The article under discussion elucidates the core ideas of Smith’s theory of the laboring poor. The question is enlightened about the recent speech of Obama where he cites the famous philosopher. The author, Dennis Rasmussen, assuming this reference inappropriate, tries to reveal the true sense of Smith’s theory. First and foremost, he points out that Smith’s interpretation of inequality has nothing to do with the modern one.
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Hence, Smith was mainly concerned about equality in terms of basic needs: food, clothes, etc. As long as this level of equality is assured, the gap between the rich and the poor was of little interest to the philosopher. Besides, Smith had an ambiguous attitude towards the rich. On the one hand, he admitted that due to them, thousands of people were provided with workplaces. In the meantime, he likewise noted that the admiration for this social class was baseless. One of the most peculiar points elucidated in the article is the interconnection between social inequality and the decline of common morality.
Thence, Smith believed that the inequality made people more sympathetic to the rich rather than to the poor. As a result, the former felt privileged to do whatever they wanted neglecting the moral standards. Therefore, he explained one’s desire to become wealthy by the natural need for attention and recognition. Rasmussen draws a conclusion that the social attention to the lives of the rich and wealthy is still present in the modern world and, most importantly, driven by the mechanisms described by Smith.
First and foremost, it should be noted that Smith’s vision of the problem of inequality is complex and justified. Thus, for instance, his idea that social inequality results in the exceedingly high interest in the life of the rich and indifference to the life of the poor is particularly true today when people tend to spend hours tracking the life of the rich through networks and Web. From this perspective, inequality is a negative phenomenon as it leads to the distorted image of social classes and prompts people to target “wrong” aims.
It is likewise true that the unjustified admiration for the wealthy makes them less concerned about the standards of morality and ethics. In the meantime, Smith’s emphasis on equality in terms of basic needs seems to be irrational. Hence, practice shows that this level of equality is insufficient. It seems that the critical gap between the rich and the poor needs to be reduced, unless it can be eliminated, to ensure a “healthy” economic development of the market.