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December 20, 2004

Destructive Intellectual Theology and the Thought of Adam Smith

I go to Left2Right, and leave it cranky and annoyed. I am cranky and annoyed because Don Herzog lines up six quotations from Adam Smith's Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations:

Left2Right: market fundamentalism: Okay, gang, quiz time. (Look, no moaning. You're reading a blog written by professors. What did you expect?) Identify the authors of these snippets. Using Google is cheating and will be savagely punished:

Vanity drives the struggle for wealth. The rich want "to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can possess but themselves."

Market society is profoundly inegalitarian. "For one very rich man, there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many."

There's nothing fair or evenhanded about the role of government in any of this. The government, "so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."

The division of labor is profoundly dehumanizing. "The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations ... generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become." Eventually he becomes "incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation [or] of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life." Instead of abandoning the workers to their "drowsy stupidity," the state ought to supply public education.


"The cruellest of our revenue laws, I will venture to affirm, are mild and gentle, in comparison of some of those which the clamour of our merchants and manufacturers has extorted from the legislature, for the support of their own absurd and oppressive monopolies. Like the laws of Draco, these laws may be said to be written all in blood." The state should be wary in responding to these capitalists, because they "have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the publick."


Labor markets are fundamentally coercive. Wealthy employers can outlast their workers in the event of disputes. "It is not ... difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms."

Much as I believe and endorsed Herzog's (correct) point that Adam Smith was not a "market fundamentalist," I cannot approve of the way that four of these six quotes are ripped from context and glossed.

The first--which Herzog says shows that Smith thinks that "vanity drives the struggle for wealth" comes as a brief aside in Smith's Book I analysis of why precious metals and jewels have such a high market price. If you read through the Wealth of Nations, you find far more places, principally in Book II, in which Smith attributes wealth not to vanity but to... frugality. Relative frugality, it is true, but frugality. And frugality that acquires a holy and sacred character. Rather than being primarily the result of the indulgence of a vice (vanity), for Smith the accumulation of wealth is primarily the result of the practice of a virtue (frugality), and this accumulation of wealth--so long as it is not perverted and wasted--is a holy act of charity, an act of consecration, that boosts the incomes of the poor.

For example:

Whatever a person saves from his revenue he adds to his capital.... Parsimony, and not industry, is the immediate cause of the increase of capital. Industry, indeed, provides the subject which parsimony accumulates; but whatever industry might acquire, if parsimony did not save and store up, the capital would never be the greater.

Parsimony, by increasing the fund which is destined for the maintenance of productive hands, tends to increase the number of those hands whose labour adds to the value of the subject upon winch it is bestowed.... It puts into motion an additional quantity of industry, which gives an additional value.... What is annually saved, is as regularly consumed as what is annually spent, and nearly in the same time too : but it is consumed by a different set of people. That portion of his revenue which a rich man annually spends, is, in most cases, consumed by idle guests and menial servants, who leave nothing behind them in return for their consumption. That portion which he annually saves, as, for the sake of the profit, it is immediately employed as a capital, is consumed in the same manner, and nearly in the same time too, but by a different set of people: by labourers, manufacturers, and artificers....

By what a frugal man annually saves, he not only affords maintenance to an additional number of productive hands, for that of the ensuing year, but like the founder of a public work-house [note: these are not Dickensian workhouses: Smith wrote long before the abolition of outdoor relief] he establishes, as it were, a perpetual fund for the maintenance of an equal number in all times to come. The perpetual allotment and destination of this fund, indeed, is not always guarded by any positive law, by any trust-right or deed of mortmain. It is always guarded, however, by a very powerful principle, the plain and evident interest of every individual to whom any share of it shall ever belong....

The prodigal perverts it.... Like him who perverts the revenues of some pious foundation to profane purposes, he pays the wages of idleness with those funds which the frugality of his forefathers had, as itwere, consecrated to the maintenance of industry. By diminishing the funds destined for the employment of productive labour, he necessarily diminishes... the value of the annual produce of the land and labour of the whole country, the real wealth and revenue of its inhabitants. If the prodigality of some were not compensated by the frugality of others, the conduct of every prodigal, by feeding the idle with the bread of the industrious, would tend not only to beggar himself, but to impoverish his country...

