In his article on Adam Smith, Adam Gopnik leaves out a couple of important facts about the life of Adam Smith that provide clues to a very different story than the one Gopnik tells. First of all, there is Adam Smith’s request that all his papers be burned after his death. Everything. And this was done. Why such a request? Was Smith hiding something? It turns out he was: something that has remained hidden from many admirers of Smith, including Gopnik.
One of the key ideas in modern economics is the idea of scarcity. In fact, sometimes economics is defined as the “allocation of resources in the context of scarcity.”
Scarcity means that there is not enough to go around. If everyone had access to everything they desire, there would be no economics. There would be no need to determine how to allocate resources. At least that is one view of the field of economics. This notion of scarcity, however, is a bit more complicated than it might appear.
It is hard to escape the irony that the Supreme Count’s decision on the Citizens United case has only united citizens against their decision. Whether corporations should be treated as persons, however, is not the real question. The question is whether they should be treated as citizens.
Check out the review of Civilizing the Economy by Ernesto Aguilar: