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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Adam Smith and the invisible hand

No, it's not a new rock group. For the previously unindoctrinated, like myself, Adam Smith was an eighteenth century Scottish philosopher and economist. From the March 2001 issue of + Magazine:

Here is a description of the way Smith imagined the universe operates:
  • There is a benevolent deity who administers the world in such a way as to maximise human happiness.
  • In order to do this he has created humans with a nature that leads them to act in a certain way.
  • The world as we know it is pretty much perfect, and everyone is about equally happy. In particular, the rich are no happier than the poor.
  • Although this means we should all be happy with our lot in life, our nature (which, remember, was created by God for the purpose of maximising happiness) leads us to think that we would be happier if we were wealthier.
  • This is a good thing, because it leads us to struggle to become wealthier, thus increasing the sum total of human happiness via the mechanisms of exchange and division of labour.

Why is this important all of a sudden? The Obama Truth Squad points to an article in the Telegraph wherein Barack Obama was interviewed prior to his speech last night. In the Telegraph article, Obama is described as an avowed student of Adam Smith.

Posted by Marie at July 28, 2004 10:55 AM