Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Gratuitous misuse of Adam Smith's Name

New York Post, April 10, 2005
Adam Bronsky writes:
“New Jersey's Acting Gov. Richard Codey just sent me the strangest letter.
From the very first sentence, it aroused befuddlement: "I am pleased to report to you that the legislature has passed an increase to the New Jersey minimum wage and I am happy to sign the legislation.

Why in the name of Adam Smith would anyone be "pleased" to report such horrific news — particularly someone charged with safeguarding the state's economy and helping to keep folks from being thrown out of work (or not being hired in the first place)?”


The rest is diatribe against the minimum wage. Its contents are debateable. I express no views here about them. My complaint is that he gratuitously associates Adam Smith with his views when there is nothing in Smith’s Works (“Theory of Moral Sentiments” or “Wealth of Nations”, or in his correspondence) to suggest he opposed raising the wages of labourers.

Indeed, if anything Smith was sympathetic to the plight of labourers who were subject to laws preventing them combining (striking) to raise their wages, while employers suffered from no such laws preventing them from combining (locking out their workforces) to lower them. He also opined on several occasions that no society could be healthy if the bulk of its population were deprived of decent incomes, given that they created the very wealth enjoyed by those who tended to oppress them.

That Adam Bronsky finds the news of an increase in the minimum wages ‘horrific’ is his entitlement. To join Adam Smith to his warped sense of horror is unjustified and mischievous.


Post a Comment

<< Home