Economics Essay, Research Paper
Adam Smith: The Founder of Modern Economics
Adam Smith was born in 1723 in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland, fatherless. The exact date of his birth is unknown. Smith was baptized June 5, 1723. At the age of fifteen, he began his schooling at Glasgow and Oxford. In 1751, after he finished school, he was offered a job at Glasgow University where he became the new Professor of Logic. There he lectured on ethics, rhetoric, jurisprudence and the political economy.
Just eight years after his teaching career began; he published his work The Theory of Moral Sentiments. This showed that he could write, and he established himself in the world. In 1776, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations was published. Instantly the book was a success. It had a dramatic effect on how people thought. Even though it took him ten years to write, he became a very rich man from it. After he finished traveling Europe, he went to Edinburgh to live with his mother and died on July 17, 1790 from a painful illness.
Laissez faire is a French term meaning, allow to do or as some say, leave alone. Smith had many strong beliefs and he was able to share them with the world through his books. He thought that if the government did not intervene in the market, then the problems that they had would fix themselves. Setting prices, trade restrictions, minimum wage laws and product regulations were all seen as too much intervention by the government. He figured that competition would set the proper pricing. Most capitalists agreed with Smith on this, because that meant they had more freedom in their market. Some of them took advantage of the situation and instead treated their laborers unfairly. Smith was unlike those men and favored laws against monopolies. In the beginning, this idea was accepted with enthusiasm. Later on though, people started saying that laissez faire didn t solve many of the problems that the economy had. This laissez-faire policy of government non-intervention remained popular throughout the Victorian Era and still plays an important part in present-day economic policy . Eventually, governments began to add regulations and restrictions to the areas where problems occurred. Even though most governments have some amount of intervention, many of the aspects of laissez faire are still used to this day.
Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally indeed neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more efficiently than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good (Smith quoted. in The Wealth of Nations, vol. II).
I think that Adam Smith had a big impact on how people thought and looked at government during that age. It was a time of change and people knew it. Trying something new was exciting to them, and they wanted more economic freedom instead of the government regulating things that didn t need it. I think that the idea of laissez faire was a good one. Many argue that it had a lot of faults, but that is true about many ideas. There isn’t a utopian society out there. People need to realize that and just make the best of what is.
Adam Smith had a huge influence in the way countries worked in the 1700 s and even now. His works are still being read and analyzed. Many nations around the world based policies on The Wealth of Nations. Many people around the world still believe that the laissez faire policy should be brought back. The United States have a few policies related to this, but the government still has some necessary involvement. Smith was a great thinker who had many ideas that he wasn t able to express because of his death. It is rumored that there were more transcripts that were burned in a fire before his death. If he had lived longer, there might have been even more influential work published. The Wealth of Nations was the first and remains the most important book on the subject of political economy until this present day.