Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #WealthOfNations

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If we were classy and organized like our friends @AdamSmithHouse, we'd have made you something really elegant today to celebrate the 245th anniversary of the publication of the #WealthOfNations.
#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Or we'd at least have tried a little harder to swipe their first edition of the #WealthOfNations.

(Just kidding, of course. Please still let us come visit when we're all allowed to travel again! We promise to be good!)
#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
But, you know, we're the Smithtweeters. And Smithtweeters gotta SmithTweet.
#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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So, why the heck would anyone want to do something like #WealthOfTweets anyway?--A thread on Smith and Cancel Culture
1/10
@JonahDispatch @robbysoave @jmhorp @kmanguward @jtlevy @bartwilson @PeterBoettke
We wanted to create #WealthOfTweets mostly because we thought it would be a fun way to get a conversation on Smith happening and to drive traffic to adamsmithworks.org. (Give us a click and a share if you haven't lately!) 2/10
But we chose to do #WealthOfTweets rather than, say, #TweetsOfMoralSentiments because Wealth of Nations is so frequently referenced and so infrequently read. 3/10
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Yesterday we were excited but today we're feeling a little misty-eyed, to tell you the truth. 🥺🥺🥺 We'll be wrapping up #AdamSmith's #WealthOfNations with the end of Book V, Chapter 3, on public debts. (V.iii.47–92) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Also yesterday: Smith laid out the situation of European (and especially British) government debt. It seemed bad!
But not everyone thought so! Some people argued that debt effectively adds to a country's capital.
Nah, says Smith. (V.iii.47–51) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
There's a set amount of capital available in any given country. The government borrowing can't create more, it can only divert some of what there already was (to less productive purposes!). (V.iii.47–51) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 34 tweets
Can it really be...the last chapter of #AdamSmith's #WealthOfNations?

Were we geographically proximate, we'd pinch each other. We must be dreaming! (V.iii.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
This chapter is on government financing through debt. That sounds like a bit of a slog, but it's not so bad if you think of it as 40 pages of low-key (sometimes not so low-key) #SmithSnark. (V.iii.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
It's been so long since Smith explained that in pre-commercial society the rich had no way to spend their 💰 but on dependents—commerce gave them somewhere to spend 💰 and thus freed their dependents, that he has to explain it again. (V.iii.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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Today we will finally conclude #AdamSmith's thoughts on consumption taxes in #WealthOfNations.
You may be inclined not to believe us at this point, and we, the SmithTweeters, couldn't exactly blame you. But it's true! (V.ii.k.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
In fact, today will conclude all of Smith's thoughts on taxes, which we began discussing long ago, in days of yore. (V.ii.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
It's been so long since we started this journey that Smith takes a paragraph to remind us that any tax meant to raise money from the poor should be on their luxuries and not their necessities. (V.ii.k.44) #WealthOfTweets
Read 19 tweets
Welcome back to consumption taxes! #AdamSmith has still got a lot to say on this in #WealthOfNations. Let's jump right back in. (V.ii.k.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Exise duties are a tax that falls mostly on goods produced at home for consumption at home—generally a few goods that are widely used.
These are mostly luxuries, except for the salt, leather, soap, candles thing.

And green glass. (V.ii.k.19) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Fellow Smithsters, the green glass thing threw us for a loop.

Is green glass a necessity? Why wasn't it mentioned earlier if so? Is the glass green in color? It a technical term? Send us your theories! regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/the…
(V.ii.k.19) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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#AdamSmith! #WealthOfNations! #Taxes! He's still going!
Today, at long last, we come to
consumption taxes!

We, the SmithTweeters, realize we've really built this up. (V.ii.k) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
But! There's a lot of good stuff in here! So once more into the breach, dear Smithketeers...

Smith divides consumable commodities into necessaries and luxuries. (V.ii.k.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith includes in necessaries not just what's needed for physical survival, but what's required by common decency in a given society at a given time. He uses the examples of linen shirts and leather shoes for British working class men. (V.ii.k.3–4) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 22 tweets
#AdamSmith, #WealthOfNations, and #Taxes. There's a lot here. Will it ever end? The only way to find out is to keep reading!
Today: taxes on wages and head taxes. (V.ii.i–j) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Spoiler alert: #AdamSmith did not like "absurd and destructive" taxes on wages.
[We, the SmithTweeters, are taxed not on our wages, but per tweet. Still waiting for Smith to get to tweet taxes.] (V.ii.i) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Wages are set by the demand for labor and the cost of living. Taxes can therefore only raise what laborers must charge hourly. They can't go without necessities. They're necessities. (V.ii.i.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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#AdamSmith's thoughts on taxation: They are numerous, and outlined in detail in #WealthOfNations. Today we'll be looking at taxes on profit! (V.ii.f–g) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith starts out by reminding us that profits are divided into the part that pays the interest and the part over and above that which pays the interest.