Similarly, the second and third quotes, which Herzog glosses as Smith saying that "market society is profoundly inegalitarian.... There's nothing fair or evenhanded about the role of government in any of this," are again profoundly ripped from context. The discussion comes from Book V, Chapter 1, Part ii, begins by stating that the civil government's role in protecting the property of the rich is fair, or at least just, and that it is useful--for without a government that protects the property of the rich, society as a whole cannot accumulate wealth, cannot have a sophisticated division of labor, and so must be very poor:

The second duty of the sovereign, that of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice, requires two very different degrees of expense in the different periods of society.

Among nations of hunters, as there is scarce any property... there is seldom any... regular administration of justice.... [W]hen one man kills, wounds, beats, or defames another, though he to whom the injury is done suffers, he who does it receives no benefit. It is otherwise with the injuries to property.... Envy, malice, or resentment, are the only passions which can prompt one man to injure another.... But the greater part of men are not very frequently under the influence of those passions.... Men may live together in society with some tolerable degree of security, though there is no civil magistrate to protect them from the injustice of those passions.

But avarice and ambition in the rich, in the poor the hatred of labour and the love of present ease and enjoyment, are the passions which prompt to invade property ; passions much more steady in their operation, and much more universal in their influence. Wherever there is a great property, there is great inequality. For one very rich man, there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy to invade his possessions. It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate, that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labour of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security. He is at all times surrounded by unknown enemies, whom, though he never provoked, he can never appease, and from whose injustice he can be protected only by the powerful arm of the civil magistrate, continually held up to chastise it. The acquisition of valuable and extensive property, therefore, necessarily requires the establishment of civil government. Where there is no property, or at least none that exceeds the value of two or three days labour, civil government is not so necessary...

Smith is no leveller and no Marx: his observation that great wealth must bring great inequality with it is not a condemnation of market society but an observation, and--to Smith--the government that protects the property of the rich from the poor is engaged in preventing "injustice."

I could go on. Smith's advocacy of public education and fear of what the divison of labor does to the minds and capabilities of citizens is the only quote that Herzog has not ripped from context--Smith is enough of a civic humanist to want to see the free development of each citizen as a necessary part of a free society. But Herzog's gloss of Smith as believing that "labor markets are fundamentally coercive" cannot be sustained if one bothers to read four paragraphs on from the sentence that Herzog quotes:

There are certain circumstances, however, which sometimes give the labourers an advantage... raise their wages considerably above... the lowest which is consistent with common humanity. The demand for those who live by wages... naturally increases with the increase of national wealth.... It is... in those which are growing rich the fastest, that the wages of labour are highest. England is certainly, in the present times, a much richer country than any part of North America. The wages of labour, however, are much higher in North America than in any part of England. In the province of New York, common labourers earned in 1773, before the commencement of the late disturbances, three shillings and sixpence currency, equal to two shillings sterling, a-day ; ship-carpenters, ten shillings and sixpence currency, with a pint of rum, worth sixpence sterling, equal in all to six shillings and sixpence sterling; house-carpenters and bricklayers, eight shillings currency, equal to four shillings and sixpence sterling ; journeymen tailors, five shillings currency, equal to about two shillings and tenpence sterling. These prices are all above the London price... If the money price of labour, therefore, be higher than it is anywhere in the mother-country, its real price, the real command of the necessaries and conveniencies of life which it conveys to the labourer, must be higher in a still greater proportion....

Convince your readers that--as Herzog implies--Adam Smith believed that the accumulation of wealth was principally driven by vanity, that mammoth inequality was a defect of market society, that government is unfair in protecting the property of the rich, that the dehumanizing effects of the division of labor are powerful and need to be counteracted by the government, that labor markets are inherently coercive, and that the political influence of businessmen is a danger to the public, and you have convinced your readers of more things that are false than things that are true.

