Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.


RE: Government & Economy in a System of Natural Liberty.

"Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men. The sovereign [government] is completely discharged from a duty, in the attempting to perform which he [they or it] must always be exposed to innumerable delusions, and for the proper performance of which no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient: the duty of superintending the industry of private people, and of directing it toward the employments most suitable to the interest of the society. According to the system of natural liberty, the sovereign [government] has only three duties to attend to, three duties of great importance, indeed, but plain and intelligible to common understandings: first, the duty of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies; secondly, the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice; and thirdly, the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works and certain public institutions, which it can never be for the interest of any individual, or small number of individuals, to erect and maintain, because the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to a great society."

      Adam Smith, THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (1776).

RE: What Promotes a Society's Economic Growth--Government Regulation or Individual Self-Interest?

"No regulation of commerce can increase the quantity of industry in any society beyond what its capital can maintain. It can only divert a part of it into a direction into which it might not otherwise have gone; and it is by no means certain that this artificial direction is likely to be more advantageous to the society than that into which it would have gone of its own accord.

"Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society, which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to the society."

      Adam Smith, THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (1776).

RE: Economic Freedom & the "Invisible Hand".

"As every individual ... endeavors as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value, every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends 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. 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. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."

      Adam Smith, THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (1776).

RE: Market Economics & the Chief Incentive to Promote the Welfare of Others-- Benevolence versus Self-Interest.

"Man has almost constant occasion for the help of his bretheren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favor, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices [goods and services, benefits, advantages, and rewards] which we stand in need of. It is not from benevolence of the butcher, brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantage."

      Adam Smith, THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (1776).

RE: Economic Freedom versus an Economy Centrally Controlled & Directed by the Government.

"What is the species of domestic industry which his capital can employ, and of which the produce is likely to be of the greatest value, every individual, it is evident, can, in his local situation, judge much better than any statesman or lawgiver can do for him. The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it."

      Adam Smith, THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (1976).

RE: International Free Trade.

"To give the monopoly of the home market to the produce of domestic industry, in any particular art or manufacture, is in some measure to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, and must, in almost all cases, be either a useless or a hurtful regulation. If the produce of domestic [industry] can be brought there as cheap as that of foreign industry, the regulation is evidently useless. If it cannot, it must generally be hurtful. It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy. The tailor does not attempt to make his own shoes, but buys them of the shoemaker. The shoemaker does not attempt to make his own clothes, but employs a tailor. The farmer attempts to make neither the one nor the other, but employs those different artificers. All of them find it for their interest to employ their whole industry in a way in which they have some advantage over their neighbors, and to purchase with a part of its produce, or what is the same thing, with the price of a part of it, whatever else they have occasion for.

"What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry employed in a way in which we have some advantage."

      Adam Smith, THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (1776).

RE: Economy, Government, & the Non-Intervention Principle.

"... in all the more advanced communities, the great majority of things are worse done by the intervention of government, than the individuals most interested in the matter would do them, or cause them to be done, if left to themselves. ... people understand their own business and their own interests better, and care for them more, than the government does, or can be expected to do. This maxim holds true throughout the greatest part of the business of life, and wherever it is true we ought to condemn every kind of government intervention that conflicts with it. The inferiority of government, for example, in any of the common operations of industry or commerce, is proved by the fact, that it is hardly ever able to maintain itself in equal competition with individual agency, where the individuals possess the requisite degree of industrial enterprise, and can command the necessary assemblage of means. All the facilities which a government enjoys of access to information; all the means which it possesses of remunerating and therefore commanding, the best available in the market--are not an equivalent for the one great disadvantage of an inferior interest in the result...."

      John Stuart Mill, PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY (1848).

RE: Wise & Frugal Government--An Essential Condition of Human Happiness.

"What more is necessary to make us a wise and happy people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens--a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities."

      Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address (1801).

RE: Thomas Jefferson's Evaluation of the Works of European Classical Liberals.

"If your views of political inquiry go ... to the subjects of money and commerce, [Adam] Smith's Wealth of Nations is the best book to be read, unless [Jean Baptiste] Say's Political Economy can be had, which treats the same subject on the same principles, but in a shorter compass and more lucid manner."

      Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Norvell (1807).

RE: The Worth of a State.

"The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it; and ... a State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands, even for beneficial purposes--will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished."

      John Stuart Mill, ON LIBERTY (1859).

RE: Government Control & Direction of Economic Activity.

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread."

      Thomas Jefferson, AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTE (1821)

RE: Individuality & Political Liberty.

"Individuality is the aim of political liberty. By leaving to the citizen as much freedom of action and of being as comports with order and the rights of others, the institutions render him truly a free man. He is left to pursue his means of happiness in his own manner."

      J. Fenimore Cooper, THE AMERICAN DEMOCRAT (1838).

RE: Rights of the Individual.

"I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man's rights."

      Abraham Lincoln, Speech, Chicago, Illinois (1858).

RE: True Freedom.

"The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it."

      John Stuart Mill, ON LIBERTY (1859).

RE: Individualism & Ordered Liberty versus Collectivism & the Planned Society.

"There are some principles that cannot be compromised. Either we shall have a society based upon ordered liberty and the initiative of the individual, or we shall have a planned society that means dictation no matter what you call it or who does it. There is no half-way ground. They cannot be mixed. Government must either release the powers of the individual for honest achievement or the very forces it creates will drive it inexorably to lay its paralyzing hand more and more heavily upon individual effort.

"... we have seen the advance of collectivism and its inevitable tyranny in more than half the civilized world. In this thundering era of world crisis distracted America stands confused and uncertain.

"Throughout the land there are multitutes of people who have listened to the songs of sirens. Thousands of men, if put to the choice, would willingly exchange liberty for fancied security even under dictatorship. Under their distress they doubt the value of their own rights and liberties. They do not see the Constitution as a fortress for their deliverance. They have been led to believe that it is an iron cage against which the wings of idealism beat in vain.

"They do not realize that their only relief and their hope of economic security can come only from the enterprise and initiative of free men.

"... the source of economic prosperity is freedom. Man must be free to use his own powers in his own way. Free to think, to speak, to worship. Free to plan his own life. Free to use his own initiative. Free to dare in his own adventure. It is the essence of true liberalism that these freedoms are limited by the rights of others."

      Herbert Clark Hoover, Speech, Republican National Conven-
            tion (1936).

RE: The Connection Between Tyranny & Absence of Individual Initiative.

"In proportion as the people are accustomed to manage their affairs by their own active intervention, instead of leaving them to the government, their desires will turn to repelling tyranny, rather than to tyrannizing; while in proper proportion as all real initiative and direction resides in the government, and individuals habitually feel and act as under its perpetual tutelage, popular institutions develop in them not the desire of freedom, but an unmeasured appetite for place [position] and power; diverting the intelligence and activity of the country from its principal business to a wretched competition for the selfish prizes and the petty vanities of office."

      John Stuart Mill, PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY (1848).

RE: Big Government & Human Happiness.

"A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away."

      Barry Morris Goldwater, Speech (1964).

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