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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where did that description come from?
Talk about revisionist history! Adam Smith deeply suspicious of capitalism--a closet socialist? I don't think so!
Smith argues that even the darker impulses of the human mind generate benefit in a free society. If you want to get rich in a free society, the only way to do it is to come up with something incredibly useful to humankind.
Smith wasn't distrustful of...
Published on Dec 2 2002

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch Out!
I have no criticism with Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations." My criticism is with the Great Minds Series edition of the book. The Great Minds Series is an abridged version. Huge chunks have been edited out of the book, yet nowhere do they let you know this before making the purchase. I bought this book specifically because I wanted to cite it, and I can't...
Published on June 19 2002


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch Out!, June 19 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
I have no criticism with Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations." My criticism is with the Great Minds Series edition of the book. The Great Minds Series is an abridged version. Huge chunks have been edited out of the book, yet nowhere do they let you know this before making the purchase. I bought this book specifically because I wanted to cite it, and I can't because the parts I wanted to quote have been edited out.
Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" is a worthy book for any private library, but purchase an edition other than the one offered by the so-called "Great Minds Series."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where did that description come from?, Dec 2 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Wealth of Nations (Hardcover)
Talk about revisionist history! Adam Smith deeply suspicious of capitalism--a closet socialist? I don't think so!
Smith argues that even the darker impulses of the human mind generate benefit in a free society. If you want to get rich in a free society, the only way to do it is to come up with something incredibly useful to humankind.
Smith wasn't distrustful of capitalism--he was distrustful of statism and merchantalism, of government handouts and bureaucrats who know best. That was the order of the day in Smith's time. The government regulations for the French textile industry between 1666 and 1730 took up 2,000 pages.
*That's* what Smith was distrustful of, not capitalism!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still an amazing accomplishment, Jan. 18 2004
By 
Jeremy M. Milstein (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
I really wonder how many people have ever read this book--especially those who deal with economic issues (say Congress or the President). Of course, some of the ideas have become dated because the world of 2004 isn't the world of 1776. However, what's amazing is what has held. So much of this book is still basic economic theory. Plus, its not as if Smith had predecessors who he could follow. Smith is one of those people who will still be remember in 2500 or 3000 and deservedly so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book of economic development - the first one!, Feb. 24 2003
By 
emanriqu "emanriqu" (AREQUIPA, AREQUIPA Peru) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
For a third world citizen, like me, this book seems to be written a couple years ago. Their topics are present in the political agenda of our governments right today, and after all other reviewers have written, better than I would do so, i should add four key points:
- With no proper political institutions there is no possibility of creating wealth (it reminds me sad examples from today...Argentina?). Smith thinks it is very important having economic liberties, besides independent magistrates, and a national state committed to enforce the contracts privates sign up to make transactions when some party doesn't want to comply them.
- Under the right framework of political institutions is posible to have private interests and public interest converging on the same "bargain zone". Under Smith's point of view is the mercantilism, as a policy of state, policy that picks up the winners since the desk of politicians instead of from the shops of every-day industry and parsimony of workers and entrepreuners what creates the conflict (even though he makes some exceptions, like the Navigation Act, but he regards the need of this monopoly of english navy by national security reasons only).
- After the short-run adjustments, the income distribution matters, that are so important for politicians, should be resolved by the market and the entrepreuners whom, by searching opportunities to make more profits, will make converging the prices of land, labour and goods.
- The accumulation of capital is the process that lowers interest rates, expands the supply of loans and suports higher degrees of division of labour in the economy. This process should let people have cheaper goods along the time and improve the wages of workers. The tax system should not stop this process, by "punishing" profits and the letting the remaining sources of rent free (wages, and rent of land).
Under Smith's point of view scarcity and poverty are historical and social problems, and their solutions are in history and in social interaction too.There are not worlds beyond every-day reality, as socialists made us to believe some time ago...just trade and division of labour and accumulation of capital, and so on. Let history and people surprise us. They will make the wealth, not the governments. The Smith system is open to history and change, and learnship, and only requires good foundations to secure an historical outcome of wealth.
The world of today has institutions that were not in XVIIIth century: global financial institutions and spread trade agreements, that create barriers at some places and open gates at anothers. And now we have new constraints (the environment,..) and new key players (global corporations, ..). But this new scene only makes smaller the room of economic policy choices for latin american governments. At the core of the room which is remaining for them, the Smith's suggestions still have urgent and actual importance.
Sad thing to recognize that in XXIst century latin america, we need to read a great book from XVIIIst century to find out solutions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Great Minds Series version has parts missing!, Sept. 26 1999
By 
Daniel Krawisz (Austin, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
I was origionally reading the text version of this book on the internet until the printed version came. I was downtroden, sickened, and even frightened to find that the Great Minds Series version of The Wealth of Nations is incomplete, yet gives no indication whatsoever of being so.
