Moral economics

Dr Mary Brown (Letters, 4 January) admits to being no economist, but quotes at length from the historians E P Thompson and J H Plumb to argue against a more free market economy and less equality-focused public policy.

I would urge her to take a look at the writings of one of Scotland’s greatest sons – the first great economist, Adam Smith.

He wrote in The Wealth of Nations concerning what we would now call an entrepreneur that that “by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, 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 of his intention.

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“Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually 
than when he really intends to promote it.”

By contrast, Marxist economics represent a blind alley, which has had nothing useful to say about the creation of wealth and 
prosperity. Nor should it be forgotten that Adam Smith was also the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Furthermore, this linkage between morality, justice and the free market has also been central to the thinking of those other 
giants of economics – von Mises, Hayek and Friedman.

Otto Inglis

Inveralmond Grove