Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone, and welcome to the 155th episode of the Atlas Society. Asks, my name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I'm the c e o of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit, introducing young people to the ideas of Iran in fresh, creative ways, graphic novels, animated videos. Uh, today we are joined by Dr. Eman Butler. Before I even begin to introduce our guest, I wanna remind all of you who are watching us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. You can start using the comment section to type in your questions. We'll get to as many of them as we can. So, in a sense, you might say that we have two guests today. One is Adam Smith, uh, the great Scottish Enlightenment, economist and philosopher, born in 1723, and celebrate the 300th anniversary of his birth. Uh, we've invited a friend who's better positioned than anyone I know to discuss Smith's life and legacy. Uh, eman Butler is a British economist and co-founder of the Adam Smith Institute, a UK-based free market think tank. He is, uh, the author of countless articles and numerous books on a wide range of subjects ranging from economics to psychology, to politics. Some of its hi latest works, include a Rand and Introduction, capitalism and Introduction, and an Introduction to Democracy. Eman, thanks for joining us. Oh,
Speaker 1 00:01:50 It's very good to be with you. Thanks. Thanks very much for having me. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:01:55 So, uh, before turning to the Birthday, boy, I'm sure our audience would like to first start by learning a bit more about you, where you grew up, any early influences that motivated your passion for classically liberal ideas.
Speaker 1 00:02:13 Well, I was born in, uh, rural shop in England. Uh, and, uh, my, my parents, uh, together ran a, a small filling station. Um, so I sort of grew up knowing what it was like to run a small business and all of the problems about small business. So I suppose that that was, uh, uh, a part of my education. And then I went to university in Scotland, and there was, um, you know, quite a big, uh, uh, libertarian group, really, I think you'd call it. Uh, and, uh, we did, uh, we read our Friedman and Hayak and, uh, uh, Adam Smith, but we also read, uh, iron Rand and, uh, that I, I think, again, was, uh, very influential. And then in the, in the 1970s when the UK was, the economy was really, uh, going downhill at a, a rapid rate. Um, I, and, and colleagues, uh, uh, followed a lot of other people by joining what was called the brain drain. So we went to America and, uh, uh, found lots of, uh, interesting new, new ideas there. I worked on Capital Hill for a while and, and, and taught for a while before I came back to help, uh, found the Adam Smith Institute.
Speaker 0 00:03:24 So I actually hadn't realized that, uh, you'd worked in the US House of Representatives back in the 1970s. Any interesting stories from that experience?
Speaker 1 00:03:36 Well, two things, uh, spring to mind as a very junior person, uh, I, I had the dog's body job of, uh, reading the Federal Register, which is where all the new regulations are posted. And, uh, I realized that at the end of a year, I'd read 127,142 pages of regulation. And I thought, that's really a bit much, isn't it? I mean, nobody could, could possibly read all of that. Well, I, I, I could only skim it. I mean, nobody could read it, nevermind, understand it. So what, you know, why do you have all this regulation? I thought it was a very strange place. And the other thing, uh, which, um, was very educational for me was the Farm Bill. And the Farm Bill was, uh, going through Congress and, and I, I read it and I pointed out that, well, most of it is about subsidizing farmers, but then bolted on at the end is a piece about, uh, legislation, about food stamps.
Speaker 1 00:04:32 And I said, well, food stamps are the welfare program, and the Farm bill is, is is a farm program. What's going on? And, uh, my colleagues looked at me as if I had come from Mars, I was an idiot. And they said, well, it's quite simple. All the Republicans vote for the farm subsidies, and all of the Democrats vote for the welfare benefits, so everybody's happy. And I said, well, yes, apart from the, uh, American taxpayer, perhaps <laugh>. So I thought that sort of coalition building was something that we could use, um, to reverse things when we came to the uk. And so, uh, and the UK had got, I got involved in privatization and things like that, and we used the same idea of building coalitions to, to reduce the state rather than to build it up.
Speaker 0 00:05:19 All right. Well, I'm gonna take a pause and remind everybody that we are taking your questions live. Uh, Dr. Butler is joining us from England, so it's a little bit later there. Um, but let's start filling up the, uh, pantry with questions and we'll get to them shortly. So, um, eman you also taught philosophy at Hillsdale College. Obviously, philosophy is very important to us at the out in society. Any particular aspect or philosopher that you favored?
Speaker 1 00:05:54 Oh, well, um, I'm going to get into your band books because, uh, really, I taught the British sh empiricists, you know, Locke, Barkley, Hume, uh, these sorts of people, uh, people who were skeptical about, about reality. Um, so I think, and, and that was really the tradition that I was, uh, brought up in. Now having gone to university in Scotland, uh, it's almost inevitable that you end up as a Scottish empiricist. Um, and as was Jim and as was, uh, Adam Smith and, and so on. Um, so that was really the, the, the tradition. And that's, that's what I was, that's what I was bringing to the department, really. So, uh, I don't think a Iran would've approved, but that's what I did.
Speaker 0 00:06:35 <laugh> Uh, tell us about the story behind your decision to start the Adam Smith Institute, um, and its mission, and whether that's changed over the years.
Speaker 1 00:06:48 Well, it has changed. We thought we'd be much more academic than we are, and, and we're really a more, more of a policy group, although we do some, uh, some research and, and long term, uh, thinking. Uh, but, uh, as I say, there were, there were three of us, in fact, uh, who had all joined the brain drain, gone to America. And when we were there, we saw some interesting things that, uh, we were told, um, we're impossible in the uk. I mean, for example, you had competition in telephones. And, you know, my profe economics professor in St. Andrew's University told me that that was theoretically impossible. You couldn't have competition in telephones. And then similarly, we saw people like Senator Kennedy saying, oh, we should have a, a British style national health service. We thought, oh, no, <laugh>, that's the last thing you want. It's horrible. So we decided that, you know, Britain's our country, and we, we'd give it one more go. Uh, but, um, what we would try to do is to swap ideas across the Atlantic. Um, as it turned out, um, not very long after we came back, Mrs. Stacher was elected in the uk. So we had a bit of an open goal to promote, uh, pro freedom and, uh, free market, uh, policies here in the uk. And that's really been most of our work ever since.
Speaker 0 00:08:04 Well, as one think tank leader to another, I'm curious to pick your brain on what has been the biggest challenge, uh, that you've found in running a worldclass think tank?
Speaker 1 00:08:16 Oh, it hasn't been a challenge. It's been a Kate walk. It's been very easy <laugh>. I think, you know what, you shouldn't underestimate. There were very few of us, and, uh, um, until recently, we, we, we, we remained very small. And you shouldn't underestimate what a few dedicated people with some, some vision can actually a, a achieve, you can achieve an awful lot. Um, and, uh, I, I think the important thing is to, is to keep your focus that you, you, you've got to know what it is that you are doing and not be diverted over 40 years of running think tanks. Um, you know, I've seen think tanks come and go, and one of the things is, well, if people decide perhaps they might have more influence in politics, so they get too political, and then they, they get, you know, branded as, as being part of one party or another, and then nobody takes 'em seriously anymore, or other think tanks. They, they think, oh, well, if we write a, a report on this subject, then big business will give us a lot of money. So again, you lose your soul there. So I think you, you know, you've got to, you've gotta have a vision as to what it is that you're doing and why you are doing it, and stick to that. Um, and, uh, you know, my other rule is, um, never do anything that you are not prepared to see on the front page of the newspapers <laugh>. Uh, and that keeps you clean.
Speaker 0 00:09:38 Uh, yes, true more than ever these days in our mouse, uh, surveillance state. So, um, in addition to writing about Adam Smith, you've written about other pioneering economists, including Ese fa Hayek, Milton Friedman. Uh, we've done a Draw My Life video on Van Meese, which given his connection to Rand and his dramatic escape from the Nazis of, of course, his own monumental achievements, uh, it lent itself very well to that kind of, um, project, an animated video that, uh, was encapsulated, um, in a first person narrative. What other economists or philosopher's life would you recommend to us for such a dramatization? I think you've said that Adam Smith's life was a bit boring, but he was kidnapped by gypsies at some point. So there's that.