The introduction and chapters 2, 3, and 4 of book 3 are simply not there. They are not even listed in the table of contents. There is no discrepency in the page numbers, or any other teletale indication that it is incomplete. It is not written anywhere that it is an abrigement.
I want to point out how careless it is and how misleading to the reader in comprehending the philosophy of Adam Smith to print an incomplete book without any warning.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wealth is the product of labor, June 23 2004
This review is from: The Wealth of Nations (Hardcover)
I appreciate that for most readers, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is going to be a deadly dull read, although I think this is a pity. With a little discipline, I think that the erudite reader will take away many enriching (yes, pun intended) lessons from Smith's ground breaking treatise. For me, as a business professional and business student (I have an MBA), the Wealth of Nations was a Damascus Road experience.
I think there are several myths about economics that are exploded by a first hand reading of Wealth of Nations. Many supply side economists eagerly tout Smith's "invisible hand" metaphor in advocating deregulated markets, but in my view, Smith took a balanced and integrated approach in analyzing the supply and demand sides of national economy. In the first chapter Smith notes that national wealth is the production of labor. This has dual implications in that production is the creation of supply, but the labor force consumes that supply by trading the resulting wealth. These are two sides to the same coin, & therefore indivisible. Also in the first chapter, Smith notes that increasingly sophisticated economies will employ a division of labor to increase production efficiency, which is another concept that necessarily integrates supply and demand, production and consumption.
Smith devotes quite a bit of time lamenting governmental intrusion into economics by way of regulation. However, he does not condemn government regulation per se, but make very specific criticisms against those state regulatory polices that tend to create monopolies. None of his comments are strictly political in nature. Smith's analysis is purely based on economics & the efficient allocation of capital. He views the enemy not as the King's ministers, but rather the monopolies that were so prevalent during the 18th century mercantile system.
On a related note, I think it is clear that Smith would be horrified by the military centric nature of many post-industrial economies today. He notes that a standing army is a drain on national wealth. Essentially the state is paying workers not to work, but rather to stand ready to fight. I suspect that Smith would view large state defense budgets as being most closely akin to a transfer payment made by a welfare state. For those who will scream invective at me for saying this, please remember that the largest item on any defense budget by far, is payroll.
Finally, as an amateur historian, I enjoyed the brief glimpse into what life was like in the 18th century Empire from an economist's perspective. Various parts of his book review social welfare systems of his day, as well as international banking, political economy, agrarian systems, and life in general.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Tao of Economics, May 14 2003
By 
Margaret Magnus (Francestown, NH USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
This is one of the truly great books produced by the Western world. Although much has been written on economics since, it considerably broadened my perspective to read it in the original.
I can't help feeling that those who pan Wealth of Nations as an apology for exploitation simply haven't read it. Thatï¿s simply not what the book is about. For if you really do care about the underpriveleged masses -- and it's imminently clear that he really does -- then you better consciously organize your state in such a manner that money will flow naturally where it's most needed.
I'd been told before I read it by several people that AS was, for example, apologizing for the East India Trading Company? Does his apology for EIT include the lengthy chapter which discuss in full detail how and why the East India Trading Company was responsible for an wide array of abuses in the Far East, and why no similar company would be legal if a society were fully moral and knew its own best interest?
Nor is it a blind apology for laissez faire economics, though it does recommend non-intervention by the government insofar as that is possible. Still he fully recognizes the need for social services, rightly understood and rightly executed.
In fact, I can't see how anyone who reads it could view it as an apology at all -- it's simply a statement of fact. Adam Smith is not the one carrying an ideology around on his shoulder. You may not like it that the world works this way -- that's another matter. But that IS the way it works... you are made to see that for yourself. It is not imposed on you as dogma.
And after reading AS, I'm left feeling very happy that that's the way the world works.
I think the most fundamental idea I am left with after reading all those pages, is that wealth is a verb, not a noun. Land and labor (i.e. food and farming) are the bottom line of economics. Treat your farmers well. Unjust practices in trading will ultimately backfire.
