Myths About Adam Smith Ideas v. His Ideas
Gavin Kennedy is a professor and director of contracts at Edinburgh Business School. He authors the Adam Smith’s Lost Legacy blog discussing the mis-attributions to Adam Smith, which are all too common now. A good example is, Perpetrators of Myths Mislead Generations of Students, Some of Whom Grow Up to (mis)Advise Legislators:
Smith’s intellectual arguments, and personal warmth for the growth of commercial society, were driven by the conviction that growth across agriculture, industry and specific, targeted public expenditure, such as defence, justice, and public works and public institutions, would assist the spread of opulence, especially to the labouring poor and their families, albeit slowly and gradually, but steadily too, if legislators and those who influenced them were careful not to approve monopoly schemes to narrow markets and restrict competition, not to indulge in spasms of ‘jealousy of trade’, protectionism, forming loss-making colonies and conducting wars for trivial ends (i.e., not for defensive purposes only).
Introducing, a mystical or miraculous force at work in markets detracts from the real and detailed policy measures that may required from time to time to ensure steady growth, competition, and liberty for all, and not just for the amoral ends of privileged monopolists and their cronies.