Sunday, July 15, 2007

Silly Sunday Stories on Adam Smith, no. 2

Mark Thoma of (Economist’s View) discusses an article: “In Europe, God Is (Not) Dead, by Andrew Higgins, Wall Street Journal", here

Church Attendance and Supply-Side Economics

The notion that Adam Smith's invisible hand reaches into the spiritual realm has many detractors. Steve Bruce, a professor of sociology at Aberdeen University in Scotland, says market theory "works for cars and soap powder but it does not work for religion." ... The Church of Sweden is also skeptical of the supply-side view. "We don't sell a product," says archbishop Anders Wejryd.”

Does not the old army credo go: ‘If it moves, salute it; if doesn’t move, paint it’? Well it seems among economists today if you’ve got writer's block, bung down “Smith’s invisible hand” and work-up a story from there.

‘Reaches into the spiritual realm’? Andrew Higgins takes an isolated metaphor used only three times by Adam Smith and many times before him by many other wordsmiths (no pun intended) a dimension too far.

The rest of the article is sullied with a stupid misuse of a metaphor used by Smith for something else entirely. This is not Mark Thoma's reponsibility.

Religions have always had an economic dimension. But the only thing invisible in them is the gods they believe in. That includes the Roman god, Jupiter, whose invisible hand protected the Emperor from his enemies with thunder bolts.


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