a concept is partially true insofar as Obama is a passionate advocate of community. But history shows that the capitalistic system has been more often than not at war with “communitarian” conservatism. Part of that conflict stems in part from the Calvinistic roots of Western capitalism which put itself at odds with both Jewish & Roman Catholic notions of community. Thus – again – it appears that Obama would side with the Jewish/Roman Catholic understanding of community in opposition to a Calvinistic manifestation of capitalism if not the original intent of the American Revolution.

    However, Obama’s worldview has clearly been shaped & influenced not by the “conservative liberalism” of the American Revolution but by the radical liberalism of the French Revolution. This explains his long association with radical figures such as Ayer & Wright. Their radical socialism is as much at war with society as in some cases – albeit through a different motivation – that of the “hard” Libertarians. Where the “hard” Libertarians want to be radically free from little or no social constraints, the radical socialists want to transform what they perceive to be “malleable” humanity into their own image of themselves & their notion of what constitutes the social good.

    Thus Obama exudes the confidence of “The One” who along with an elite few will determine how society will be organized, reconstituted, or even radically altered. The quote from Smith suggests that individuals should tithe to others above & beyond that is  proportional to their revenue but it should still be an initiative made by individuals free from the coercive powers of the state (& there’s no evidence to suggest Smithe would support a “progressive tax code” as we understand that term today). Smith’s contemporary, Anglo-Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke, understood that concept (which is why he supported the American Revolution & fiercely opposed the French Revolution).

    Today’s conservatives may argue among themselves as to what constitutes good stewardship of their capitalistic system but they remain united in their opposition to the idea of the state redistributing the wealth of its citizens.

  • Adam Shrugged

  • need to read these things for yourself instead of getting your Cliff’s notes from the Yorker.