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Posts Tagged ‘week4blog’

Week 4 blog revision – Vivian

August 19th, 2011 No comments

 Smith’s world in his “Theory of Moral Sentiments” demonstrates how society chooses to ‘go with the flow’—that is, the flow established by the wealthy. Smith says that the inferiors admire and envy the rich; instead of being mad with jealousy and trying to take down their superiors, everyone wants to serve and aid the rich in keeping their world seemingly perfect. He states that “the profligacy of a man of fashion is looked upon with much less contempt and aversion, than that of a man of meaner condition.” When the rich commit follies, the society choose to overlook those in order to keep their superiors on the high pedestal they currently view them. Yet if the poor do even one wrong thing, society looks down upon them even more.

The poor admire the wealthy, and so wish to be just like them. They imitate them in every way, from the clothes they wear, the way they live, down to the vices they commit. As Smith states, “With most men the presumption and vanity of the [wealthy] are much more admired, than the real and solid merit of the [virtuous].” Commiting the folly of the wealthy plauges their conscience, but they think that the admiration they will attain from their wealth will make up for it. However, spending money like the rich, just fuels the poor even more into poverty, thus creating this cycle of the poor staying poor and looked down upon. The poor follows the flow, the trend, the rules that the wealthy set, but where does it get them? Nowhere, just ever deeper into poverty and society’s contempt.

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Week 4 Blogpost Revision – David

August 18th, 2011 No comments

Can a society flourish if it is comprised of those who do not work for their own benefits?

This kind of society would crumble as presented in “The Grumbling Hive” by Mandeville. A good society needs people who are working to benefit themselves, so that competition may bring about development. Mandeville says that “fraud, luxury and pride must live” meaning that these criteria are needed in a thriving society. With only honesty, there will be no need for competition and without competition there will be no need for businesses or growth. People will be content with what they have and only take what they need. This kind of society is weak and vulnerable, it is too simple. Simple meaning that each person need not specify in anything in particular and each bee needs only to think about the necessities of life rather than the future outcome of the hive. This leads to the collapse of their hive.

Ambition and greed will fuel innovation and build a strong society because the people will always be working their hardest to fulfill their own desires. When people are working to their fullest abilities, then their society will continue to evolve and that is why Mandeville says that “so Vice is beneficial found” and that Vice includes all things not pure and honest. There needs to be a balance between exploitation and honesty. In the modern society greed for power, prestige and property makes it possible for faster computers, cures for diseases and efficiency in everyday life. Even though there is corruption, society will not fall. To answer the question above, in order for a society to flourish there is a need for people who work for their own desires because it takes motivation to make a society thrive. Honesty and Vice are just a few pillars that hold up our fragile society. Even to this day, people are still doing things to benefit themselves and our society has benefited from it.

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Week 4 Blog Revised – Phillip

August 18th, 2011 No comments

The Downside of Division

The division of labor is a corner stone of the economic society in which we live. In Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith talks at great length about how dividing labor greatly increases production and profits, saying that ”the division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour.” (Ch. 1) He uses as an example a group of people making pins. Each person is specialized in one part of the production process, ultimately allowing them as a group to produce a much greater amount of the final product than they could ever achieve working alone.

While it is extremely prevalent, Smith identifies that this division of labor is not our natural instinct. Instead, we naturally want to trade goods with other individuals in order to obtain what we want. If I make pins alone, then there is theoretically no limit to who I am capable of trading with. However, if I am only a part of the pin making process, the only person with whom I can trade is whoever is next on the production line. Because that good is so specialized, the audience for it is just as narrow.

For this reason, Karl Marx views the division of labor as a form of slavery to the individual. “For as soon as the distribution of labor comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape (Pg. 160).” Once an individual has become specialized in one trade, they are essentially stuck in that economic role for good.

