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An Interview With Adam Smith

Well, sort of.

In my latest column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review I use Adam Smith’s own words, from 1776, to answer questions that a hypothetical interviewer in 2019 would very likely put to him. A slice:

Interviewer: Professor Smith, many politicians and pundits endorse subsidies and tariffs as means to support the industries of the future. What say you?

Smith: The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

Interviewer: Whoa! Tell us what you really think! Moving on, don’t you agree with President Trump that American firms need protection from the competition of cheap imports?

Smith: To give the monopoly of the home market to the produce of domestic industry, in any particular art or manufacture, is in some measure to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, and must, in almost all cases, be either a useless or a hurtful regulation.


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