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Arnold Kling reviews Alberto Mingardi’s book on Thomas Hodgskin [2].

GMU Econ alum Erik Matson writes intelligently on Adam Smith and the common good [3]. A slice (footnote deleted):

To Smith, “common good capitalism” would seem redundant. Smith of course never used the word “capitalism”—that came with Karl Marx [4] and his followers. But if we think about capitalism simply in terms of the private ownership of property, which includes a person’s ownership of her physical and human capital and the liberty to use that capital as she sees fit, the word can be reasonably mapped onto Smith’s thought. We can view capitalism as broadly synonymous with what Smith called “the liberal plan” or the “system of natural liberty” in which “every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men.”

It is liberty, in Smith’s view, that is at the heart of capitalism, and at the heart of liberty lies commitment to the good of humankind. Considering Smith’s position reminds us of a long-standing, but increasingly endangered, American moral sensibility: liberty and the economic freedom it entails serve the common good.

Michael Fumento is pessimistic about a return to normalcy any time soon from Covid Derangement Syndrome [5]. (I fear that he is correct.) Here’s his conclusion:

Meanwhile about 2.2 million children alone die each and every year in poorer countries from diarrhea, according to the CDC [6]. That’s last year, this year, and next year as well. (Assuming coronavirus doesn’t drain anti-diarrheal efforts – which apparently it is. [7]No Covid-19 shibboleth is more disingenuous than “All lives matter.” Perhaps, but obviously some lives matter more than most.

What we clearly have is a pandemic of self-absorption, part and parcel to mass psychogenic illness. At some point hopefully we will feel the shame of the Salem witch hunters and all those who aided and abetted them, those in the courts who squirmed and screamed every time a suspect witch was questioned. Maybe we’ll shun the current panic-mongers, as those people were later shunned. But for now it’s full-bore hysteria. And there’s no end in sight. It’s more for that reason that, indeed, 2020 has been a very bad year.

Phil Magness has more on Herbert Spencer’s warning against what David Hart recently identified by the name of “hygiene socialism.” [8]

Steve Landsburg holds this truth to be self-evident: “It is downright crazy to try to distribute vaccines without using prices.” [9]

Here’s the Wall Street Journal‘s formal obituary of my late, great colleague Walter Williams [10]. A slice:

In 1968, he flunked a theoretical exam at UCLA. A professor told him his exam paper was among the worst but that he believed Mr. Williams could do better. He buckled down and passed the exam the next semester. Flunking the exam the first time “convinced me that UCLA professors didn’t care anything about my race; they’d flunk me just as they’d flunk anyone else who didn’t make the grade,” he wrote later. He appreciated it.

Armed with his doctorate, he discovered a love for teaching and was a professor at Temple before moving to George Mason. “One of the most significant benefits of teaching is that it forces you to learn your subject,” he wrote.

Cal Thomas recalls the wisdom of Walter Williams [11]. A slice:

Williams was also unapologetic about his devotion to capitalism. He wrote: “Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man.”

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