Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Obama Economy - Conrad Black - National Review Online

Adam Smith was absolutely correct that there should be an efficient division of work, and that production should be aimed to please the consumer rather than to express the whim of the producer. He recognized that mercantilism was essentially a command economy that was certain to be much less productive, less satisfying to consumers, and less likely to grow and flourish and generate wealth, jobs, and incomes, than a free-market economy. He recognized the need for alleviation of the conditions of the indigent, and, as someone who was more a moral philosopher than an economist, he expected that economic restraint, frugality, and altruistic desires would be stronger than, in practice, they are.

Smith could not have foreseen that the U.S. in particular, which was just grasping for its independence in his time, would become such a center of Babylonian decadence and philistine vulgarity as it has, in addition to having many more admirable traits. No one could have foreseen that in advanced countries such as the U.S., cultural factors and not economic policies would be the chief cause of poverty and that obesity would be the greatest public-health problem.

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