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Tag Archives: Adam Smith

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 30 of Edwin G. West’s 1990 book, Adam Smith and Modern Economics: According to Adam Smith (and later to Hayek) information about which new industries have the greatest promise cannot be accumulated in a political body, let alone in the head of a single government functionary or planner. Such knowledge is dispersed throughout the land, and is often discovered in unexpected quarters. DBx: Although proponents of industrial policy don’t realize this fact, the fact is that they...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 474 of my late Nobel-laureate colleague James Buchanan’s 1994 paper “Economic Theory in the Postrevolutionary Moment of the 1990s,” as this paper is reprinted in Economic Inquiry and Its Logic (2000), which is volume 12 of the Collected Works of James M. Buchanan: Economic theory, as such, was born with the scientific discovery of the spontaneous coordination that emerges from the separated, locally directed, and self-interested actions of participants in a nexus of...

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Some Links

Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Steve Landsburg expresses his justified dismay at Joe Biden’s support for raising the minimum wage. Here’s Steve’s opening: For nearly four years, I’ve looked forward to voting against Donald Trump. But Joe Biden keeps testing my resolve. It isn’t only that I think Mr. Biden is frequently wrong. It’s that he tends to be wrong in ways that suggest he never cared about being right. He makes no attempt to defend many of his policies with logic or...

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Our Great Purpose

The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) is the first book that Adam Smith wrote, and for decades it was contrasted to his most famous other book, The Wealth of Nations (1776). Most scholars today do not see the contrast anymore, but Ryan Patrick Hanley resumes this so-called Adam Smith Problem in his Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life. For Hanley, the Wealth of Nations is the book about self-interest (but not greed) and wealth accumulation, and Theory...

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What it Means: A Review of Having and Being Had, by Eula Biss

Eula Biss’s new book Having and Being Had is a poetic meditation on wealth and capitalism. Biss is a poet, and the book’s short essays/meditations/prose poems are filled with truly beautiful moments of writing. But what makes Biss’s book an intriguing read is not just her way with language. Biss’s poetic approach to her subject matter means she is willing–maybe even required–to turn her topics over and over again. This leads to discussions like that in “Consumers”...

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Post-Pandemic Optimism from Joel Mokyr

These days optimism is rarer than before. So it is uplifting to read an historian such as Joel Mokyr writing that “at the end of the day, the post-pandemic economy may not be all that different from what we had in 2019, and insofar that it is different, not all changes will necessarily be bad”. Mokyr’s reasons for optimism are rooted in the fact that modern economic growth is rooted more in advances in science and technology than on the engine of “Smithian growth”,...

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