Monday, July 20, 2009

An Innocent Adam Smith Charged Wrongly

Bob Matteson from Bennington posts in the HERE:

Time to shift away from greed”

“The dramatic juxtaposition of huge governmental bailouts and astronomical private bonuses in great financial institutions has highlighted America's over-reliance on speculative money-making, the more, the better, as the major drive wheel of the American economy. Adam Smith's "hidden hand," the supposed working of private greed for public benefit, is being severely challenged

Sorry, but Bob addresses the wrong person with his criticism.

Private greed for public benefit’ is close to its original author’s actual words (which were ‘Private Vice, Public Virtues’) but it wasn’t Adam Smith who penned them. It was Bernard Mandeville in his infamous book (1724), Fable of the Bees'.

Adam Smith regarded Mandeville as ‘licentious’ and his ideas as ‘pernicious’ – see Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759 (TMSVii.4.6: 308).

Adam Smith’s use of the metaphor, ‘an invisible hand’, had nothing to do with ‘greed’ working for ‘public benefit’.

Bob claims that this misattributed notion ‘is being severely challenged’. I should hope so. It was challenged over two-hundred years by Adam Smith, though not I suspect until recently by Bob.

So, not only his Bob accusing an innocent man (Adam Smith) of a heinous offence, he obviously does not know anything about the real perpetrator (Bernard Mandeville) of the original crime. So much for justice, Bennington style!

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