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A Comparison Of The Economic Philosophies Of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, And Karl Marx

1811 words - 7 pages

As far back as man has been on earth, he has been driven towards building a community among his peers. Whether that is a community of hunters and gatherers who share whatever the day has brought to them within their tribe, or a larger community which within its structure lie the inner dwellings of division of labor and societal classes. Adam Smith (18th Century), John Stuart Mill (19th Century), and Karl Marx (19th Century) are of the same cloth, but in modern terms their community is referenced as a government, and they each have their own distinct opinions on the 'drive' instilled within human nature that shape their personal economic theories. I will be dissecting the views of each of these economists, in regards to the role of government within their envisioned society. While showcasing the difference in views, I want to focus on the subtle similarities that these famous economists shared within their economic process and their beliefs regarding human nature.
The first economist we will discuss is Adam Smith. Before we discuss Smith's views, we will provide a brief description of the setting in which Smith was able to create his assumptions, and formulate his theories. Smith studied Social Philosophy at the University of Glasgow and the University of Oxford, the latter of which he was not as fond of. The primary economic theory at the time (18th Century) was mercantilism, which focused on foreign trade and a positive balance of trade (Net Imports > Net Exports;Trade Surplus). Around 1760, Smith was in France, which was horribly in debt due to the ruinous aiding of Americans against the British, amongst other reasons. Smith envisioned the government playing a larger role, one which consisted of protection through merchant marines, bounties given to defense manufacturers, and a legal system, which would take into account dishonesty, violence, and fraud. In Smith's government, banking would be regulated and the government would provide public goods, such as highways, canals, lights and sewage systems. All of which would contribute to the public hygiene and overall maintenance of the state, and cities. It is safe to say that Adam Smith would, in today's world, be labeled as a socialist, with his heavy reliance on government funded aid and services.
An important aspect of Smith's views, were taxes. In one of Smith's many opinions regarding human nature, he explains that the rich, once placed in a position of power, maintain that power through their dealings within a civil government which employs men of inferior wealth, to protect the wealthy lands of the rich. In layman’s terms a community with the bare minimum has little violence since there is nothing to fight over, but one with plush property and wealth, has a plethora of people fighting over one another. This is where Smith's views of taxes comes into play. In his world, the government would impose taxation, with the intentions of discouraging improper or luxurious behavior...

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