Herzog might respond that he is engaged not in intellectual history but in destructive theology: that the Wealth of Nations has become the sacred text of a world religion of market fundamentalism; that the evangelists of market fundamentalism neither know nor care about the structure of Adam Smith's thought; and that his enterprise of using out-of-context quotes from the sacred text to demolish the arguments of True Believers who similarly use out-of-context quotes from the sacred text for their own purposes is a worthy one.

To which I would respond: Yes. They may not care about what The Wealth of Nations that Smith wrote meant, or about what The Wealth of Nations that Smith's contemporaries read meant. But I do.

In The Wealth of Nations, at least, Smith believes that he has an extraordinarily penetrating and largely new insight: that the market economy--the "system of natural liberty," he calls it--as an immensely powerful and benevolent social mechanism for promoting general prosperity. This is, Smith believes, cause for a revolution in how we should think about Political Oeconomy. The power and benevolence of the market is not the only important consideration to take into account in thinking about questions of Political Oeconomy, but it is the most important consideration--as important, relatively speaking, as is the gravity of the sun in calculating the motions of the planets. Just as you cannot ignore the influence of Jupiter or even the Earth when calculating the orbit of Mars, so you cannot ignore considerations of civic humanism or employer collusion or monopoly in thinking about Political Oeconomy. But to not give pride of place to Smith's love of the "system of natural liberty" is to be false to Smith's thought. And the guy deserves more respect than that.

If you want to tell you readers what the core of the Wealth of Nations says, you turn to Book I, Chapter 1:

It is the great multiplication of the productions... in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people. Every workman has a great quantity of his own work to dispose of beyond what he himself has occasion for; and every other workman being exactly in the same situation, he is enabled to exchange a great quantity of his own goods.... He supplies them abundantly with what they have occasion for, and they accommodate him asamply with what he has occasion for, and a general plenty diffuses itself through all the different ranks of the society.

Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or daylabourer in a civilized and thriving country... the number ofpeople, of whose industry a part, though but a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation. The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production.

How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country? How much commerce and navigation in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world?

What a variety of labour, too, is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workmen! To say nothing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool. The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brickmaker, the bricklayer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the millwright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them....

[W]ithout the assistance and co-operation of many thousands, the very meanest person in a civilized country could not be provided, even according to, what we very falsely imagine, the easy and simple manner in which he is commonly accommodated. Compared, indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy ; and yet it may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of an European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king...

And always recall that Smith is not, in our context, a left-winger or a critic of the market. He believes in the right to property, the right to incomes derived from property, the right of inheritance, that the rich who employ their capital productively are public benefactors who give more to the rest of society than they take out, that the market economy is a wonderful thing, that public order and protection of property are more important than democracy; that a good polity places power in the hands of a landed aristocracy; et cetera. That he believes the market economy is not perfect, and relies on the judicious statesman taking due account of other principles to improve it, does not keep him from being the biggest market economy-booster of all time.

Posted by DeLong at December 20, 2004 11:18 AM


Such are developments. The latest news is that the market economy may be refocused; a new regime should take over.

This month's report by the international panel on UN reform takes the giant step of questioning whether the G8 should continue - probably a matter that should be high on the G8's agenda for 2005.

Extracts from the report are:

"The framers of the Charter of the United Nations understood that peace and security were inseparable from economic development. The institutional problem we face [is that] decision -making on international economic matters, particularly in the areas of finance and trade, has long left the United Nations and no amount of institutional reform will bring it back."

"While the annual meetings of the G8 group at head of State or Government level fulfil some of the characteristics required to give greater coherence and impetus to the necessary policies, it would be helpful to have a larger forum bringing together the heads of the major developed and developing countries. One way of moving forward may be to transform into a leader’s group the G20 group of finance ministers, which currently brings together States collectively encompassing 80 per cent of the world’s population and 90 per cent of its economic activity, with regular attendance by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, WTO and the European Union." http://www.un.org/secureworld/report.pdf

Posted by: IJ at December 20, 2004 12:00 PM

Yes, it's important to be clear that Smith is never comparing inequality unfavorably to equality -- indeed he would have though equality a bizarre ideal.

