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History of economic thought - Essay Example

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After the fall of the Roman empire, the so-called cradle of civilization, Europe begun to hammer its economy based on an order of priority that placed the towns at the center through activities in manufacturing, commerce and the arts. Agricultural production was relegated to the back burner as a secondary economic endeavor set for the whole country…
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Download file to see previous pages Agricultural production also required the bigger number of workers if pursued in a highly organized manner, on a countrywide scale.
Adam Smith (1776) in his The Wealth of Nations noted that it was this misconceived plan for economic development in Europe, which could have been initiated by private interests, that gave rise to widely divergent theories and schools of economic thought. Questions on the validity of an old development strategy became parent to new economic ideas and theories. Over time, these divergent ideas clashed on the multiple facets and problems of economic activity - labor, employment, capital, wages, production. But these conflicting views remarkably coincide on one bottomline: the need to distribute wealth equitably.
Such is the case with the theses of Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes, three intellectuals who tinkered with economic law and sought to bring it into accord with the rapidly changing workplace. The three lived and worked a full century apart from each other but all three saw the same ineffectuality of economic systems everywhere to let the proceeds of industry and the land flow to the working class. Smith published his The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Marx came up with his Capital: A Critique of the Political Economy in 1867 which appeared to have been undertaken to refute Smith's views. Keynes followed with his The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money in 1936 which drew its own conclusions based on the two theories set forth by Smith and Marx.
Smith represented the classical economist who looked up to the precept of laissez-faire, which believes that the economy works best when you leave it alone and just let the market forces work out solutions to such problems as uneven distribution of wealth. Marx stood at the opposite pole, the chief proponent of the classless society which calls for state interventions in the marketplace. Keynes was somewhere in between, moderating the two extreme views on how to ameliorate the conditions of the laboring class. Incidentally, both Marx and Keynes agreed that prolonged and persistent failure to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor is likely to cause social upheavals, even armed revolutions. Their views differed on everything else.
In their times, Smith, Marx and Keynes saw and described the disfranchisement of the lowly workers and peasants in almost the same manner. Smith, quoting someone else, observed that "150 landlords own half of England while 12 controlled half of Scotland's soil." Marx: "The wealth of nation flows into a few people's pockets." Keynes shared that sentiment and added that this income disparity is especially pronounced in prosperous countries. He said: "This is the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty - the richer the community, the wider the gap between its potential and actual production, thus the more obvious and outrageous the effects of the economic system (on the poor)."

Smith Economics
The whole purpose of Smith's thesis was to improve the conditions of the lower ranks of people - the servants, workmen, laborers. Said he: "No society can flourish and be happy if the greater part ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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