These two writers are forcing their readers to look at an everyday part of the economy with a different perspective. Despite being written almost 200 years ago, this new perspective is still essential today. Yes, specializing in one trade can often lead to financial success, but is it what we are naturally inclined to do? Is it even what is best for us? Clearly, these two would say that it is not.

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Revised Blog Post #1 – Week 4- Caitlin

August 18th, 2011 No comments

Stephen Duck, the 18th century day laborer and poet gave people outside the laboring class an insider’s look into the world of agricultural workers in his time. His poem “The Thresher’s Labor” primarily focuses on the constant, backbreaking, and repetitive work that is necessary to grow food. Modern employees or “associates” as many corporations choose to call their underlings could learn a few things from Duck. He tells the story of a lowly day laborer, a story that many employees would find eerily and perhaps uncomfortably familiar. Duck’s story mirrors that of many modern day workers that feel trapped in the cycle of their work 5 days a week 9am-5pm. Same thing day in and day out, he sums up this feeling at the end of his poem lines 280-283 “Now growing Labours still succeed the past, and growing always new, must always last”.

Duck’s account of labor differs from most modern positions that there is no hope for promotion or pay raise for him, he works for a wage and that is pretty much all he will ever earn. Thankfully here in the 21st century most jobs have an opportunity to move up or gain more, but when looking at the similarities between working then and working now, is looking forward to raises and promotions employees really just trying to make themselves feel better about their jobs? Even Duck did this by comparing himself to a wide variety of heroic and godly characters from Greek and Roman mythology. Lines 40-41 “Down one, one up, so well they keep the Time, TheCyclops Hammers could not truer chime;”

It would be unfair to say that worker’s conditions haven’t improved in three hundred years, they most definitely have at least in most first world countries. But I think that the mindset is still very similar; many modern day workers feel trapped in their roles in society. Only now instead of working under a hot sun it’s under the buzzing pulse of phosphorescent lights and computer screens. Bodies now ache with carpel tunnel, back and eye strain instead of pulled muscles and sunburn.

If Duck were working for himself instead of an insulting landowner I think his poem would have been very different. Going into business for oneself requires a vision, planning and motivation that is scarcely seen by his laboring class. They work because they have to to survive. The same is true today, one of the best things someone can say about themselves is “I own my own business.”  with the addition “and it’s doing well” is even more valuable. Even though it is essentially the same work, and even more of it being responsible for one’s own livelihood there is a sense of independence and pride that goes along with it.  On his own farm or land Duck would have been doing the same work but he would have been the one assigning value to his own work, which I think would have made him happier.

Duck was born into his working class situation and though modern day Americans are generally encouraged to work hard, get good jobs and move up, many people don’t move anywhere and feel trapped. I think that “The Thresher’s Labor” would be good reading for a lot of employees to get them thinking about what they are spending their lives, time, energy and effort on. Whether it is worth it and how valuable they think their time is.

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The Justification of Greed-Revision

August 14th, 2011 No comments

The writings of John Locke and Adam Smith explore beliefs about human nature. Greed is a common part of human instinct. Both men intend to justify this less than noble trait, while investigating the question, does money solve the problem of greed? Ultimately, it is beneficial that money does not solve the problem of greed nor initiate greed. Money as gold or wealth acts as an aid to get what you want.

Locke describes greed as the “desire of having more than man needed” (Locke). Locke comes to the understanding that the world is not ideal. However, there is still a need to support one’s self and family, which aids in the initiation of greed. To justify the means of taking more than one’s share of the land, there is an introduction of money. Perishable items could be traded away for money, therefore preventing the sin of food or other necessities spoiling. “Men have agreed to a disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth, they having, by a tacit and voluntary consent, found out a way how a man may fairly possess more land than he himself can use the product of” (Locke). Locke rationalizes that everyone tacitly agrees on money’s value, so all labor that a man decides to place effort in can be traded for over plus gold or silver. Gold and silver are not life-sustaining substances thus greed is important in the movement of the economy, to satisfy our needs for items that support life.

