Fitting thinkers from past centuries into contemporary debates and public policy disputes is less straightforward than it seems—and that goes double for Adam Smith. Here, University of Virginia politics professor Deborah Boucoyannis argues that Smith articulated in his own time policy positions and concerns that echo contemporary progressive critics of corporate capitalism at least as much as defenders of the status quo. This piece could be used to stimulate discussion about the difference between pro-business and pro-market approaches to public policy toward business, and also the difference between crony capitalism and entrepreneurial capitalism. >>>
LINK: Contrary to popular and academic belief, Adam Smith did not accept inequality as a necessary trade-off for a more prosperous economy (by Deborah Boucoyannis in LSE Politics and Policy Blog)
The assumption that Adam Smith accepted inequality as the necessary trade-off for a more prosperous economy is wrong, writes Deborah Boucoyannis. In reality, Smith’s system precluded steep inequalities not out of a normative concern with equality but by virtue of the design that aimed to maximise the wealth of nations. Much like many progressive critics of current inequality, Smith targets rentier practices by the rich and powerful as distorting economic outcomes.
Also relevant: “Adam Smith: 18th Century Sentimentalist or 20th Century Rationalist?” by Matthias Hühn at Business Ethics Journal Review
What do you think?