Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Need more food? Socialize Agriculture? Not Really

Adam Smith tells us why so many politicians come to believe their own propaganda.

How distressing that so many Americans believe that government-supplied universal health care will make medical treatments more accessible to ordinary Americans ("Obama Calls to Overhaul Health-Care," March 6). Does anyone believe that food would become cheaper and more abundant if we socialized agriculture? Would we enjoy more entertainment if we socialized Hollywood, Broadway, and Nashville? Would kitchen appliances suddenly become free if government gave us universal kitchen-appliance insurance?

Adam Smith, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, lamented that people are easily duped by the promises of an alluring Great New System. Such people, Smith says, "are commonly intoxicated with the imaginary beauty of this ideal system, of which they have no experience, but which has been represented to them in all the most dazzling colours in which the eloquence of their leaders could paint it. Those leaders themselves, though they originally may have meant nothing but their own aggrandisement, become many of them in time the dupes of their own sophistry [Sen. Kennedy, perhaps?!], and are as eager for this great reformation as the weakest and foolishest of their followers."*