Name the Socialist-Leaning Thinker Who Wrote This

On the discrimination against undocumented workers. (Spellings of the original text are preserved.)

“To remove a man who has committed no misdemeanor from the parish where he chuses to reside, is an evident violation of natural liberty and justice . . .There is scarce a poor man. . . I will venture to say, who has not in some part of his life felt himself most cruelly oppressed by this ill-contrived law of settlements.”

On the abusive and counterproductive practices of business owners and the justification for labor unions.

“When masters combine together in order to reduce the wages of their workmen, they commonly enter into a private bond of agreement . . . Were the workmen to enter into a contrary combination . . . the law would punish them severely.”

“If masters would always listen to the dictates of reason and humanity, they have frequent occasion rather to moderate , than to animate the application of many of their workmen. It will be found, I believe, in every sort of trade, that the man who works so moderately, as to be able to work constantly no only preserves his health the longest, but, in the course of the year, executes the greatest quantity of work.”

“That men in general should work better when they are ill fed, when they are disheartened than they are in good spirits, when they are frequently sick than when they are in good health, seems not very probable.

On the unfair advantage of owners over labor.

“The masters, being fewer in number, can combine more easily; and the law, besides, authorises, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen. . . The masters upon these occasions , , , never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with such severity against the combinations of servants, labourers and journeymen.

On the overall benefits of public welfare and health care.

”Servants, labourers and workmen of different kinds make up far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part is of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, cloathed and lodged.

”The liberal reward of labor . . .is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth. The scanty maintenance of the laboring poor, on the other hand, is the natural symptom that things are at a stand, and their starving condition that they are going far backwards.

On labor being the true measure of value and the key economic resource of a nation, more important than capital, land, management and money.

“Labour alone, therefore, never varying in its own value, is alone the ultimate and real standard by which the value of all commodities can be all times and places be estimated and compared. It is their real price; money is their nominal price only.”

On the frivolous spending and parasitical nature of the ruling classes.

“The latter species of expence, therefore, especially when directed toward frivolous objects, the little ornaments of dress and furniture, jewels, trinkets , gewgaws, frequently indicates, not only a trifling but a base and selfish disposition.

“Such are the people who compose a numerous and splendid court, a great ecclesiastical establishment, great fleets and armies, who in times of peace produce nothing, and in time of war acquire nothing which can compensate the expence of maintaining them, even while the war lasts. Such people, as they produce nothing, are all maintained by the produce of other men’s labour.”

On the folly of expecting that private business, financial institutions in particular, can self-regulate.

“. . . companies of merchants have had the address to persuade the legislature to entrust to them the performance of this part of the duty of the sovereign, together with all the powers which are necessarily connected with it. These companies . . . have in the long run proved, universally, either burdensome or useless, and have either mismanaged or confined the trade.
“Though the principles of the banking trade may appear somewhat abstruse , the practice is capable of being reduced to strict rules. To depart upon any occasion from those rules, in consequence of some flattering speculation of extraordinary gain, is almost always extremely.
dangerous, and frequently fatal to the banking company which attempts it.”

Who said all that? No, it wasn’t Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels or Robert Owen, the godfathers of Socialism. It was Adam Smith, the acknowledged dean of Capitalism, author of the iconic An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, later shortened to The Wealth of Nations(1776). Right wing politicos and pundits have latched on to the part in Smith’s book where he convincingly explains that the closest thing to harmony in any society can be achieved only when the “invisible hand” of free markets, the basic law of supply and demand, is allowed to work its magic. But the other part of the book, the greater part, in fact, where Smith explains that when custom, corruption, dishonesty and other such factors intervene, the magic of the “invisible hand” backfires, and then book then reads more like a treatise on Socialism. That part, right-wing politicos and pundits tend to overlook, or maybe they haven’t taken the time to study the whole book. Next to the Bible, The Wealth of Nations is probably the most quoted out of context book in ultra-conservative America.

(The above passages were taken from Book One, Chapters 5, 8 and 10; Book Two, Chapter 3; and Book Five, Chapter 1.)

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