Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

It is generally agreed that the writing of Adam Smith (The Wealth of Nations) serves as the rational and moral basis for capitalism. Let us suppose that another writing came along - "The Wealth of Families." Suppose further that this new writing was not actually new, but that it was simply a plagiarism of Smith's work with the term "nation" replaced by the term "family", wherever it appeared in the text. Accepting that every nation had limited amounts of people, water, arable land, mineral resources, etc., Smith set out to identify commonly held determinants of wealth. He held that a nation's wealth was determined by the skill, dexterity, and judgement with which labor was applied, and the rate of unemployment. Inversely put, Smith held that the obstacles to wealth are a high unemployment rate and employed workers who lack skill, dexterity, and judgement. Of these two obstacles, the latter is by far the greater determinant of wealth. (The need for a labor force that is skillful, dexterous, and blessed with good judgement resulted in the creation of our national compulsory education system.) Further, Smith found that the division of labor is the tool that brings the greatest improvement in the productive powers of labor. If we were to apply the capitalist principles of Adam Smith to seeking wealth for our family, how should we do it? A nation is highly organized, and a very large group. A family is a small, often very disorganized group. If Smith's principles of capitalism are to be applied to the family, then the family must become organized. Organized means regular meetings, decision-making, division of labor, fairness, and accountability. The family re-invents itself as a miniature nation. Once that is done, the family, like the nation, seeks to expand the skill, dexterity, and judgement of the family's workers - and to reduce the amount of unused labor within the family. Because Smith started with an organized group (a nation), his ideas aren't a lot of help with the problem of group organization. As it turns out, in America a charitable trust can be easily established by any family, and such a trust can be organized as a membership organization with rules and bylaws that facilitate group harmony and cohesiveness over time. This charitable trust can then become the organized family group facilitating the expansion and preservation of family wealth. Because there is currently a great need everywhere for economic empowerment of the family unit, I believe that family charitable trusts are sure to increase greatly in number.

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