Thursday, June 28, 2007

Good Sense on Adam Smith from Auckland, New Zealand

McGovern Online (‘a conversation on the online revolution from Auckland New Zealand’)

This Blogger is almost right and welcome for that too. He writes:

Speaking of Adam Smith, and his classic title The Wealth of Nations, like loads of others I have had him quoted left right and centre as being the father of small government and modern shareholder capitalism.

Funny old world - you and I know this is simplistic twaddle; that, in contrast, he was really clear that the purpose of the modern enterprise is to give the consumer [as opposed to the shareholder] the best deal possible.
Also, he was equally clear that there was vital role for government around education, and building civic space
.”

Comment
Yes, much written about Adam Smith by economists in the media is ‘simplistic twaddle’. For example, Smith was not the “father of small government and modern shareholder capitalism”. His objection to 18th century government was not that they did ‘too much’, but that they followed the wrong policies, which he fully described and analysed as ‘Mercantile political economy’.

His own proposals for appropriate actions by government were extensive by 18th century standards: defence, justice, education, health, post offices and the mint, quality marks on products, town cleanliness, street paving, and ensuring that the populace had access to sufficient products of land and labour (Wealth Of Nations, Book V).

But overall, McGovern Online understands what Smith was really about, for which I would give him 10/10.

2 Comments:

Blogger paul reynolds said...

Thanks for the 10/10 - your commments on the wrong kind of government are also really interesting.

My apologies if my remarks were simplistic - I was using the good Adma Smith a trifle too casullay, perhaps?

On a more personal note - I'm glad I have found your blog - I'll try and follow it.

I'm also curious - did you ever live breifly in Tranent, East Lothian?

I hail from there originally, and I'm curious if you were the same guy who tried to organise some classes in politics et, al, and as a consequence ran into the prejudice of the local Labour Party
The is was in the early, mid 60's?

6:30 am  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Yes, from Tranent to Auckland is a long journey, as is from Tranent via Strathclyde to Heriot-Watt Edinburgh.

Similarly, a journey from enthusiastic youth for the Labour Party to sceptical SNP voter.

Write to me GavinK9{'at}gmail[dot]com

8:00 pm  

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