But I want to argue just a little on the vanity point. It was important for Smith (as a good old-fashioned Burke-type conservative) that people don't necessarily know the results of their actions. Consider the fable in IV.I.8 of _Moral Sentiments_ about the ambitious "poor man's son." Fancying luxury, he works like a maniac all his life, ruining his health and happiness, only to find in the end that "wealth and greatness are mere trinkets of frivolous utility." Smith concludes "it is well that nature imposes upon us in this manner." So vanity and frugality are not necessarily at odds. (And lest someone accuse of citing early Smith, the last revision of _Sentiments_ was published *after* the last revision of _Wealth_.) Remember also the story in _Wealth_ III.4.10 about the silly landlord who, lusting after a pair of silver buckles, inadvertantly undermines feudalism.

I'm enthusiastically in agreement with your larger point that you can't grasp Smith via little quotes! I think Nietzsche somewhere likened this approach to great texts to grave-robbing -- rooting around in a work for little snippets that you can divert for some other purpose.

Thanks to the industrious libertarians who put up http://www.econlib.org/index.html and let me move from half-remembered Smith to exact citations in a matter of minutes.

[Good points, all...]

Posted by: Colin Danby at December 20, 2004 01:07 PM

What he said, he said. It all sounds so sad to me.

Posted by: cloquet at December 20, 2004 01:17 PM

I believe this is one of your best posts, and a post that should be examined over at the business school.

When I was at Haas getting my MBA, we had many, relatively recent, touchy feely courses or workshops (how to hire, how to be a politically sensitive employer, how to donate your money, how to fire, ....)

But there was never a single course that actually examined Capitalism the Philosophy (TM). There was in fact, no course that even required us to read Adam Smith or any of the classic liberal thinkers and economists in any large amount. And I suspect that Marx was never required reading for any course.

I always complained that Capitalism was presented as axiom, as beyond criticism, as a religion.

And presented so shallowly, that it was not possible to even consider how implementation of Capitalism could be a function of social context, or how Capitalism might be reasonably tweaked.

This was not true while getting my undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics. We learned about the history of these arts and sciences, their successes, their failures, their domains and ranges, and the outstanding great problems. And this was not true while getting my master's degree in computer science. We learned about the history and early days, considered alternative technologies, and learned about the failures and risks in computer science and engineering.

Why was this true of the MBA program? It was almost criminal to send these MBAs out to the world knowing how to ask for stock incentives, knowing never to fight against free trade, and never to fight for a minimum wage, but never understanding that Capitalism was never meant to be a Religion.

P.S. How come in the preview I can type "carriage return"/"enter" strokes, and even and never see any vertical whitespace. That makes for really difficult reading of longer posts.

Posted by: jerry at December 20, 2004 01:38 PM

...and then the vertical whitespace shows up in the final comment.... Minor tweaks needed. OTOH, the speed of posting a comment is vastly improved. Thanks.

Posted by: jerry at December 20, 2004 01:45 PM

I've long felt that a great intellectual mistake is made by not reading A Theory of Moral Sentiments alongside Wealth of Nations (much less trying to fathom the latter through Bartlett's-like quotations). I see that Colin Danby in a comment above has already beat me to that point. While in modern eyes Smith's moral world can seem more than a little paternalistic, nevertheless his conception of sympathy as a kind of social glue which tempers rampant materialism for him was not at all divorced from, let alone inconsistent with, his theory of the economic world.

Posted by: Boffo at December 20, 2004 02:02 PM

I read somewhere that Adam Smith, a guy who died in 1790--about half way through the Industrial Revolution in HIS neck of the woods--was chummy with Benjamin Franklin. I don't know if he ever got to know any of his OTHER contemporary "landed aristocrats"--people like, oh, say Chief Pontiac, just for example...

But now that the Revolution Smith worked so hard to facilitate has just about run its often murky course just about everywhere,

And given the current state of our 'globalized' moral, political, economic AND environmental 'environment',

I for one, can't help but wonder whether a stand-up guy like Adam Smith would have adjusted his ideas to suit the changed circumstances.

