Sunday, March 30, 2008

Self interest is not a catchall synonym for something that always has ‘positive’ outcomes

"Earth Hour" and the Dark Ages (by Don Boudreaux) from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux

I sent the following letter to Carter Roberts, President of the WWF:
Dear Mr. Roberts:
You and members of your organization worry that industrialization and economic growth are harming the earth's environment. I worry that the intensifying hysteria about the state of the environment - and that the resulting hostility to economic growth - might harm humankind's prospects for comfortable, healthy, enjoyable, and long lives.
So I commend you on your "Earth Hour" effort. Persuading people across the globe to turn off lights for one hour will supply the perfect symbol for modern environmentalism: a collective effort to return humankind to the dark ages.
Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux


Correct Vision of Outsourcing (though not about Adam Smith) from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy

I agree that ‘self-interest is tied to creation, not preservation’ if this means that self interest should be tied to innovation. That it isn’t underlines my remarks in the previous post that self interest is not a catchall synonym for something that always has ‘positive’ outcomes.

Unless we realise this, unlike the Chicago epigones who have created a different Adam Smith than the man born in Kirkcaldy, we could make errors in equating a business person’s, any and every business person’s, behaviours and actions as being in the best interests of society. They may be and should be so but the evidence suggests they are not always so.

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