Saturday, April 09, 2005

Adam Smith Revisited

I found this article on the Arts and Letters Daily. It is about Adam Smith, and the author tries to tell us that Smith was not as capitalistic and free-market as we have been led to believe. Here's a short excerpt.

Smith never wrote a word about "capitalism", yet he is hailed as the "high priest of capitalism". He is the "father of modern economics" though he would find much in today’s economics unrecognisable as his progeny . He is alleged to be an advocate of "Laissez Faire" though he never used these words and claims that he used English equivalents are tenuous. He did not believe it advisable to leave merchants and manufacturers alone, because they were likely to form monopolies, restrict supply and raise prices.

The fact is, Smith did write about making oneself better off by trading with others. This simplistic idea of free trade flourished into the "invisible hand", and gives us what we now call capitalism. So, maybe the author is trying to be cute by challenging that Adam Smith really isn't who we all know he is. Whatever the case, the article did not seem to have adequate support behind its suppositions.