by Ted Bauman
The Sovereign Investor
Most free-market advocates assert that the unregulated pursuit of individual self-interest promotes everyone’s well-being. If each of us focuses on maximizing our economic returns as producers and consumers, the “invisible hand” will ensure that everyone is as well-off as they can possibly be.
That idea is attributed to 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. But it’s only part of what Smith actually said.
Most people who speak confidently of Smith’s ideas haven’t read his works. They latch on to things they’ve heard attributed to Smith that appeal to their self-interest, and ignore the rest — usually because whoever they heard quote Smith didn’t mention those bits in the first place.