You can't tax the over-and-above part directly. (V.ii.f.1–2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Over-and-above paying the interest might sound like it's extra money, but it's not! It compensates the owner of stock for things like risk and trouble. If you tax away this profit, the owner of the stock won't employ it productively. (V.ii.f.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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Ready for more of #AdamSmith's thoughts on taxes from #WealthOfNations? Sure you are! (V.ii.e–h) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Taxes upon rent can also fall upon the rent of houses! House rent isn't like regular land-rent, though. It's split into two parts: the building-rent and the ground-rent. (V.ii.e.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Building-rent is really just the profit of the person who builds the building. Like all profit it's regulated by supply, demand, and the interest of money. (V.ii.e.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets"
Read 22 tweets
It's here! It's finally here! The (first) day #AdamSmith talks about taxes in #WealthOfNations!

We're assuming there's a group for whom this is exciting. We, the SmithTweeters, may not count ourselves among them. But let's go anyway! (V.ii.b) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Remember how Smith divided private revenue into rent, profit, and wages in the first book? Now he's gonna divide up taxes. Smith loves a good subdivision. Taxes can fall on:
1) Rent
2) Profits
3) Wages
4) All three indifferently. (V.ii.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
He'll be dividing up three of these into further subdivisions, obvs. (V.ii.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 27 tweets
Now you know all the things #AdamSmith has to say about what the government should spend money on. But that money's gotta come from somewhere. What does #WealthOfNations say about how governments should get money to spend? (V.ii.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
I know the tax nerds have been waiting for this chapter (we ❤ you, nerds), but first Smith wants to talk about other sources of revenue "which may peculiarly belong to the Sovereign or Commonwealth". (V.ii.a) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
IOW, before we get to taxes we've gotta cover businesses run by the sovereign (like the post office), public banks, public lending, and revenue from public lands.

But don't worry, we can do that pretty quickly...ish. (V.ii.a) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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#AdamSmith isn’t just interested in educating kids. He knows we need #LifeLongLearning and #AdultEducation.
He doesn't mean university courses for adults, but rather “preparation for a better world to come.” (He means church.) (V.i.g.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
So we need to know how to best fund the clergy who provide this kind of education. Direct payments from their hearers? Tax? Tithe? Salary? (V.i.g.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Just as with other educators, clergy will be more zealous and hard working when they are paid directly by hearers rather than being guaranteed an income. This is why newer religions are so lively. (V.i.g.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 33 tweets
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ROADS?
Yes, #adasmSmith says sovereigns should also maintain public institutions and public works that are good for society but that people won’t pay for on their own. (V.i.c.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
And yes, this category of expenses includes education, about which more later. We promise. (V.i.c.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
The first kind of public works Smith is concerned with are the kind that facilitate commerce in general. Like ROADS. (V.i.d.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 36 tweets
Today we start the last book of #AdamSmith's #WealthOfNations.

Allons-y!

#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Book Five of #WealthOfNations is all about the duties of the sovereign and how to pay for them. In this first part of chapter 1, we’re talking about the cost of defense. (V.i.a) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
The sovereign's duty to protect the country can only be done through military force, but how you get the money to pay for that military varies according to time, place, and circumstance. (V.i.a.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 27 tweets
OK. Chapter 7 of Book 4 of #WealthOfNations is tough going. It's long. It's serious. It's all about colonies.