And I have to wonder too whether or not, if he HAD done a thing like that, SOME people would STILL quote him and his 200+ year old notions of 'Oeconomy' the way SOME people quote holy scripture...

Posted by: Mike at December 20, 2004 02:06 PM

"And given the current state of our 'globalized' moral, political, economic AND environmental 'environment',

I for one, can't help but wonder whether a stand-up guy like Adam Smith would have adjusted his ideas to suit the changed circumstances."

You honestly don't think that the millions of people not living in abject poverty as a result of the market Oeconomy counts for much? I think Mr. Smith would be pleased, and not at all surprised to find that property protections and the presence of working markets have a strong correlation with the absence of widespread death, disease, and misery these days.

Posted by: Jason Ligon at December 20, 2004 02:37 PM

Dear Jason:

I have absolutely no idea where you got the absurd idea that I reject (altogether) "the market Oeconomy" and/or "property protections". But I CAN and WILL tell you ONE thing "honestly".

You SURE AS HELL don't have a moral "right" to project your delusions onto me. OR to pretend to know what I think "counts for much."

BTW. "Strong Correlations" or not, "property protections" and "working markets" have been part of 'civilized' life for several THOUSAND years now...

Posted by: Mike at December 20, 2004 03:14 PM

Just a followup to Jerry's interesting comment. "Capitalism" is a source of a lot of confusion. To my dismay I discovered at one point in one of my classes that quite a few students thought "capitalist" was a mere insult, that it meant "greedy person" -- they'd been thinking that when I used the term I was slanging businessfolk. And then you get other students, as you noted, for whom it's a sort of religion. And, as you can see elsewhere on this thread, people who have very woolly senses of what "capitalism" is and implies can still get into fights about it.

And "capitalism" *is* a somewhat unstable term, even among people who have tried to think out what it means. I can define a capitalist firm pretty precisely, but "capitalism" as an epoch or kind of society is much less easily specifiable. At the least, I think students need to put together Smith, Marx, Schumpeter, and Weber to get a sense of the issues.

Posted by: Colin Danby at December 20, 2004 04:28 PM


As a student of international political economy, can I add Gramssci and Veblen at least? And preferably some modern neo-Gramscian perspectives?

Posted by: Lorenzo at December 20, 2004 05:45 PM

Adam Smith "the biggest market economy-booster of all time"? Maybe. But I always that that the honor belonged to the beginning of Marx's Communist Manifesto. Or maybe that is just the greatest paean to capitalist production?

Posted by: Joe S. at December 20, 2004 06:21 PM

This is a commendable piece of integrity by Brad. Thank you.

One thing about sympathy and the market. Although the market sorts on its own terms those who can pay from those who can't, this is not all evil and exclusive. That is, the person who can pay is included, per se.

I worked in former Yugoslavia right after the collapse of the USSR, and they didn't have the hang of the market yet. Walking into a new private enterprise travel agency, it was impossible to get the attention of one of the many clerks. Later a native told me I needed to be a family member or friend already.

When I returned to the States, for months it seemed like a miracle to go into a store and be greeted with genuine interest, including some personal elements, just because I was a potential customer.

Which are there more of in the world? Non-members of the storekeeper's family with the coins necessary to buy something? Or destitute folk with family connections? I know which I find more effectively inclusive.

Thanks again, Brad, for the tutorial. I assume by reputation you're not arguing "for" the market, only "for" accuracy. It becomes you.

Posted by: AH at December 21, 2004 12:17 AM

Captitalism and the Market. It's always such a success as long as you consider a subset of the available population. Like the US and the UK; as if what they do stops at the border.
Capitalism is always a pyramid scheme, it's built into the system...

Posted by: bil at December 21, 2004 09:43 AM

While I'd agree with much of your analysis, it does seem unfair that, as noted by other commentators, you attack Herzog for quoting Smith without looking at the broader context and then turn around and with the weasel words "In the Wealth of Nations, at least" you yourself ignore most of Smith's writings.

