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Topic: A good thought for the New Decade
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Posted by: David Ainsworth
Date/Time: 01/01/20 13:55:00

Thanks to Woman's Hour (not ever written that before), I have had a salutary reminder of what our life depends upon. Adam Smith, who wrote "The Wealth of Nations", lived with his mother when he was writing his classic work, which emphasised self-interest over benevolence.

"Last week, Swedish journalist Katrine Marçal’s book Who Cooked Adam’s Smith’s Dinner? was released in the U.S. after a year in print in Europe. The goal of her book is to topple Adam Smith’s idea of the “economic man,” which he summed up in Wealth of Nations with the quote, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” But that formulation does not work, Marçal argues, without the tireless invisible labor of the other half of the world: women.
“When the market is allowed to operate freely the economy will run like clockwork, ticking away on an unlimited supply of self-interest, he reasoned,” Marçal writes of Smith. “With everyone working to serve themselves, everyone will have access to the goods they need. The bread is there on the shelf, electricity runs through the wires. And you get your dinner.” But Smith’s dinner — and most of his needs — were taken care of by Douglas for the majority of his life. “Women are almost entirely absent from Adam Smith’s thinking,” Marçal says, but they were not absent from his life. Men have only been able to act in self-interest because there have been women taking care of the children, taking on the housework, providing free labor. Smith was entirely dependent on his mother until her death, and then on his cousin Janet. Marçal’s book attempts to correct this narrative by proving that the “economic man” is not whole."

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TopicDate PostedPosted By
A good thought for the New Decade01/01/20 13:55:00 David Ainsworth
   Reply01/01/20 14:12:00 Michael Ixer
      Re:Reply01/01/20 17:32:00 Caroline Whitehead

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