“How Many Servants Do You Have?”

That is the question posted by Joy Pullman in her post of that title at Values & Capitalism.

She explains:

In “The Wealth of Nations,” Smith points out that the number of people under your command is a measure of power and wealth. Nowadays, the number of people you and I can “command” for $500 or $75 surpasses the number many—probably most—ancient kings commanded into war and peace. In other terms, it takes me from two hours to half a week of work to have the power of ancient kings. … Smith’s point is that even the lowliest workers in a free market are given power far beyond those at the top in a restricted market.

Ms. Pullman starts her discussion by pointing out a couple of things. My description is that for about $500 she can hire thousands of people to design, construct, fully staff an airplane, and schedule the fueled & maintained aircraft to quickly transport her anywhere in the country. For $75 she can hire thousands of people to find underground petroleum, construct wells, refine oil, and deliver a tank of gasoline to within a few blocks of her house, available at her convenience.

This question falls into the same category as what I’ve discussed previously:

With that perspective, I can hire far more people, in other words have them under my momentary command, than did George Washington or even the captains of industry.

How many millions of people did I hire just to write and post the article you are now reading?

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