Adam Smith is a Socialist!

At least by John McCain’s definition.

The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. . . . The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. . . . It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.
“The Wealth of Nations” (1776)

In other news, the Founding Fathers turn out to be effete European socialists, probably French.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. One of Tocqueville’s central insights in “Democracy in America,” based on his personal observations in the 1820s, was that if confronted with the necessity of choosing between the two, democratic peoples (including Americans) would always choose equality over liberty. That has pretty consistently been the case over the years, as more and more laws and regulations have attempted to socially and economically level society, though yes, we probably do still have more liberty than most European democracies. The Bill of Rights saw to that.

  2. That’s a false dichotomy; liberty and equality are not mutually exclusive. Equality in the American sense is not “levelling society;” rather it means removing artificial barriers in law or society based on race or gender that prevent people from enjoying their full liberties. Unless people are equal before the wall and have an equal chance to raise or fall on their own merits, they are not free. And while we’re at it, what “liberties” are “most European democracies” currently lacking? You aren’t buying into the persistent RW myth that capitalism and democracy are one and the same are you?

  3. “That’s a false dichotomy; liberty and equality are not mutually exclusive.”

    Not ALWAYS mutually exclusive, of course, but to enforce equality often requires laws and restrictions where there were none before. Absolute freedom or liberty would essentially be anarchy, so we surrender some liberty to live in security, and some more liberty to guarantee greater equality in any number of areas. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing; it’s just the WAY of things. As Jefferson said, it’s the nature of things for liberty to yield and governments to grow.

    “You aren’t buying into the persistent RW myth that capitalism and democracy are one and the same are you?”

    Not at all, though I probably would agree with them that capitalism and freedom are one and the same (or more accurately, capitalism is a form of freedom), and that restrictions on capitalism are, technically speaking, restrictions on freedom. That’s not a value judgment; just an observation on the way things are. I for one am glad we don’t have a completely laissez-faire economy or society; absolute freedom is an anarchic state where the strong can dominate the weak with impunity.


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