Merriment and Diversion: Smith on Public Finance and Public Choice

Iain McLean

in Adam Smith, Radical and Egalitarian

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623525
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672110 | DOI:
Merriment and Diversion: Smith on Public Finance and Public Choice

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This chapter investigates where Adam Smith thought the invisible hand worked benignly in the economy, and where it failed to overcome the visible hands of meddling politicians and economic agents. The Wealth of Nations is a treatise on economic theory and an economist's advice on public policy. Smith's perspective on Union for Britain and Ireland, and on economic growth, derives from the primacy that Inquiry into…the Wealth of Nations gives to the division of labour. Smith's view of Arms came as a severe disappointment to the other members of the. His discussion of taxation and public expenditure is one of the finest parts of Wealth of Nations. Economics is a radically egalitarian discipline in Smith's hands. Distinctions of status and power only block liberty and economic growth. Merriment and diversion may cloak naked self-interest.

Keywords: merriment; diversion; Adam Smith; economy; Wealth of Nations; economic theory; public policy; Arms

Chapter.  9600 words. 

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