Speaker 1 00:10:39 It said that he was Kip uh, kidnapped by, by va, yes. And, uh, there's not really very much evidence for it, but, but it, it might, it might have happened. And he was a typical ab absent-minded professor, and he, uh, he would often be so bound up in his own thoughts, he would, uh, walk outta the house in his dressing gown. And, uh, you know, he, he didn't, uh, realize that he'd done that until the church bells from the village 10 miles away, uh, uh, stirred him out of his, outta his self-absorption. Uh, and, and he also, one day when he was talking to somebody, put bread and butter in the teapot instead of tea. So these are really the most exciting things that ever happened to him. Apart from, apart from, well, I mean, he did, um, um, once he published his first book, um, he got a very, very good job, uh, as tutor to a young aristocrat.
Speaker 1 00:11:31 And that took him around Europe, where he, he decided to write more about, uh, economics. So, so that really made him the, the economist. Uh, but otherwise he, it was a pretty boring life in, in a married and so on. No, I think a much more exciting person is actually from the, uh, the 17th century. One of my particular favorites, he's called John Lilburn, um, English, um, uh, uh, thinker. And, um, he was known as freeborn John because, uh, he thought that everybody was born free, and this was a revolutionary idea at the time. And he, um, he produced pamphlets on this, and pamphlets beating up the government for having too much, uh, control over people's lives, um, for which he was promptly put in prison, uh, because, uh, you couldn't, uh, publish anything in the 17th century unless you had a, a seal of approval from, uh, a government agency, basically the stationers' company.
Speaker 1 00:12:28 So he was put in prison for, uh, illicitly producing stuff. Um, and then he was, uh, arraigned at the, the star Chamber, which is sort of secret court. And, uh, he famously refused to bow to the judges on the grounds that, you know, he was in his role as the accused, they were in their roles, the accusers. They were both doing their job <laugh>, so why should he bow to anybody? And for that, he was, uh, put, put in the stocks and qued, and even in the stocks as he was, uh, they, you know, they're, they're in the stocks. Uh, he was handing out these pamphlets to, to passing members of the public. And so he spent, you know, very large, and then he got put in jail again for something else. So he spent a very large part of his life in prison simply for defending freedom. I think it's a wonderful story.
Speaker 0 00:13:19 Yeah. Okay. I'm gonna check that out. That has a lot of elements that I think we can work with. Um, all right, we'll turn to the birthday boy now, uh, Adam Smith and the 300 year anniversary of his birth. In thinking about a man who influenced the thinking of so many, who were some of the people who influenced his thinking in his day
Speaker 1 00:13:44 When, well, he was very lucky because he, um, he was, uh, uh, born on the East coast of Scotland, uh, and spent some time in Edinburgh where he met, uh, Adams, where he met David Hume. The, uh, the, the great, uh, philosopher, um, who I, I think was one of the cleverest people in all of history. And, and was a very nice of uncle a man, and, and, and helped him enormously, in fact, um, hum. Uh, gave Adam Smith a copy of his book, the Treatise of His Human Nature. Um, and he was lucky to, uh, Smith was lucky to go to Glasgow University, uh, which he did at the age of 14. Um, and, uh, he, he actually took, uh, human's book along with him, but was, um, promptly punished because this hum was a great atheist. And this was thought to be a terrible stuff, that you could have this book by this atheist.
Speaker 1 00:14:39 So Smith was punished for that. Uh, but, uh, otherwise he met some of the, the great thinkers of his age, uh, because, you know, Scotland was, was going through an intellectual renaissance. I think probably the biggest influence on on him was the philosopher, uh, Francis Hutchinson, who, again, another philosopher of, of Liberty. Um, and I think that that had a, a, a major impact. And then I think the, the other thing that I suppose influenced him was that he won a scholarship to go to Bayfield College Oxford, and he went to Bayfield College Oxford, and he discovered there that, um, the, the professors got paid, whether they taught or not. So he said, famously, the, uh, the greater parts of the professors in, in Oxford have given up altogether, even the pretense of teaching <laugh> because they've paid whether or not. So I think that was probably quite an important, uh, influence on his life, uh, and ideas and, and early lesson in, in incentives. Really
Speaker 0 00:15:43 Interesting. I didn't know that. All right, we're gonna turn to questions in a little bit. So everybody keep on typing those in. I'm not ignoring you. We're gonna get to you shortly. Uh, but I am curious Eman of, um, Adam Smith's two major works, the Wealth Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments, which is your favorite and why?
