Sunday, December 06, 2015

Rediscovering Adam Smith

found via Instapundit - a 2001 article talking about the legacy of Adam Smith and "A Wealth of Nations"
In her book -- which is not easy reading at the beach but nonetheless provides unique insights into Smith's thinking --Ms. Rothschild argues that Smith has been reinvented as a narrow, unyielding defender of unfettered free enterprise.  Yes, he emphasized the motivating force of self-interest and gains from free trade, but he also viewed freedom in a  broader sense than economic freedom and championed the disadvantaged.
This is the same point that I constantly try and make about Hayek.  Yes, Hayek was against government over-regulation and for "economic freedom" but what he was really for was the maximum personal liberty for everyone and he specifically endorsed both welfare and universal health care (in both "The Road to Serfdom" and "The Constitution of Liberty") and was against laissez-faire capitalism:

Probably nothing has done so much harm to the [libertarian] cause as the wooden insistence of some [libertarians] on certain rough rules of thumb, above all the principle of laissez-faire.
There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision 
Nuance - it's a bitch.

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