The number of times that Smith suggested the desire for wealth was principally driven by vanity is far too high to assume the thought was a mistake or minor aside. Indeed, he thought that vanity was an important tool to ensure that there was some level of equality in the distribution of necessities. The rich, by employing the poor “for their own vain and insatiable desires... make nearly the same distribution of the necessities of life... had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants,” he argued.

Again, ‘the whole industry of human life is employed’ in satisfying ‘ the nicety and delicacy of our taste.’ And 'an augmentation of fortune is the means by which the greater part of men propose and wish to better their condition. It is the means most vulgar and most obvious...'

Read Albert Hirschman's 1977 classic "The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph."

Meanwhile, to read Smith on the dangers of political influence by businessmen you need only go as far as his long discussion of the Corn Laws. Assuming that this only applies to landowners and has no broader application is surely an excessive case of strict constructionism.

Posted by: AdamSmithee at December 22, 2004 06:27 AM

We will come from the lowest deep to save you.

Posted by: cloquet at December 22, 2004 08:58 AM

This is my favorite quote from Smith, from the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Here he attacks the classical and Christian idea that virtue consists of contemplation or monkish abstention from the world. It was part of smith's intention to show that the best way of life is to quietly improve your condition, not the life of the aristocrat or the philosopher or the priest.

"To compare . . . the futile mortifications of a
monastery, to the ennobling hardships and hazards of war; to
suppose that one day, or one hour, employed in the former should,
in the eye of the great Judge of the world, have more merit than
a whole life spent honourably in the latter, is surely contrary
to all our moral sentiments; to all the principles by which
nature has taught us to regulate our contempt or admiration. It
is this spirit, however, which, while it has reserved the
celestial regions for monks and friars, or for those whose
conduct and conversation resembled those of monks and friars, has
condemned to the infernal all the heroes, all the statesmen and
lawgivers, all the poets and philosophers of former ages; all
those who have invented, improved, or excelled in the arts which
contribute to the subsistence, to the conveniency, or to the
ornament of human life; all the great protectors, instructors,
and benefactors of mankind; all those to whom our natural sense
of praise-worthiness forces us to ascribe the highest merit and
most exalted virtue. Can we wonder that so strange an application
of this most respectable doctrine should sometimes have exposed
it to contempt and derision; with those at least who had
themselves, perhaps, no great taste or turn for the devout and
contemplative virtues?"

Posted by: billyjoerobidoux@yahoo.com at December 23, 2004 08:31 AM


Great post. However I think your point should go even further, though you may not want it to. Not only is Smith not a market fundamentalist, most conservatives and libertarians are not either if Professor Herzog's definition of being a market fundamentalist is taken at face value. There is nothing said even in the out of context quotes or assertions made in Herzog's post that Friedman, Hayek, Mises, Roepke, William F. Buckley or even Rush Limbaugh would have a problem with taken individually. Smith supported support for the poor! Who in my list above doesn't? The form of that support, the size of that support is debated. Having something is not. The state provide for education! At bare minimum Friedman, Buckley, Reagan, Bush, and Limbaugh all support government providing for education. How to provide it may be a question, but not whether to provide it. Men are greedy, vain and try to coerce the government to arrange the laws to favor them! A core aspect of the conservative-libertarian argument against the expansion of the state is based on that very fact. So in the end the post is extremely dishonest. It reminds me of those on the right who acted as if Bill Clinton were indistinguishable from Chairman Mao as though supporting college tax credits (not that I do)or a 39% top tax bracket was equivalent to nationalizing and collectivizing the means of production. Posts like this imply that all those who wish to restrain the state believe in the possibility of some idyllic world where taxes don't exist, men work and save for the most beneficent of reasons, no public monies are necessary for support of anyone and free enterprise takes care of everything. That is a straw man. Herzog describes a market fundamentalist that has all the reality of bigfoot.

Posted by: Lance at December 23, 2004 12:04 PM

"the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which come from the remotest corners of the world."

But it makes all the difference in the world, if you know whether the garments were purple or green.

Posted by: cloquet at December 23, 2004 06:32 PM