Thursday, July 07, 2016


Mike Vasser posts in The Union (Serving Western Nevada County, CA) HERE 
“Schwartz said that the 18th-century philosopher Adam Smith, who is cited as a hero by most free-market advocates, worried that without limitations, the market would become inhumane and that the market could not be allowed to define all human values. Adam Smith said that even a competitive capitalist economy must be based on non-market values of empathy, caring, and selflessness. How else are we to raise our children?
“Even rugged individuals would not prosper if they don’t have a decent legal system and public school system,” he said.”
I criticise the errors of those misrepresenting Adam Smith without fear or favour and while I agree with the broad points of Mike Vsser’s post, I do not agree with his presentation of Adam Smith.
Ayn Rand’s views were grossly non-Smithian, and antipathetic to Adam Smith’s moral philosophy and his understanding of how commercial eocnomies function.
It is nevertheless necessary on Lost Legacy to present Smith’s views correctly, 
For example, Adam Smith never said anything about ‘capitalism’, a word first used in English in 1854 (Thackeray’s “The Newcomes”). He did write of the “human values” - “empathy, caring, and selflessness” which were present, though not ncessarily dominant, in all societies long before market economies.

Mike asks: “How else are we to raise our children?”. Indeed! But this imperative is not something new since the 18th century. Yes, we need a “a decent legal system” too and since the rise in productivity post-17th century our predeccessors began to construct “public school system(s)”, incidently initiated in 17th-century Scotland, and, later, in 19th-century England, of which Adam Smith had much to say in his Wealth of Nations.


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