Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Stephen Miller, a writer and New Yorker, posts (13 Feb) on The Weekly Standard HERE
What Did Adam Smith Really Believe?
Adam Smith (1723-1790) may be the most misunderstood British thinker of the last 500 years—misunderstood not by intellectual historians but by journalists and the educated public.”
I found Stephen Miller’s essay on Adam Smith both readable and more or less worthy of being read by all Lost Legacy readers. Copyright laws and the polite treatment of other people’s published writings (to be honoured by all other authors) prevents me from republishing it in full on Lost Legacy. I therefore strongly recommend that readers follow the link and read it for themselves.
It is more than just a step in the right direction to understanding Adam Smith’s actual views - it walks in six-yard strides in the right direction.
Here is a just a snippet (conforming as we always should to rules about “fair dealing” when borrowing other people’s property:
By "invisible hand," Smith meant that people in commerce, who are driven by self-interest, frequently do more to promote the general welfare than people who work in what we would now call the nonprofit sector: A person "pursuing his own interest .  .  . frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it." By saying "frequently," Smith qualifies his praise of commerce. And Smith never endorses greed. He says that commerce is not driven by benevolence: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker," he writes, "that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." It makes no sense to use the word greed to describe a seller's interest in making a profit, or a buyer's interest in getting the best price for a product or service.
Smith, however, did worry about greed. He deplored "the mean rapacity, the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers, who neither are, nor ought to be, the rulers of mankind." According to him, merchants and manufacturers often pursue their own interest by trying to curtail competition. Smith warned legislators that "the proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce" that comes from merchants or manufacturers "ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined." The operations of the market, he wrote, are often obstructed by "the folly of human laws.” (Stephen Miller in The Weekly Standard)

Follow the link and read the rest. Also send your comments to me at Lost Legacy.


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