The Economic Option

All three of the historians that we examined had different viewpoints regarding economics than did Adam Smith. While Smith believed laissez-faire capitalism was the best economic method a country could employ, his opponents (Marx, Saint-Simon and Owens) all believed that it belittled the poor to such an extent that it was not a viable option. Although the capitalist method increases production to unforeseen levels, it creates an undeniable divide between social classes. The owners of the companies become much richer than the working class people, while all they have to do is sit down and watch the money being made in front of their eyes. Although this was clear exploitation of the working class, Smith believed that this was the best method because it helped the country grow economically, even though the people suffered. Marx was against this. He thought that if the gap between the rich and the poor got to an uncontrollable level the whole economy would come crashing down. The workers would get angry enough to rebel against the owners and the whole governmental system would plunge into anarchy, finally resulting in the “purest form of socialism”, communism. Saint-Simon also thought that the capitalist society would not work in the long run – when competitors in the same job went up against each other they would try to beat out the other person instead of being the best worker that they could be. He supported more of an “equality” economy where the owners would work to support their employees so they their workers would enjoy putting in the hours at the factory.

Which method do you think is best? There are pros and cons to each type of economy, but I feel you have to side with the one that provides the most growth for the country as a whole over individuals. Marx’s plan would lead to inevitable conflict, while Saint-Simon’s wouldn’t provide as much production that is desired. I would choose Adam Smith’s capitalism because it vaults the specific country into a whole new class on the world scale, while raising the bar for all of the people in said country.

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

[Marx, St. Simon, and Smith enjoy a casual evening gamenight together: The three are gathered in a small, softly lit apartment. Plainly furnished and with a worn in feel it could be any of the three. They are conversing easily around a small board game table and Smith reaches down into a bag at his feet]

Smith: [while rummaging around] Well…since it is my week to provide entertainment, I have brought choices! Three classic games for us to choose from.

*the other two nod in agreement*

Smith: First, Twister! Something for us to get our blood moving. Second, monopoly! Such a classic game of chance. And third, my favorite by far, hungry hungry hippos! Need I even explain my excitement for the latter.

*Marx and St. Simon eye each other cautiously*

Marx: Smith, while I do applaud your choice of twister, would you care to explain your thought process when choosing the other two games?

St. Simon: Yes, particularly the game of hippos…this is one I have not heard of before.

Smith: [Genuinely surprised] Never heard of hungry hungry hippos? Ah well, I will justify my choices for the two of you. I am surprised you would question my choice in monopoly, as I said before, it is such a perfect equilibrium of chance, and personal choice in economics!

Marx: Please elaborate.

Smith: Well you see, in a game of monopoly, it is not only where your piece lands, but the choices you make with the options you are given! In a game of monopoly, it is every man for himself competing fiercely to gain the most capital and property.

Marx: I do not see how this could be a positive incentive…

Smith: In the ideal economic system, it should be the goal of the individual to be as successful as he can possibly be. Laissez-faire! Monopoly is the ultimate competition in which the winners win big, and the losers always have hope that they can improve their earnings!

St. Simon: But surely this is not a game of entertainment, any group playing would obviously not find any enjoyment in it.

Smith: And why is that?

St. Simon: Look at this individuals, good sir, how can the group benefit if each individual is not protected? This game looks out only for the ruthless and the lucky, perhaps the corrupt as well. Where is the gain for those hard workers who receive nothing?

Smith: Ah, but their time will come. If the individual is persistent the he is bound to find some success!

Marx: I see that this game does not protect its participants at all…

Smith: But that is the joy, the competition, the free market! I see that the two of you are very reluctant to delve into monopoly with my, so perhaps another time. Ah well, hungry hungry hippos then! Each player is assigned a hippo and the objective is simple, obtain as many little balls of food as possible before the other players!

Marx: The resources are not divided up equally for all?

Smith: Oh Karl, this game is every man for himself! A cut throat race to get the most food and outlast your opponents, survival of the fittest!

Marx: But what if the other hippos were to join together, and rebel against the one who obtains the most resources?

St. Simon: We obviously do not understand the motive of this game Karl, it is simply in which the winners keep winning and leave nothing for the rest of us…

Marx: Ah, quite the form of entertainment, while one hippo gluts himself and the rest starve…

Smith: Gentlemen please! This is all in the name of good fun, good company, and every many for himself!

St. Simon: Might I suggest we settle for Twister?

[Scene fades out]