Friday, December 5, 2008

Our Founding Fathers

I always find it interesting to see how, over the course of time, ideas get distorted into rigid ideological parodies of themselves. It is probably an inevitable consequence of mass adoption (witness religious doctrine in general). One of the cases that particularly fascinates me is how remarkably prescient Adam Smith the man was, given how remarkably awful many of the self-labeled "free market" types are who almost certainly never read a word he wrote.

Today's quote is a propos of this reflection, and the Fed's new plan to make us all rich again by forcing us to buy overpriced houses.

I can only think of Adam Smith’s warning:

The proposal of any new law or regulation which comes from [businessmen], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

One of the stranger revelations of the last few years for me has been that Adam Smith and Karl Marx could almost be thought of as being on the same team. Naturally, Marx spawned an equally absurd school of misinterpretation, though in his case, you might throw a chunk of the blame at his own doorstep.

No comments: