Economic Theorist as Commissioner of Customs

Ian Simpson Ross

in The Life of Adam Smith

Published in print October 1995 | ISBN: 9780198288213
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596827 | DOI:
 Economic Theorist as Commissioner of Customs

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Smith's correspondence of this period of his life suggests that he believed that raising a revenue in a non‐discriminatory way did not gravely affect the tendency towards price equilibrium on which economic efficiency depends. There was also the necessity of providing for justice, education, and public works in Scotland. Smith was consequently willing, on the grounds of utility, to regulate and enforce the mercantile system, even though he viewed some of its features as unwise and unjust, for example, prohibiting certain imports and punishing smugglers harshly. Smith's activities as an administrative judge and director of import police are assessed, and highlights of his service are described, such as his coastguard command role in gathering intelligence about the entry of John Paul Jones with units of the American navy, supported by France, into the Firth of Forth in September 1779. As well, his views of this time about the issue of free trade for Ireland are examined.

Keywords: enforce; equilibrium; regulate; revenue; smugglers

Chapter.  7210 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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