Where Ignorance Predominates About Adam Smith, Vulgarity Asserts Itself
Wall Street Journal HERE
“By serving his own interests, as Adam Smith put it more than 200 years ago, he served the interests of society.”
The rest of the article is behind the WSJ pay-wall. Hence, I can only comment on the above sentence alone.
It may have gone on to clarify how the raw statement is or should be qualified, or it may have gone to spout the all too usual fantasy that all self-interested acts, albeit unintentionally, are beneficial to society’s best interests, endorsed from an assertion by Nobel Prize-winner, Paul Samuelson, who intentionally used the word “selfish”, as in “that each individual in pursuing his own selfish good was led, as if by an “invisible hand”, to achieve the best good of all” (1948, p. 36).
This bold affirmation of Samuelson’s, fully and specifically attributed to Adam Smith, has misled generations of economic graduates, plus other one-term only students of Economics 101, and not a few philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, and others, to accept it wholeheartedly and authoritatively with Adam Smith’s blessing, or, worse, condemning Adam Smith for condoning the worst excesses of what they believe about markets and “capitalism” because economics guru, Paul Samuelson and hundreds of thousands of readers of his most popular text: “Economics: an introductory analysis’, McGraw-Hill, in 19 editions to 2010.
The sentence alone is clearly dubious. Millions of Individuals represent many different expressions of their differing self-interests, including many that are mutually contradictory, and not a few violently so.
What’s that?: “I should pay to cross the WSJ subscriber barrier and see for myself if the raw statement is qualified?” No thanks. (Though any reader with a subscription to WSJ is welcome to copy it to me).
I am fully acquainted both with the implications of the naked statement, endlessly repeated across the world’s media and at all the conferences of brilliant scholars I attended from 2005 to 2009, and I am also fully acquainted with the fall-out by those economists who abandoned Adam Smith’s ideas on the amoral implications of the nonsense invented (not too strong a word) by the otherwise estimable Paul Samuelson and is epigones who should have known better.See any month’s posts on Lost Legacy since 2005.