We are led to believe by McCain and Palin that “spreading the wealth” is the same thing as socialism. What Would Adam Smith Do?
The principle that Obama evinced, which most economists would regard as unexceptionable, can be traced to Adam Smith. In “The Wealth of Nations” (1776), his seminal treatise on capitalism, Smith wrote:
The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. . . . The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. . . . It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.
- Adam Smith, quoted in the New Yorker, October 27 2008
Do you pal around with Adam Smith the socialist?