The dynamo which runs the machine that creates wealth lies within each individual - it is the individualï¿s will to better his or her condition. To the degree that this aspect of human nature is given the power to express itself , the nation will be vitalized internally.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A seminal book in Economics, Feb. 12 2003
By 
Roberto P. De Ferraz "ferraz9" (Sao Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wealth of Nations (Hardcover)
The Scottish Adam Smith is certainly the most important economists of all times and is the founder of modern economic thought, being "The Wealth of the Nations" his major work, where he introduces to the general public of his time - the book was first published in 1776 - new concepts and ideas as "competitive advantage", "divison of labour", "the power of the invisible hand", and many others still powerfull today, even accounting for the changes happened in the world economy and politics. From this starting point, a crucial juncture in the world economy, that is, the beginning of the industrialisation in England, many renowed economists and social scientists construed their theories. To name a few? Karl Marx, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill and many others acknowledge the importance of Adam Smith's work to their theories. Besides this opus, he did a lot in the field of philosophy, but was to become known as the father of the Classic school of economics. One of not so many Economics excelent Classic books to read. Enjoy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Immortal Prequel to Marx's 'Capital', Nov. 5 2002
By 
William R. Krapek (Dallas, Tx United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wealth of Nations (Hardcover)
A couple of years ago I went to a local bookstore determined to read 'Capital' as well as 'Wealth of Nations,' but since there wasn't a copy of the latter available at the time, I picked up the former, waded through all three volumes (which were very hard and took me 18 months), then went back to Smith. This is a review of the Modern Library hardcover edition, which I ordered here at Amazon.com.
Let it be said right off the bat that the big thing Marx gets trashed for has roots right here in the 'W of N:' namely, the Labor Theory of Value. Both Volume One of 'Capital' and 'W of N' spend the first 100 pages or so going over it. Both refer back to it constantly in later pasages. And both must be taken off the table without it. The LTV boils down to this: all value is created by people working and producing goods and services that other people need and/or want. Furthermore, they must produce these goods and services at at least the average level of productivity and at the appropriate level of demand. Otherwise you're working either harder or more easily for your cut of the national pie than you otherwise would. The LTV is so straightforward and intuitive you'd think there wouldn't be much of an argument.
The one thing Smith stresses throughout the book is the need for what he calls 'perfect liberty,' where everyone is allowed to buy and sell what they want from where ever they'd like. With this, resources would be diverted to where they needed to be as quickly as possible so people would stop wasting their time WORKING (see how the LTV operates here?) on things that should be made elsewhere.
It's important to understand that neither the words 'capital' nor 'capitalist' ever occur in this work. This is very important because both words carry baggage Smith would break no bread with. In fact, the main bad guys in this work are the very people we would call 'capitalist' today. They subvert Parliament through bribery and intimidation, protect their own interests at the expense of everybody else in society, and raise unholy hell when workers try to form unions. All the while, of course, they form unions amongst themselves with the express purpose of stabbing the rest of us in the back.
Sound familiar?
Let me give you a modern example of how desperately we need American economists to actually pick up and read this book, as opposed to just talking about what a good boy Adam Smith was. Contrary to the propaganda we're getting out of our media, alternative sources of energy are now ready for prime time. There's nothing the internal combustion engine can do that hydrogen fuel cells can't do better. The price of solar cells has been dropping like a rock for years. And wind power is now the second cheapest source of energy after dirty coal. All we need to do is divert all that money we use to protect our oil resources into building up the economy of scale for these products (i.e. reducing the amount of WORK necessary to build each unit; this is the LTV lurking around again), and turn all these into cheap bulk commodities. We'll also need to use this money to build up the infrastructure necessary to safely deliver and store hydrogen. Then, after these (admittedly) high entry costs (i.e. expenditures of LABOR), we'll have access to unlimited, clean, and cheap sources of energy. The nonsense we have instead, which came to serious crises in 2001 in California with the impeachable collusion of the Bush administration, has nothing to do with Adam Smith's great work. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty tired of socializing the risk while privatizing the profits for this industry. Our current urge to go to war with Iraq precisely reflects the urge of 18th century statesmen to protect the interest of the mercantilist (capitalist!!) masters. This was a tragedy Smith covers quite extensively.
As an added bonus he's a great read. After working so hard on Marx I was very happily surprised.
Karl Marx brought the LTV to a fine polish, going beyond Adam Smith and showing how it translates into the average rate of profit, interest rates, standard of living, etc. He picked up where Smith left off. Also, using the weapon of dialectical materialism (i.e. the logic of motion and change -- the true heart of Marxism), Marx was able to show how capitalism, in fact, negates private property. It would have turned us all into slaves decades ago if not for the better angels or our nature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The father of the classical economists, Oct. 24 2002
By 
Michael P. Hussey Jr. (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
Adam Smith, the father of the classical economists (followed by Ricardo and Marx), was also one the first economists to understand the role of the market with respect to understanding the natural price of an object.
"The natural price, or the price of free competition...is the lowest which can be taken, not upon every occasion indeed, but for any considerable time together...<It> is the lowest which the sellers can commonly afford to take, and at the same time continue their business."
It is through free individual selfish actions, Smith explains, as though guided by the famous "invisible hand," that produces a society with the greatest and most prosperous distribution of resources.
Some people call him the "father of capitalism." What most people may not understand is how Smith unknowing laid the groundwork for Marx's Das Kapital, by wrongly attributing "value" to the labor inputs into a good. It was not until Carl Menger in 1871 explined that value was created "on the margin," rather then through a good or service's labor inputs.
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An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: A Selected Edition
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