Ch-ch-ch-cha


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Never let it be said that I am not willing to admit my mistakes. I changed the name of this site a few months ago to the most mundane and boring thing imaginable. As I said at the time, it came to me while I was doing the dishes. But I got sick of it, it was an awful name, and I have changed it again.

The name is a reference to a quote from Francis Hutcheson, who, from humble beginnings in Drumalig, which is somewhere near Lisburn, which is somewhere up the M1, went on to become a formative influence on the thought of Adam Smith, a student of his, who referred to him as “the never to be forgotten Dr. Hutcheson.”  In his superb account of the role of classical political economists in primitive accumulation, The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation, Michael Perelman cites Hutcheson as follows:

“If a people have not acquired an habit of industry, the cheapness of all the necessaries of life encourages sloth. The best remedy is to raise the demand for all necessaries….Sloth should be punished by temporary servitude at least.”

Perelman assesses:

The menacing “at least” in this citation suggests that the never-to-be-forgotten professor might have had even sterner medicine in mind than mere temporary servitude. What else might the good doctor recommend to earnest students of moral philosophy in the event that temporary servitude proved inadequate in shunting people off to the workplace?

This attitude, of course, is not unique to classical political economy. We might ask, was there ever a nation in which the rich found the poor to be sufficiently industrious?

Quite.

I have shamelessly plundered Perelman’s book for my tagline too. It is a quote from John Bellers, the ‘famed Quaker philanthropist’, who remarked that “Our Forests and great Commons (make the Poor that are upon them too much like the Indians) being a hindrance to Industry, and are Nurseries of Idleness and Insolence”.

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