On the other hand, Smith describes the greed for wealth and the steps needed to strive towards this status. “If ever he hopes to distinguish himself, it must be by more important virtues” such as a family and funds from the “labour of his body, and the activity of his mind” (Smith). However, this greed originates from the desire for greatness through “ambition,” which supports the progression of the society. Smith bases this greed through the natural desire for value and the associated happiness due to the disposition to identify with the rich instead of broadcasting the sorrows associated with the poor. Money becomes an aid to achieve status and, in the end, happiness. A world without greed has the potential to slow the development of the society.

The Encarta Dictionary defines greed as “an overwhelming desire to have more of something, such as money, than is actually needed.” Locke justifies this definition by putting in hard work and supporting one’s family. Over time, Smith suggests that greed has become synonymous with wealth and human nature. The trading of both necessities and desires are aided by the creation of money. The economy needs greed as a driving factor, but still focuses on the trade of products rather than money.

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Blog post #4: Inez

July 12th, 2011 1 comment

In Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments he gives us the impression that to be wealthy is a good thing because they high class has money. Smith say’s “The fortunate and the proud wonder at the insolence of human wretchedness, that it should dare to present itself before them, and with the loathsome aspect of its misery presume to disturb the serenity of their happiness.” In this case the lower class such as the “poor” are inappreciable and looked down upon.  As for the high class or “wealthy” they are presented to be unique because they are rich so therefore acknowledged and glorified. Due to this idea, in this text everyone wants to be prosperous. But then we get into Smith’s text: Division of Labour he also talks about how the rich and poor and how they are similar but different due to the existence of who has more money. He says,  “But though the poor country, notwithstanding the inferiority of its cultivation, can, in some measure, rival the rich in the cheapness and goodness of its corn, it can pretend to no such competition in its manufactures; at least if those manufactures suit the soil, climate, and situation of the rich country.”  This is the belief in which Smith expressed in Theory Moral Sentiments. We can see that the rich and poor countries  are both powerful in agriculture, but the rich countries have better quality manufactures, therefore they are considered predominant. I don’t understand how the rich and poor can have good agriculture but the rich are always more superior? Smith states, “He must cultivate these therefore: he must acquire superior knowledge in his profession, and superior industry in the exercise of it. He must be patient in labour, resolute in danger, and firm in distress.” Is this the only way for someone not born in the upper class to be powerful in someway the rich are?

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Week 4 post – Nathan

July 12th, 2011 1 comment

Genius is uncommon, both in Addison’s time and the modern era.  The two types of genius are inextricably combined, with minds of the second category borrowing from and refining the ideas of the first.  Even the first category of innate genius seems to be the best, especially in the fields of philosophy and writing, often they are marginalized for their radical ideas but as they gain supporters their brilliance is recognized.  However the second and more dominant version of genius in academia is arguably the most useful since, through their education and study of what is known helps to refine and create an applicable product from the initial rough idea.

On paper Addison’s depiction of genius seems to be perfect, and at least to me it seems like society, or at least development, would be entirely led by such geniuses.  However in the modern era safety is preferred to development, especially in the realm of technology.  Every once in a while an innovative new product comes out, or a brand reaches the coveted throne of recognition, but the vast majority of other similar devices end up blindly following after the leader instead of taking a risk.  Before the iPhone, touch screen phones existed, but were not quite as cleanly polished or as popular, but Steve Jobs used the iPod’s popularity and Apple’s growing brand recognition to “reinvent” the touch screen by making it appealing to the masses.  As the phone’s popularity soared, so did the number of copies, with nearly every phone currently on the market featuring a touch screen and iPhone-like curves, with only incremental changes on the original.