We can take comfort, though, in knowing that the chapter #AdamSmith says is about colonies is, in fact, about colonies. (IV.vii) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Colonies were a vexed subject when #AdamSmith was writing, and they’re even more complicated now. So, before we even get to the tweeting, here’s a link to that thread on Smith and “savage nations.” (IV.vii) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

The reason for the ancient Greeks and Romans to settle colonies was straightforward: they didn’t have enough space for their growing populations. Their colonies were treated as “emancipated children”—connected but independent. (IV.vii.a.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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Dear Smithketeers. Over many chapters of #WealthOfNations, we've grown close. We were even going to ask all of you to be our Valentines.
And we have to tell you:

The title of Book IV Chapter 6, "Of Treaties of Commerce", is a lie. (IV .vi) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
More like, "Of the reasons the Author is opposed to Treaties generally and the Treaty with Portugal in particular." (IV .vi) #WealthOfTweets
But FINE. Here we go:

Countries that bind themselves via a treaty to offer special treatment to the merchants and manufacturers of another country are granting them a sort of monopoly over their market. (IV. vi.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 22 tweets
#AdamSmith, #WealthOfNations, and #CornLaws!
What more could you possibly want on a Saturday morning? (IV.v.b) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Yes, it’s the Digression Concerning the Corn Trade and Corn Laws! We can barely contain ourselves long enough to remind you that “corn” doesn’t mean 🌽 It means the principal cereal crop of a nation. (We keep saying so because we keep forgetting.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
#TLDR on #AdamSmith’s thoughts on the Corn Laws:

They’re bad. (IV.v.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 29 tweets
#AdamSmith corrects a lot of economic errors in #WealthOfNations "Nothing, however, can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade," upon which nearly all protectionism is based. But we still worry about it today. (IV.iii.c.2) #WeathOfTweets #SmithTweets
Both the supposition that an even balance of trade = fair trade and that an uneven balance of trade implies one side wins and the other loses are false.

That's how he puts it. "Both suppositions are false."

We love a decisive Smith. (IV.iii.c.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
The trap is thinking that the country that brings in the most silver and gold wins. Since bullion is the currency of international trade, exporting more than you import (having a positive trade balance) means you bring in more bullion. (IV.iii.c.3) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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Good morning, Smithketeers! Time for Fun With 18thC Spelling! WHY does #AdamSmith, who invented modern economics, spell it with an O like some kind of crazy person? #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
It's because he's thinking about the Greek roots of the word. Oikos=Household and Nomia=Management [Sending some love to our friends @kefimgr] #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
We, the SmithTweeters, support a revival of this spelling. We're sure it won't bother any of our oeconomist friends, or their oeconomics departments. Right? #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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OK so chapter 4 of Book 3 of #WealthOfNations is a lot of *chef's kiss* and a little "...wat." Let's dive in. (III.iv.) #SmithTweets
Towns getting rich helped the country get rich in three ways:

1) They provide a market for the country.
2) They provided entrepreneurial people with the money to buy and improve land.
3) They largely ended domination and war.

(III.iv.1–4) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
3) is another wildly underappreciated argument from Smith: The commercial society that towns fostered improved governing institutions to reduce violence and increase security so that development can even happen.

That's good.
That's huge. (III.iv.4) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 28 tweets
(The Progress of Opulence would be a great band name. Didn’t they open for Porcupine Tree?)

Admit it. After Book II (on stock) this sounds AMAZING. (III.i.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Oh man, we love this chapter. And we love it because when Smith talks about how intimately the wealth of the town and the country are intertwined, it’s such a great example of how trade is about cooperation. (III.i.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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The second half of #WealthOfNations Book 2, Chapter 2 is all about banks. Once you invent money, you have to have somewhere to put it, I suppose. #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Banks. You give 'em paper money for the very first time and crazy things can happen! Like what, you ask? Oh, we're so glad you asked. (II.ii.29) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Or maybe...not so crazy? A lot of what Smith’s explaining here seems super obvious to us now—you can charge interest on paper money! Fractional reserve banking is a thing! Just like paper money, huge mental adjustments for the 18thC. (II.ii.29–30) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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Good morning Smithketeers! Today's section of #WealthOfNations is full of material on the history of money. If you're a #bitcoin and #cryptocurrencies fan, or if you're following @DocumentingBTC @Bitcoin @BTCTN or @BitcoinMagazine, this section of #AdamSmith's work is for you!
An observation: Despite the common claim that economics is about money, it’s not until Book 2, Chapter 2 of Wealth of Nations that we get a chapter dedicated to money. Maybe there’s other stuff that matters too? (II.ii) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
#AdamSmith kicks it off by comparing individual estates to nations. Individual estates have “gross rent” which is what is paid to the landlord & “neat (net) rent” which is what remains once expenses and circulating capital are deducted. (II.ii.1–4) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
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