"Americans unbalanced these days almost as a matter of policy"

William S. Lear rael at zopyra.com
Wed Aug 4 16:16:21 PDT 1999

On Wednesday, August 4, 1999 at 11:45:06 (-0400) Brett Knowlton writes:
>>I've been reading way too much about the roots of neoclassical
>>economics lately for my own good, but this notion of the merit of a
>>constant craving for material wealth goes back through the ages to
>>Smith and beyond. The whole edifice of this ridiculous "science" is
>>rotten to the core.
>Hey Bill, don't leave us hangin' - how about a brief explanation? Or at
>least a reference or two.

Not sure of what you want an explanation --- the roots of beneficent coveting or the rotten core of economics. I think Smith's *Theory of Moral Sentiments*, part IV, "Of the Effect of Utility upon the Sentiment of Approbation" might be an answer to the former (".... The poor man's son, whom heaven in its anger has visited with ambition ... admires the condition of the rich").

As to the latter, where is one to begin? I've just about finished the New Palgrave's "Invisible Hand" collection of essays and it is quite amazing. No concern whether the assertions about the benefits of market behavior are true, indeed whether markets can be said to meaningfully exist at all. The whole book, save for a few notable exceptions, had a creepy feeling of religion about it.


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