Adam SmithAdam Smith, (1723-1790) Scottish philosopher and economist

Adam Smith Quote

“The proposal of any new law or regulation which comes from [businessmen], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

Adam SmithAdam Smith
~ Adam Smith

Ratings and Comments

Bill, Lombard, IL.

Sounds like a Scottish Barack Obama. Maybe we should look there for his birth certificate.

jim k, Austin, Tx

I would rather have businessmen running the country instead of that bunch of lawyers ruining it now.

Mike, Norwalk

Man can not create law, only define it. Any new regulation which comes from any special interest ought always to be listened to with great precaution and then measured to the law and reasoned how best to deal with it.

E Archer, NYC

Using government to secure private markets amounts to monopolies -- this is known as racketeering. Legislation is to be written by our elected representatives, not rubber stamped by them written by lobbyists and government contractors. Look at how private banking has influenced government to bail them out and protect them at every turn. Look at how pharmaceutical companies have managed to get laws passes that require people to get vaccines and take drugs. Look at how the medical industry and legal industry have forced us all into business with them. And the insurance industry has crept its way into every facet of life. What we have today is businesses being hired to regulate themselves usually resulting in the oppression of the competition and the protection of the racketeers. Adam Smith is right on this one.

E Archer, NYC

Mike, when speaking about 'law' one must specify the various distinctions. The Constitution recognizes 3 forms of jurisprudence: common law, statutory law, and military law. Natural law or the laws of nature may be fixed and unchangeable, but that does not mean that the common man may know them. The common law is and has been the result of thousands of years of custom and experience and I would say best reflects what you describe as 'law.' However, when we speak of agreements between people, certain terms and conditions, we are speaking of commercial law (i.e. statutory law, colorable law). Man may not be able to 'make' law but we can define rules (statutes) and agree to them -- this is referred to as 'legislation' when our representatives agree to it. So in that context, I do believe Adam Smith is speaking about statutory law, not natural law.

Mike, Norwalk

Archer, I understand the separate distinctions of administration - and you are right. Common law is much more than a stari decisis. Common law is the collection, from what ever means or source, of natural law and its affects. In man’s agreements, he can not lawfully make an illegal contract. By way of example you and I can not agree to rob a bank. Fiscal law (a body of separate natural laws) dictates the outcome of commercial agreements. Again, the ‘law’ here administered specifically is based on natural law. As such, a disinterested third party (government) has no lawful jurisdiction into that which would be recognized as commercial law or law of agreements. I agree, Smith is talking about statutory law. Rules defining agreements (that people agree to abide to - commercial statutes) must comply to natural law and can carry no criminal penalties. The agreement must stand or fall / prosper or otherwise of its own merits.

Bertie W., Bangor, Maine

Actually, both Mr Archer and Mike are correct until Mr Smith's comments are taking in context and Zeitgiest. Mr Smith lived in a time when businessmen were the fascists of the world, controlling even Kings by economic power. Remember the Knights Templars? Mr Smith also believed that similiar social structures tended to gravitate towards each other, taking and changing that which was dissimiliar. Since he advocated free market as the "natural" state of man but knowing there were no "free market" societies until created, he was cautioning against a governmental free market society getting "hooked" by fascists business men.

Mary, MI
  • Reply
Mary, MI    6/4/21

Well, It sounds as if Adam Smith could have been referring to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce!


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