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Extra resources for Wealth, Power, and the Crisis of Laissez Faire Capitalism

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32 Smith’s emphasis was on preventing government, or the “legislator,” from attempting to direct economic affairs. In the international arena this translated into a recommendation that nations accept existing conditions and seek the best trade position possible given those conditions. Domestically it means the least government possible. Rae observed that to Smith, the creation of wealth is a by-product of the pursuit of self-interest and this pursuit is the basis of a natural system. When we say, a thing is produced by art, we mean, that it is the result of the agency of man, designedly directed to its production.

The American School or American System thinkers all believed in the use of government to stimulate, support, and encourage progress in human and technological capabilities. ). This opposition to American System policies was not a tightly organized collection of people. By European standards, particularly English standards, the opponents of the American System were not fabulously wealthy. They did not have an institutional capacity to formulate national strategies, and they did not have any institutional capacity to implement such strategies.

79 Note that in the third paragraph the term “colonial system” replaces “free trade” and is used as a synonym for free trade; both are juxtaposed with protection. He is arguing, among other things, that protectionism works better than free trade, for both those nations promoting free trade and those acquiescing in it. Carey was making the case that America had to adopt or maintain protectionist measures to develop its economy and to challenge the monopoly position that England’s more advanced economy enjoyed.

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