Adam Smith complained in The Wealth of Nations that many people confused money with wealth: Is this accurate?
Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations
1. Does a junk dealer contribute to GDP? What about a fine-antique dealer? How? Why?
2. During the most recent recession—the so-called Great Recession—the United States government increased the amount of time an individual was eligible for unemployment benefits from a maximum of 26 weeks to a maximum of 99 weeks. How is this likely to change the incentives facing the unemployed? (To be eligible for unemployment benefits, one must be “looking for work” and not have refused “suitable work”) What might this do to the unemployment rate measured in the economy in general?
3. Today, most of our monetary transactions are done with plastic or via bank apps, all of which are easily tracked. Even craft vendors at small town festivals use apps on their smart phones and tablets to accept cashless payments. Some argue that actual bills and coins are no longer necessary in today’s world except in cases where illegal goods and services are being exchanged. Do you agree or disagree with this? Could our society be cashless? How could you give your niece $25 for her birthday? What behaviors would have to change for that to occur? Who would resist, and why? Who would benefit? What would the risks and/or rewards be of be cashless?
4. Adam Smith complained in The Wealth of Nations that many people confused money with wealth. Is this accurate?
A. Doesn’t a person’s wealth increase when he or she acquires more money?
B. If any one person’s wealth increases when he or she acquires more money, doesn’t it follow logically that more money for everyone means more wealth for everyone?
C. What would happen if the government of India tackled the problem of poverty by printing more rupees and distributing them generously to the poorest people in the country?