Hannah Blog

May 22, 2012

Musing on commerce, again.

Filed under: Economy,Hannah's views,Notes from the Household — hannah @ 7:58 am

Commerce is a peculiar entity. (0+ / 0-)

There’s really no place for it in the economist’s division of the economy into producers and consumers. The commercial man sits at the nexus, like the stanchion of a see-saw, with the difference that from each transaction, commerce looks to get a “cut.”

To the extent that our public corporations do not produce goods and services, the tax man is in competition with commercial man, even as commerce relies on, and has always relied on, legislation to make their collection possible.

Because commerce gets little notice in our economic accounts, the extent to which trade agreements, territorial assignments, proprietary information, contract law, monopolies and transportation routes are all legislatively determined escapes our notice.

The use of euphemisms helps to disguise what’s really going on. Take, for example, “free enterprise.” The official chamber line, promoted through essay contests in schools, has always been that Americans succeed by relying on their own talents and being left to their own devices without “regulation” by government. This is, we now know, a lie. What “free enterprise” refers to is favored persons getting access to free natural resources which they then take to market for a profit. That is, from the beginning, when explorers arrived from Europe with charters in their hands, intent on exploitation, they were backed up in the predation by European military might — just as today the U.S. navy “protects” commerce in the Indian Ocean from local pirates.

That one entity benefits and another pays is a long-standing practice. What’s perhaps new is that the benefits are flowing to fewer and fewer people who are, apparently, obsessed with accumulation.

Indeed, the accumulation of dollars would be much less detrimental than the accumulation of gold and silver used to be, if people weren’t persuaded that quantity of dollars is fixed. We could accommodate any amount of hoarding quite well, if we just replaced the dollars sequestered in vaults, under mattresses and trading accounts by printing more.

Oh, and a “job creator” is an incompetent person who orders other people to do work for him. We might compare it to the infant who assumes that his sucking produces the milk he consumes — a perception apparently shared by Adam Smith who opined that consumption is the prime motivator of the economy. That demanding what does not already exist is useless doesn’t occur to the primitive mind.

Economics is the science of primitives.

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