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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Are Friedman and Stone Late Night Fraternal Brothers?

Milton Friedman - Do-Gooders And Special Interest

Adam Smith wrote:
By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it. [Par. IV.2.9]

From An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book IV, Chap. 2 by Adam Smith.


sophomoric  adjective. Chiefly N. Amer. e19.

Of, befitting, or characteristic of a sophomore; pretentious; immature, juvenile; crude, superficial.
National Observer (US) The sophomoric skepticism of the man who has read one book…only.
(Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 2007).


For those who think sophomorically, the brain buzzes with juvenile infatuation and excitement at the notion that real philanthropy rests principally in unleashing thoroughgoing personal selfishness.  They feel liberated from the notion that the Golden Rule entails any personal sacrifice whatever for the sake of others—to the contrary, going full bore for the jugular is the only truly humane thing to do.

An added benefit to this monumental insight is that as one of the truly enlightened, you now find yourself way more morally and ethically superior to those misguided drudges putting others before themselves.  Many Trumpian Republicans come to mind.  But when you visualize a late night huddle of gleeful sophomores, does any one of the following visages appear? 


Finally I suggest you speculate whether or not Sam Walton knowingly considered the public good when liberating remote rural areas with his Walmart stores.  Call me a naive fool, but I strongly feel this was probably one of his major motives.  Let me repeat a quote cited in a recent blog: Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere sense of duty; it stems rather from love and devotion toward men and toward objective things (Albert Einstein). [A question  for Adam Smith: How would you deal with this?]

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