Advocates Of Capitalism and Rational Self Interest... Smith and Rand

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Birthplace of Independent Conservatism
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

Adam Smith has been caricatured by some as endorsing greed, much as his modern counterpart Ayn Rand has been by today's political left. The truth is neither were advocating a society driven by greed. Rather both advocated a society driven by rational self interest. Which is to say a free and open market economy.

Both Adam Smith and Ayn Rand would likely find the American political, economic, and social system of today anti rational. Rational self interest dictates that not only do you work for prosperity for yourself and family but also for society at large. Individuals, businesses, and government must grow to understand this, and act accordingly if the country is to ever return to economic stability and real national prosperity.

Today corporatism and crony capitalism are systems that benefit the few and often reward the most unworthy. In doing so capitalism, as well as the concept of rational self interest based on ethical behavior is destroyed.

As our government and businesses have become steadily more corrupt and unethical the results are taking a heavy toll on individuals as well as the nation. Like Rome, American government and businesses {as well as many individuals} seem to be unable to grasp the inevitable outcome of our lack of fiscal and moral discipline.

Perhaps Rand had it exactly right when she asked in the title of one of her books... "Philosophy, Who Needs It?" The answer it would seem is... Everybody.

Given the state of our nation today isn't it becoming clear Americans are following political, governmental,and economic systems that are lacking in rationality and sound ethics?

From Adam Smith Institute:
Self-interest and virtue

Some people wonder how the self-interest that drives Smith’s economic system can be squared with the ‘sympathy’ that drive his ethics. Here is his answer:

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.

In other words, human nature is complex. We are self-interested, but we also like to help others too. Smith’s books are complementary: they show how self-interested human beings can live together peacefully (in the moral sphere) and productively (in the economic).

The Wealth Of Nations is no endorsement of economic greed, as sometimes caricatured. Self-interest may drive the economy, but that is a force for good – provided there is genuinely open competition and no coercion. And it is the poor that economic and social freedom benefits most.

Could it be that the very capitalist system that created the greatest prosperity the world has ever witnessed will ultimately be responsible for its own demise in America? Time to think outside the box and ones comfort zone methinks.

Related: At Memeorandum, "Obamanomics vs. Reaganomics"

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