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Het regeerakkoord van Adam Smith

Liberalen aller landen, verenigt u! In een leesclub. En begin bij Adam Smith. Niet de vertaalde versie, van 200 pagina’s, maar de echte Engelse, want daar zal je de relevante passages zeker kunnen lezen. Dan zul je tot de conclusie komen dat Marx Rutte meer op Adam Smith lijkt, dan je lief is.

Adam Smith – een van de godfathers van het liberalisme – staat bekend voor zijn metafoor van de ‘onzichtbare hand’: als iedereen zijn eigen belang volgt, zonder bemoeienis van de staat, zullen we allemaal welvarend worden. Iedereen die meer marktwerking en minder staat wil, haalt Adam Smith aan. Dus laten we kijken wat voor soort regeerakkoord Adam Smith zou schrijven.


“Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.”

Belastingen en hypotheekrenteaftrek

“The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state….
The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

Smith pleitte dat de staat het onderwijs van de armen zou moeten betalen:

“The education of the common people requires, perhaps, in a civilised and commercial society the attention of the public more than that of people of some rank and fortune. People of some rank and fortune are generally eighteen or nineteen years of age before they enter upon that particular business, profession, or trade, by which they propose to distinguish themselves in the world. They have before that full time to acquire, or at least to fit themselves for afterwards acquiring, every accomplishment which can recommend them to the public esteem, or render them worthy of it. Their parents or guardians are generally sufficiently anxious that they should be so accomplished, and are, in most cases, willing enough to lay out the expense which is necessary for that purpose. If they are not always properly educated, it is seldom from the want of expense laid out upon their education, but from the improper application of that expense. It is seldom from the want of masters, but from the negligence and incapacity of the masters who are to be had, and from the difficulty, or rather from the impossibility, which there is in the present state of things of finding any better. The employments, too, in which people of some rank or fortune spend the greater part of their lives are not, like those of the common people, simple and uniform. They are almost all of them extremely complicated, and such as exercise the head more than the hands. The understandings of those who are engaged in such employments can seldom grow torpid for want of exercise. The employments of people of some rank and fortune, besides, are seldom such as harass them from morning to night. They generally have a good deal of leisure, during which they may perfect themselves in every branch either of useful or ornamental knowledge of which they may have laid the foundation, or for which they may have acquired some taste in the earlier part of life.

It is otherwise with the common people. They have little time to spare for education. Their parents can scarce afford to maintain them even in infancy. As soon as they are able to work they must apply to some trade by which they can earn their subsistence. That trade, too, is generally so simple and uniform as to give little exercise to the understanding, while, at the same time, their labour is both so constant and so severe, that it leaves them little leisure and less inclination to apply to, or even to think of, anything else.”

Wat betreft het ontwikkelingshulp, dat kan je alweer vergeten, want “countries…like Holland and Hamburgh, are composed chiefly of merchants, artificers and manufacturers” en die zijn geneigd tot “narrowness, meanness, and a selfish disposition.” Dus dat kan je niet meer veranderen.

Volgens Smith zou de regering niet zo gauw naar “merchants and master manufacturers” moeten luisteren want:

“The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

In conclusie:
Carl Menger schreef over Adam Smith: “Smith placed himself in all cases of conflict of interest between the poor and the rich, between the strong and the weak, without exception on the side of the latter.” Dus de onzichtbare hand was bedoeld om voor de armen en de zwakken op te komen. Want Smith wist dat bepaalde elites aan de macht zullen komen en zij zullen de regels in hun eigen voordeel maken.

Geredigeerd door Pascale Esveld
Published inOpiniePolitiek

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