#WealthofTweets: Book 1.1.b
Of the Rent of Land (cont.)
25 Jan • 12 tweets • adamsmithworks/status/1353709708180410368
So one of the things we sometimes wonder about when we work on #WealthOfTweets is how #AdamSmith decided to divide up #WealthOfNations.
65 pages on silver prices...followed by the history of textiles in, like, 12? #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Anyway, here we go! #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Improvements make things cheaper—better machinery, higher skilled labor, better division of labor all drive prices down. (1.xi.o.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Sometimes the cost of raw materials goes up so much that these improvements can’t compensate. (This is why SmithTweets are so pricey. You think this kind of pithy commentary grows on trees?) (1.xi.o.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith is really interested in watches, which is very 18thC of him. They’re his go-to example for increasingly good, increasingly inexpensive toys. It’s not clear he really approves of them. (1.xi.o.4) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
(More on # AdamSmith and watches here.) Clothing manufacture hasn’t changed as rapidly, but if you look at what it was like in the 15thC you can see the improvements namely: spinning wheels, machine for winding yarn and warping loom, and fulling mills. (1.xi.o.5–12) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Sumptuary laws interfere with having a good sense of the real price of textiles. It's like drug prohibition, but for ruffles! (1.xi.o.9–10) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Yes, Elizabeth I wore knitted stockings. (You can see a pair @Hatfield_House!) but she also refused a patent to William Lee, who invented a machine to knit stockings. (1.xi.o.11) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
TL;DR: It might look like some (textile) manufactures were cheaper in the past than they are in a more advanced economy, but there's more evidence that they, like everything else, have gotten cheaper as economies get wealthier. (I.xi.o.13–15)#SmithTweets #WealthOfTweets
(Want more fun on the history of economics and textiles, to understand why Smith is talking about it at all? @vpostrel's new book can tell you more!) amzn.to/36bhDG3# WealthOfTweets #SmithTweetsYou can also read Caren Oberg's great piece on 18th century dressmaking here. And check out @AmericanDuchess @zachpinsent and @abbyc_o_x for starters!
Smith Fans! It’s the conclusion of chapter 11 of #WealthOfNations!! We made it! (1.xi.p.2)
https://www.youtube.com/embed/ycFqzNxiTwY #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Improvements make things cheaper, but they also raise the rent of land, which makes landlords richer, and lets them purchase more labor. Neglect and decay, though, make everyone poorer. (1.xi.p.2–6) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Smith says landowners won't mislead the public about what’s in the public interest, because their interest aligns with the public interest. Also they're lazy and kind of dumb, because they don't have to do anything to make their money. (I.xi.p.8)#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
The kerfuffle over the Enclosure Acts might have given him second thoughts. (1.xi.p.8) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
Laborers suffer the most when a society is in decline. But they are incapable (‽‽‽‽‽) of understanding how they are tied to society at large. (1.xi.p.9) #WealthOfTweets# SmithTweets
Employers are the odd ones out here. Their wealth is not tied to the flourishing of their society. Profits are highest in a declining society, and lowest in a flourishing one. (1.xi.p.10) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
These merchant types (unlike landlords) are very savvy, but only about their specific area, not about the good of society as a whole. (1.xi.p.10) #WealthOfTweets # SmithTweets
Merchants want a big market with no competition. As our pal @sghorwitz says, “No one hates capitalism more than a capitalist.” So you should be super suspicious of any new laws they want to pass(1.xi.p.10) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
We’re not so sure landowners are that pure of heart, laborers are that simple-minded, or merchants are that nasty. But we’ve got four more books to go, so we’ll see! #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
And just in case you didn’t get enough of the Digression on Silver (you remember the Digression on Silver, don’t you?) here are 8 solid pages of charts on the price of wheat over time. We...are gonna let you guys annotate that on your own. (1.xi.p)#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
What? Oh, all right. Fine. 🌽🌽🌽🌽🌽🌽🌽🌽 💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰. Happy? We’ll see you tomorrow. SmithTweeters out! #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
BUT WAIT! A SmithTweeters work is never done! That wasn't just the conclusion of chapter 11. It was the end of Book One! What'd we learn?
# WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
- The division of labor. It matters!
- Wealth comes from land, the use of resources, and labor.
- Not everything is about precious metals. (Except the 65 pg Digression on Silver. That's about precious metals. And poop.)
If you've missed any of our finely crafted #WealthOfTweets coverage of Book One of# AdamSmith's #WealthOfNations, you'll be able to find every thread archived SOON at a damsmithworks.org! Looking for a slightly less hashtagged reading guide to #WealthOfNations, or something to pair with our tweets and Smith's original work? Try the reading guide over at AdamSmithWorks.org
See you tomorrow for Book Two!! It's full of stock, money, and banking! (@lawrencehwhite1 and @GeorgeSelgin have been waiting breathlessly for this!)