It's All His Fault

The following is an excerpt from economic philosopher Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations treatise, one of the driving intellectual forces behind contemporary market theory. Smith has been dead for a couple hundred years and can’t defend himself, so financial experts are blaming him for the United States running out of commas to put between the zeroes of our fiscal mess. Unfortunately, we can’t blame the real perpetrators because they are busy overseeing construction of their new mansions in the Hamptons, thus unavailable to reassure us that they’re fine, and we shouldn’t worry.

“Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it; he intends only his own security; and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it ....”

Okay, dude, whatever.

Enough of Adam Smith. I thought it would be helpful to the discussion, but I started getting college flashbacks and then remembered I still owe a research paper to my psychology professor. It was due 35 years ago, but I’m happy to report that it’s nearly finished. Just as soon as I fill out the bibliography with a couple of encyclopedia references.

Suffice it to say that financial experts agree that Adam Smith would be unbelievably tedious at a dorm party, unless he brought the keg. (“Another tankard of stout ale, my good friends?”)

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Sojourners Magazine December 2008
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