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Jul-12-2006 09:57printcomments

Adam Smith Dead-Right;
But Corporate Corruption
Distorts Care-Filled Approach

Philosopher-Economist Built Concept On Cooperation

Many believe Adam Smith's values far more closely matched the aspirations of early Americans than leaders of today
Photo courtesy:

(SALEM) - Famed for his “invisible hand” concept creating “great good out of much greed”, Adam Smith has been the mighty mogul of “free-market” economics ever since 1776.

His revelatory summary of trading transactions, tracing now-common/sense understandings of trading motivations and sales management, was one of the first to trace the fundamental economic mechanism.

He helped shape our Revolution, with market-approach markedly contributing as we cleared an open continent, crossed it with railroads, and moved a huge new agricultural surplus to feed the world.

Continental consequences in turn shaped American national development into the world’s greatest producer of consumable and industrial goods, moved freely everywhere via open-market modes.

Shaping trades into sales into solid satisfactions for everyone, while making sure neither seller nor buyer gets badly bruised, is neither simple nor easy.

Smith built in extremely essential operational-steps for profound protections --malignly misinterpreted, denied-and-defied ever since, especially by corporate corruption caused by manager dereliction to pay off personal interests vs rapidly-separated ownership.

Smith’s first work was “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”; he lays out moral and religious-derived assertions which surround and sometimes overwhelm statements made in “The Wealth of Nations”.

His unmistakable emphasis is on very conscientious care and concern, with a striking cooperative approach to action for the best interests of all concerned -- a fundamental departure from the rough-world cut-throat competition of “Wealth”.

That’s WHY “Wealth” is always the ONLY one ever cited in strong defense always generated for the “free markets” principle; thus distorting and/or perverting what Adam Smith REALLY stated.

(Documentation in depth available on request, including content of both Smith-works cited in authoritative editions.)

Nowadays corporate confluence-combinations force further consolidation, distorting and damaging Smith’s original clear design --at the very considerable and multiplying costs for community and commonweal everywhere.

Continuing contempt for the concept itself is most strongly demonstrated by Enron manipulation of ostensibly “free and competitive” markets for electricity in California; not the first nor by any means the only such contempt-demonstration !!

(Many more are citable from the public record, and further documentation on request, withheld here by enforced space-limit.)

With legally-proven manipulative operations, Enron led the most notable example of malign corporate power applied to complex market mechanisms set up to protect consumers.

PGE was then owned by Enron; some manipulations involved took place right here in Oregon.

Many in Oregon still suffer costly loss due to unwitting “contributions” made by Enron’s absorption of taxes-paid on electric-energy bills--but never disgorged to government agencies.

Numerous other examples exist in Wall Street itself, through every facet of finance in the nation, down to grocery markets; most highly obvious to all via every monstrous WalMart mall-store mangling any business-flow for any and all local “competitors”; who then find themselves compelled to “compete” with huge WalMart purchase-power; applied to every producer of every product anyone can sell.

WalMart even muscles product-suppliers to oversee and “manage” some store-sections, simply saving further costs while multiplying WalMart control --obviously distorting, if not destroying, the original Smith conception of the “free” (!) market.

(Many other striking examples are contained in documentation available on request.)

Sounds silly now to say that profit procured “off the top” somehow provides by mystical process the only proper gain for any entrepreneur-- while still promoting prime-good for the purchaser --right ?

That “invisible hand” a bit too much like the magician’s trick disappearing the dollars right out of an opened wallet - right ??

But Adam Smith had it dead-right, early on, proven ever since over two centuries and worldwide, at every level, and involving every activity including the professions and specialties where the principles he perceived and reported can be shown to operate fully and honestly -- when protected from distortion and perversion for private profit ONLY.

The open market pattern provides extreme opportunity for both partners in the process; BUT only if --and just so long !-- as that process proceeds with essential provisions Smith stated from the start.

Like corporation charter provisions, which built that strong box within which a deeply-distrusted English-format feared by our Founders was first allowed to operate; then, only in the public interest, ironically; that simple start has now been exploited into a potent and patent weapon for overwhelming all in its path: The “ostensible-person” corporation, flush with “campaign contributions” -- ostensibly protecting First Amendment rights sacred to democracy.

Enron and other demonstrated corrupt-corporation impacts prove the point primarily made by Smith in his two major works:

This IS a world where cooperation and care and concern for others is the norm and the necessary attitude; if we are all to move any closer to that principle of the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence.


Internal Comments are Closed on this story.

re Cordell July 30, 2006 6:07 pm (Pacific time)

Yes, while the founding fathers did some great things let's remember Washington didn't have wooden teeth, he had teeth taken from his slaves.

Cordell LeFaire July 14, 2006 10:41 am (Pacific time)

The author makes valid points and is a skillful writer. Don't forget that our wonderful "Founding Fathers" had slaves, treated their wives like chattel, had indentured servants (white people). Don't be so nostalgic about people who lived over two hundred years ago. Remember they were born just a little north of Witch Burning! Pure capitalism kills and cares nothing about the health or well being of it's members. This notion of treating capitalism as a pure and true religion is beyond blind. We need government to help the old, disabled, and disenfranchised (among innumerable unfortunates like Katrina victims and the chronic unemployable.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


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