TV Worth Watching: The Real Adam Smith

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It’s difficult to imagine that a man who lived with horse-drawn carriages and sailing ships would foresee our massive 21st-century global market exchange, much less the relationship between markets and morality. But Adam Smith was no ordinary 18th-century figure. Considered the “father of modern economics,” Smith was first and foremost a moral philosopher. The revolutionary ideas he penned in The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments changed the world.

Swedish author, commentator and Cato Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explores Adam Smith’s life, his ideas about morality and economics, and how the concepts he discussed in his books and lectures are still relevant today.

Morality & Markets:

Part One, “Morality & Markets,” explores Smith’s life and role in the Scottish Enlightenment, his thoughts on empathy and how we distinguish right from wrong. French wine, Scottish whiskey, and freshly-baked scones all illustrate Smith’s economic principles. True wealth is defined. We discover Smith’s thoughts on the government’s role in markets, his distaste for monopolies/crony capitalism in the form of the East India Company, and his thoughts on the American colonies.

Ideas That Changed the World:

Part Two, “Ideas That Changed the World,” explores contemporary life and Smith’s influences on the very things we see going on today. Why is Smith widely studied now in China? Ethical businesses, like Whole Foods, showcase the morality Smith insisted was critical to thriving markets. Uber, eBay and even a tiny guitar store demonstrate that markets can thrive through the organization and “self-policing” of the participants themselves.

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