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Dedicated to the works and world of Adam Smith.
Janet Bufton 😷 🍜 Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
9 Mar
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
Read 14 tweets
8 Mar
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
Read 10 tweets
8 Mar
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
7 Mar
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
Read 24 tweets
6 Mar
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
5 Mar
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
Read 26 tweets
4 Mar
#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
3 Mar
#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
Read 24 tweets
2 Mar
Having said what he had to say about taxes on rent and profits, #AdamSmith pauses, now, for an appendix to handle the taxation of the land and stock that generate rent and profit. (V.ii.h) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Dear readers, we hope you are tax nerds. (We still and forever ❤ you, nerds.) @TurboTax @IRSnews @HRBlock (V.ii.h) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Taxing the revenue generated by land or stock doesn't diminish the ability of that land or stock to generate revenue. But taxing away a portion of the revenue-generating property does. (V.ii.h.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 22 tweets
1 Mar
#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
Read 28 tweets
28 Feb
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
27 Feb
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
26 Feb
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
Read 17 tweets
25 Feb
Sovereigns are fancy, and they need revenue to support their fanciness. This is the entirety of part four of this chapter. (V.i.h.1–3) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
In conclusion, all these expenses in Book V Chapter 1—defense, justice, public works, education, religion, fancy sovereigns—are for the benefit of society as a whole so society should help pay for them. (V.i.i.1–6) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
When possible, it is good to find ways to make these things also help pay for themselves, though. You can’t ever expect them to cover all those costs, though. (V.i.i.1–6) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 4 tweets
24 Feb
#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
23 Feb
Ah, #AdamSmith on education. Something to aggravate every. single. reader. Let’s go! (V.i.f) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Providing educational institutions is part of the duty of the sovereign, but those institutions can be made to produce some of the money needed to maintain them. We naturally do that already, because we pay teachers and endow colleges. (V.i.f.1–2)#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
BUT Smith isn’t a fan of endowing schools.
Or at least, he has a lot of questions about how much the endowments have improved the education students get. (V.i.f.3)#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Read 32 tweets
22 Feb
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
21 Feb
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
Read 34 tweets
20 Feb
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
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