Speaker 1 00:16:07 Uh, well, I like the, the Theory of Moral Sentiments, just cuz mostly cuz people don't understand that that's Adam Smith. They, they think of Adam Smith as an economist. He was actually, um, a brilliant, um, philosopher of a moral philosopher as well. And that's the book that ma made his fortune and that made him famous. Uh, it's, it's actually very difficult to, to read these days cuz uh, if you don't know about the debates that were going on at the time, it's, it's difficult to get through and it's written in this very flowery 18th century language. Um, so I, I don't actually recommend anybody should read it, and I don't recommend anybody should read the, uh, the Wealth of Nations either. What you should do is to read my condensed version of The Wealth of Nations <laugh> in the Theory Moral Sentiments, which is much easier and, uh, much shorter. Uh, so that would give you most of the ideas without having to wade through these, uh, you know, 500 or 800 page books.
Speaker 0 00:17:06 Uh, speaking of, what are some of the things that the Adam Smith Institute is doing to commemorate, um, Adam Smith's 300 anniversary of his birth
Speaker 1 00:17:16 Well being British, uh, as you'd expect, we're going to have a booze up and, and we're having, uh, a big party in the House of Lords, uh, later on this month. And, uh, I'm sure a lot of the, the good and the great will be there. Um, I personally have been, uh, going around the world, speaking about Anna Smith in California and Europe in, uh, so I've just come back from Taiwan and, uh, uh, and Korea. Uh, so there's, uh, a a lot of that, uh, sort of thing going wrong, going on, and I'm helping, uh, people at the University of Glasgow. We've got a big, uh, program, uh, intellectual program and, uh, courses and book clubs and all sorts of things like that going on. So it's, it's a surprising amount going on all over the planet, actually.
Speaker 0 00:18:01 Well, yes, indeed. Um, we just got together in Pasadena, California, uh, at the Reason Weekend, which, um, had a theme of celebrating, uh, Adam Smith's birthday, even with Adam Smith. Oh, yeah, yeah. Cupcake. So that was, that was really exciting. Um, tell me how controversial were Smith's works in his own day?
Speaker 1 00:18:27 Well, uh, I think his moral philosophy was unpopular with Churchmen because, um, he, he gives a sort of evolutionary, uh, explanation of morality that it's, uh, that, that, that we are born, uh, wanting to be good to other people, basically, uh, what he calls sympathy. And, um, uh, so I don't think they liked it very much. But otherwise, I think most people, certainly most, uh, educated people of the day, um, thought, Hey, this guy is really on the beam. Um, because, uh, his e economic ideas we're just breathtakingly new. He invented concepts like gross national product and things that we still use today. And, uh, and his moral philosophy, again, it was just breathtakingly fresh that, that, no, nobody had thought of that before. Uh, and, uh, so I don't, I don't know that he was all that controversial. I think he was faded where, where wherever he went, it's, uh, you know, like you asked about Adam Smith. No, it was easy for him, <laugh>, it was easy. He didn't have much con controversy. And, and those that did, were were picking up minor points, I think. Really.
Speaker 0 00:19:40 Oh, that's interesting. All right. Going to turn to some of our questions coming in. Cause there are quite a few, uh, on Instagram. Hayden 25 is asking, uh, Dr. Butler, have you ever read Marks any thoughts on Marks?
Speaker 1 00:20:06 No. Again, it's his books. I mean, you can open a page and look at it, and it's, it's complet completely impenetrable. And again, I think that, uh, he is bound up in the debates of the, the time. I, I have read quite a lot of, uh, books about Marx's, uh, uh, philosophy. Um, and in particular his theory of history. Uh, and I think it's a load of junk that, you know, he, he assumes that history has a certain course which is predictable. Uh, and that's going to end up in the great, uh, workers, uh, nirvana. And I, I, I just, I can't understand why this stuff is still clogging up university bookshops, because that didn't happen. Right? <laugh>, you know, you had 150 years and that didn't happen. Uh, what happened instead was that, you know, capitalism developed in such a way that it actually benefited the working class, indeed, more than anybody else.
