Yesterday #AdamSmith outlined the first duty of the sovereign—protecting the nation from attack. The second duty of the sovereign is protecting individuals from each other aka administering justice. (V.i.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Just as defense gets more complicated and expensive as societies develop, so does the process of administering justice. (V.i.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
In nations of hunters, where there is little private property, there’s little need for complex justice. We may do violence to each other out of anger or other passions, but we really don’t give in to that very often. (V.i.b.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith isn’t giving us a story that’s idyllic OR one that’s a war of all against all. There’s less stuff to fight over in nations with less property, so there’s less fighting. (V.i.b.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Add more stuff and you get more conflict and more temptation to exercise our greed and laziness by taking stuff we didn’t work for. (V.i.b.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Because we all want to keep all the stuff we have, but we are all outnumbered by people who want to take the stuff we have, we need a justice system.

And introducing a justice system means that you’re introducing hierarchy. (V.i.b.3) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
(Smith says hierarchy or subordination gradually grows up over time as a natural adjunct to the growth of property. And okay, public choice hadn’t been invented yet, but Smith knew that power is really good at preserving itself.) (V.i.b.3) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
We seem naturally attracted to certain kinds of qualities in leaders: personal qualities of body, mind, and spirit; age and experience; wealth; family background. (V.i.b.4–8) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Personal qualities are a little too subjective to make them a convenient thing on which to base a hierarchy.
(Besides, the bathing suit competition just gets awkward.)
Age is less subjective.
(But equally awkward in a bikini) (V.i.b.5–6) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Wealth is the greatest influence on hierarchy in less developed countries because the differences in fortune are so great and there’s not a lot to buy with your wealth other than the loyalty of others. (V.i.b.7) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Once there’s stuff to shop for, we’d rather go to Target than maintain bands of loyal retainers.
Heck, even Canadian Tire. (V.i.b.7) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
This doesn’t mean wealth has no influence in developed societies. (#CaptainObvious: It does.)
In fact, the excessive influence of wealth is the “constant complaint” in any society with any inequality. (V.i.b.7) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
But, Smith says, this is the price we pay for not having universal poverty. Once anyone gets wealth, inequality develops and some people have undue influence.
(That’s why it’s important to enable everyone to get better off.) (V.i.b.7) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Superiority of birth is a kind of hierarchy that arises only in developed nations because it comes from inequality of fortune over generations.
All families are equally ancient, but not all families are equally anciently wealthy. (V.i.b.8) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
We just don’t respect new authority like we do established authority.
(We ❤ the word “upstart.”
Does anyone else think Smith is thinking of #Shakespeare being called an “upstart crow” by a jealous fellow playwright?
Just us?) (V.i.b.8)
#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
It’s not clear whether Smith is praising a hierarchy of birth or just describing it.
He’s pretty clear that illustrious families are not illustrious entirely because of the “inheritance of wisdom and virtue”, though. (V.i.b.9) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
This means that, really, judicial authority is gained by some combination of birth and fortune.

#TLDR: You don’t get judicial authority until you have property that people want to protect. (V.i.b.12) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
So public choice wasn’t a thing yet, but Smith isn’t an idiot: “The rich, in particular, are necessarily interested to support that order of things which can alone secure them in the possession of their advantages.” (V.i.b.12) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
That means that civil government is “instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor” or the defense of those who have property against those who have none. (V.i.b.12) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Beyond that, instead of costing the sovereign anything, administering justice was—for a long time—a source of revenue!
People who want justice are always willing to pay for it. (Especially if they get to define it, too.) (V.i.b.13) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
And beyond even that, the administration of justice (can we put "justice" in scare quotes yet?) become subservient to the collection of revenue.
That produced gross abuses. (So if you’re getting mad, Smith is right there with you.) (V.i.b.14) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Wealthy people who applied for "justice" “with a large present in hand” got something more than justice, while those with less to offer as a “present” got less than justice. Delays were engineered in order to get more “presents.” (V.i.b14) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Do you want a Magna Carta? Because this is how you get a Magna Carta. (V.i.b.14) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
And who the heck was going to call the sovereign to account?
Smith might have quoted Lady #Macbeth, “What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?” #WeWarnedYouWeHaveALitDegree (V.i.b.15–16) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Once you move from tribute to taxes, and once judges start to get salaries, you can start to talk about administering justice for free, and you can remove some abuses. (V.i.b.17) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
But let’s not kid ourselves, justice isn’t free anywhere. You have to pay lawyers or they won’t perform well, for starters. (V.i.b.18) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Judges don’t have to be paid as much because the job gets them so much respect. (V.i.b.19) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith has a plan for rolling all court costs into a single fee, paid in advance, distributed to judges after the case is decided.
This is based on how they were doing it in France, so here’s one time when Smith praises France. Take note! (V.i.b.20)
#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
And now...a brief history of the courts of England:

There were a lot of them. (V.i.b.21) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
We love how Smith suggests that a stamp duty might help defray court costs and then instantly starts to troubleshoot it because he knows how people do. Temptation inspires corruption, folks. (V.i.b.22) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
But no matter how we fund the administration of justice, the sovereign shouldn’t fund it.
There should be another way—rents, interest from a fund, something. (V.i.b.23) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Administration of justice must be separate from the sovereign. Otherwise the sovereign won’t have time to do anything else and we sacrifice justice to political expediency. [We, the SmithTweeters, would have put the second part first.] (V.i.b.24–25) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
We cannot and must not sacrifice justice to political expediency and political interests because the liberty of every individual depends on impartially administered justice.
(Man, do we love this part.) (V.i.b.25) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
A separate and independent judiciary is a basic requirement for the individual to feel secure in the possession of every right which belongs to him.
#AdamSmith out.
SmithTweeters out.
How can we follow that? Find out tomorrow! (V.i.b.25) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with @AdamSmithWorks

@AdamSmithWorks Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @adamsmithworks

22 Feb
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
20 Feb
Today we start the last book of #AdamSmith's #WealthOfNations.


#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
19 Feb
Remember how #AdamSmith was going to explain the Mercantile and Agricultural systems? After 230 pages on the Mercantile system it’s finally time for the Agricultural! ...which gets 25 pages. (IV.ix) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
He’s got a pretty good reason for keeping this brief: A national political economy based entirely on agriculture has never existed except in the minds of French philosophers. Why spend a lot of time on it? (IV.ix.1–2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
The French philosophers were 😍 with the idea of a purely agricultural system because of the favoritism shown to a purely mercantile system under Louis XIV and his minister Colbert. But both systems were out of balance.(IV.ix.3–4) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 38 tweets
18 Feb
We made it, everyone! It's the conclusion of the discussion of the mercantile system! (IV.viii.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
The mercantile system tries to maintain the “balance of trade” by encouraging exports and discouraging imports. Counterintuively, sometimes that's done by encouraging imports. (IV.viii.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Manufacturers demand that their inputs be imported without duties or with bounties. Smith thinks that's a great start, but they should eliminate all duty on manufacturing imports, not just the ones demanded by the manufacturers. (IV.viii.2–3) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 26 tweets
17 Feb
It's been a whole day since we tweeted Part 2 of this chapter, so let us remind you: #AdamSmith just said that the colonies got nothing that helped them succeed from the mother country. (IV.vii.c) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
So these two opening sentences are pretty heckin’ sarcastic:
Now we've seen the great advantages the colonies got (they got nothing!) (IV.vii.c.1)
So what have been the great advantages to Europe! (IV.vii.c.2)

Seems like there’s a...tone there. #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Europeans buy goods from America, and Americans buy European goods as well. Even countries that don’t trade directly with America have benefited. (IV.vii.c.3–8) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 28 tweets
16 Feb
In yesterday’s discussion of colonies, #AdamSmith was really good on a lot of issues—particularly on condemning murdering Indigenous people, despoiling colonies in search of gold that ain't there, and then pretending you're doing it all for God. #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Today, Smithketeers, will not be such a feel-good day. You will not be heartened. You might want to pour a cup of tea. Or something much stronger. #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith starts by noting that the colonies of developed nations where the “natives easily give place to the new settlers” get rich and cultured faster than anywhere else.

That phrase “give place to” cloaks a lot of horrors. (IV.vii.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 33 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!