Friday, April 03, 2009

Better to Be Aproximately Right Than Absolutely Wrong

Shaun Snapp writes Counter Economics (‘The Site of Investment and Financial Industry Criticism) HERE:

He has been influenced by Chomsky and Naomi Klein and has been reading Lost Legacy too. He is by profession a financial analyst, not a professional economist.

I do not necessarily agree with everything that Shaun Snapp articulates, but I think he understands Adam Smith’s actual legacy more clearly than many academic economists. For that alone he deserves a wider readership. Here is a sample:

Intellectuals and Economists on the Misrepresentation of Adam Smith
Some prominent Economists such as Joseph Stligliz pointed that left to their own devices markets will produce too much of things that hurt other people (such as pollution) and too little of things that help other people (such as research - unlike what is presented in advertising, most research is still funded by the government, private companies have no interest in basic research, and much less interest in any research they can not immediately monetize.)

Noam Chomsky, a very serious intellectual, has repeatedly complained about the misuse of Adam Smith’s work. This quotation is also from Adam Smith, though never quoted.

The invisible hand, he wrote, will destroy the possibility of a decent human existence “unless government takes pains to prevent” this outcome, as must be assured in “every improved and civilized society.” It will destroy community, the environment and human values generally – and even the masters themselves, which is why the business classes have regularly called for state intervention to protect them from market forces”

Don’t allow those who can barely read complex writing to misuse Adam Smith to justify policies that only benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. The Theory of Moral Sentiments, also by Adam Smith is filled with discussion on how to create a just society and the importance of the government to help make this so.
There are other areas that Adam Smith showed concern for an overemphasis upon work and division of labor caused a tunnel vision causing negative spillover effects on the other portions of a person’s life

Read the article (follow the link) and scroll through some of the others. I am encouraged by evidence, like this, that a wider appreciation of Adam Smith’s legacy – as he wrote it, and not how some people invented it in the 1950s – is underway and, hopefully, will permeate throughout the media, eventually.



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