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Adam Smith "Wealth Of Nations" The Benefit Of Division Of Labor To Society.

694 words - 3 pages

Adam Smith is often accused of propounding an economictheory based solely on self-interest and individual welfare,however Smith's own writings indicate that this is not thecase. Smith sees that his ideas surrounding the division oflabor will not only benefit the individuals in control ofproduction, but society as a whole. In Book Three of TheWealth of Nations Smith writes:"The gains of both are mutual and reciprocal,and the division of labor is in this, as in allother cases, advantageous to all the differentpersons employed in the various occupations intowhich it is subdivided."All those involved in this division of labor benefit fromthis system in some way. Smith goes on to write that whenworkers do not receive benefits from their labors the ownersof the land or means of production will not see improvementin their stock. Therefore it is to everyone's benefit forthose who work in production to be treated well and givenmore then simple substance, but education and luxury itemsas well. In order for an individual proprietor to besuccessful he must consider the welfare of his employeesand, therefore, he cannot be focused on himself as somebelieve Smith's ideas propose.While Smith does not focus on the self-interest aspectof economy he does acknowledge that a certain amount ofself-interest in inherent to any economy. Smith writes:"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher,the brewer, or the baker that we expect ourdinner, but from their regard to their owninterest."However benevolence does spring out from this self-interest.Consumers have needs and they are willing to pay to havethose needs fulfilled. Producers seeking payment supplythose needs at a price the consumer is able to pay.Another element of Smith's work that shows he was notsimply interested in individual welfare was his argument forthe abolition of slavery. Economically slavery provided afree labor force that benefited the slave holdersextensively allowing them to see large profits at low-costs.However Smith opposed slavery because in his system long-term benefits to the society as a whole were more importantthan short-term profits for the individual.Smith does consider the individual proprietors andworkers in his argument, but he also shows how theseindividuals work together...

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