Wednesday, February 11, 2009

PJ O'Rourke: What Would Adam Smith Think Today?

As usual, PJ hits the ball out of the park. The Financial Times has this new commentary. Don't let me get in the way, just read it:
How then would Adam Smith fix the present mess? Sorry, but it is fixed already. The answer to a decline in the value of speculative assets is to pay less for them. Job done.

We could pump the banks full of our national treasure. But Smith said: “To attempt to increase the wealth of any country, either by introducing or by detaining in it an unnecessary quantity of gold and silver, is as absurd as it would be to attempt to increase the good cheer of private families, by obliging them to keep an nnecessary number of kitchen utensils.” [440]

We could send in the experts to manage our bail-out. But Smith said: “I have never known much good done by those who affect to trade for the public good.” [456]

And we could nationalise our economies. But Smith said: “The state cannot be very great of which the sovereign has leisure to carry on the trade of a wine merchant or apothecary”. [818] Or chairman of General Motors.

Read the whole thing.


  1. Great article by O`Rourke. I am forwarding this out to several people. It`s hard to believe this guy started out as a Marxist.

  2. Yeah, once he got on with National Lampoon in the 70's and started making money for the first time in his life, he was shocked to find 50%+ of his pay cheque went to the government. He said that's when he dropped Marxism in a hurry.