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Week 4 Blog Post- Caitlin

July 12th, 2011 1 comment

Stephen Duck, the 18th century day laborer and poet gave people outside the laboring class an insider’s look into the world of agricultural workers in his time. His poem “The Thresher’s Labor” primarily focuses on the repetition of backbreaking, hard, and repetitive work that is necessary to grow food. Modern employees or “associates” as many corporations choose to call their underlings could learn a few things from Duck. He tells the story of a lowly day laborer, a story that many employees would find eerily and perhaps uncomfortably familiar. Duck’s story mirrors that of many modern day workers that feel trapped in the cycle of their work 5 days a week 9am-5pm. Same thing day in and day out, he sums up this feeling at the end of his poem lines 280-283 “Now growing Labours still succeed the past, and growing always new, must always last”.

Duck’s account of labor differs from most modern positions that there is no hope for promotion or pay raise for him, he works for a wage and that is pretty much all he will ever earn. Thankfully here in the 21st century most jobs have an opportunity to move up or gain more, but when looking at the similarities between working then and working now, is looking forward to raises and promotions employees really just trying to make themselves feel better about their jobs? Even Duck did this by comparing himself to a wide variety of heroic and godly characters from Greek and Roman mythology. Lines 40-41 “Down one, one up, so well they keep the Time, The Cyclops Hammers could not truer chime;”

Duck was born into his working class situation and though modern day Americans are generally encouraged to work hard, get good jobs and move up, many people don’t move anywhere and feel trapped. I think that “The Thresher’s Labor” would be good reading for a lot of employees to get them thinking about what they are spending their lives, time, energy and effort on. Whether it is worth it and how valuable they think their time is.

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Week 4 Blog – Phillip

July 12th, 2011 1 comment

The Downside of Division

In “Wealth of Nations”, Smith talks at great length about how dividing labor greatly increases production and profits, saying that “the division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour.” (Ch. 1) He uses the example of a group of people making pins. Each is specialized in one small part of the production process, allowing the group to produce a much greater amount of the final product.

Smith identifies that this division of labor is not our natural instinct. Rather, we naturally want to trade goods with other individuals to obtain what we want. If I am make pins alone, completing the entire process myself, then I am able to trade with anybody that needs pins. However, if I am only a part of the pin making process, I can really can only trade to the person who is next in the production line. Because that good is so specialized, the audience for it is just as narrow.

It seems that while it can help us get more “shiny things”, the division of labor can often prevent us from acting on one of our natural instincts. I think this question of generalization vs. specialization is a continuing issue that all types of people are forced to deal with in the economy. We generally think of a specialized good or service to be of higher quality and value. For the person providing that good, they have chosen to sacrifice a larger market for specialization. This trade off that Smith wrote about 200 years ago still affects society today.

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Week 4 Thomas: The Tease

July 12th, 2011 1 comment

Labor must have some purpose, a means for an end, but is there always an end? In a sense labor defines us, characterizing our value to produce a good or service. Whether for the employee, the employer, or both,  value is never enough and the more diligence and skill we show to improve this value, the more is expected, teasing us to be more productive. Today we can see this with the growth of technology designed to make life easier. Instead of our gadgets facilitating the work so we can accomplish the same or better work in a shorter time, we find that there is always something more innovative and long hours still prevail.

Similarly, Stephen Duck uses “The Thresher’s Labour” to portray a never-ending workday to support a family by meeting the demands of his master. However, despite all the back breaking work day after day, the master scorns the threshers by yelling “Why look ye, Rogues! D’ye think that this will do? Your Neighbours thresh as much again as you” in lines 76 and 77. Each morning the threshers go out to the field with renewed strength and heads held high, work straight through the day except for lunch and occasional rainstorms,  and finish the day as unrecognizable figures with heads slung low. According to Duck, they have spent themselves completely for their work. Yet despite all this toil the master is still unsatisfied, comparing the yield of his farm to his competitors. It is likely that the others masters repeat these same words to their employees, driving them to produce more. This tease becomes a symbol of the constant push for better quality and more efficient work that follows on into today’s society. As we strive to become more valuable the bar raises higher indefinitely.

 

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