… is from the editors’ footnote #8 on pages 453-454 of Book IV chapter II of the 1981 Liberty Fund edition of Adam Smith’s monumental 1776 An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: – specifically, it’s a passage quoted by the editors from section 3.5 of the Early Draft of the Wealth of Nations:
[T]here is in every country what may be called a natural balance of industry, or a disposition in the people to apply to each species of work precisely in proportion to the demand for that work. That whatever tends to break this balance tends to hurt national or public opulence; whether it be by giving extraordinary discouragement to some sorts of industry or extraordinary encouragements to others.
DBx: A perennial industry thrives of people attempting to conscript the ghost of Adam Smith into the ranks of the political left. Don’t fall for it. While Smith believed in a role for the state beyond that of mere nightwatchman, he cannot be read today with even a modicum of care and objectivity to honestly reach the conclusion that, were he alive today, Smith would align himself ideologically or politically with interventionists.