Speaker 1 00:21:08 So it was the poorest people who ended up, you know, just fine in capitalism. And that continues to happen, happen today, we've got increasing, uh, the increasing world trade since the Berlin War came down. And, and the various reforms in the, in the 1990s has, has brought people throughout the planet into the, into the market system. And that's been particularly good for the poorest people in the poorest countries. I mean, mean dollar a day poverty. When I was born, four fifths of the world lived in dollar a day poverty, um, even by 1988 was about half, uh, and Dorr Day poverty hardly exists anymore. And in a few years, it's not gonnai exist at all. That's the market that's done that. So, um, so, so I think Marx's theory of history is just completely off.
Speaker 0 00:22:01 Our friend Candace Marinna on Facebook is asking, uh, speaking of your upbringing, um, with your parents running a small business, what is your perspective on the UK lockdowns during Covid?
Speaker 1 00:22:18 Well, they were absolutely disastrous, of course. Um, and we now know there's been various studies on John Hoskins, uh, did, did a big, uh, study showing that it, uh, saved very few lives and in fact, probably cost more lives. Because what we've happened, what's happened here is, in particular, our public sector has closed down that, um, we, um, the supermarkets and shops and so on worked out ways of dealing with the virus, um, and trying to keep people as safe as possible. Um, but, uh, we forced, uh, uh, theaters and cafes and restaurants to close down. Um, so that killed the hospitality and hotels too, so that killed the hospitality industry. So we've, we've gotta recover from that. But the, the very worst thing is that the nhs, um, the National Health Service simply couldn't cope with this. And they, uh, postpone lots of people's operations, and now people are dying of, uh, cancer and so on.
Speaker 1 00:23:18 We have 20,000 excess deaths. Um, because people can't get me, couldn't get the medical treatment, they still can't get the medical treatment. Some people are having to wait for many years, uh, to get treatment under the National Health Service. So that all started from the lockdown. And so the lockdown was a, was a complete disaster. And I think people are beginning to realize that it was a complete disaster. And the people who got it right were people like Sweden, uh, who said, well, you know, take care. It's up to you. You know, just be cautious. And people were cautious, uh, but they still weren't about their business, but they went about it in a relatively safe way. So, so yeah, I was disastrous in so many ways.
Speaker 0 00:24:00 Okay. Sarah, uh, gr chat on Instagram asks if you have any thoughts, uh, about Hans Herman Pop?
Speaker 1 00:24:11 I can't say that I like him very much. I don't know him personally, uh, but, um, I,
Speaker 0 00:24:19 I'm not familiar with him. So
Speaker 1 00:24:20 No, some and Herman Hoppy, well, um, he's one of these people that is, is advertised as being a sort of Sian uh, uh, libertarian, but in fact there's a certain authoritarian streak, uh, through, through his writing. So I don't, I don't really like that very much. Having said that, I mean, uh, uh, some of those writers, very challenging. I mean, he, he's, uh, wrote a book about democracy. I, I was read it for when I was doing my own Introduction to Democracy. And, uh, it's, he's really saying, well, no, what you need is a be benign, um, aristocracy, really. And I thought, well, it's okay, but, and he makes the case for this, uh, that, that, you know, you need a country run by a king. Cuz they'll, they'll run it efficiently, <laugh> cause because they, that's their self-interest in, in doing that, I thought, well, that's, you know, it's an interesting academic idea, but, uh, you know, let's not, let's not go down there <laugh>. So I'm not a great fan, I'm afraid.
Speaker 0 00:25:23 Interesting. All right. Um, uh, also on Instagram, cozy cherries asks, and I'm not sure if you'll have an answer to this, but what is the best way we as Americans can fight socialism? Communism, I feel hopeless, not trusting our election process.
Speaker 1 00:25:44 Well, um, I think that you have to,
Speaker 1 00:25:49 I, I think you have to be reasonable and not to be doctrinaire. I think one of the problems with American politics is, is when you, you know, what somebody's position is on one issue such as gun control, you, you know, what it is on abortion and various, and welfare benefits and various other things as well. And I don't think politics should be like that. I think people should, should think, think freely. And, um, I, I, I mean, I think you've got the same problems that, that we have. We have a, we've got a culture war going, going on, and, and I think we, we have to deal with that. But I think you deal with that by just being reasonable and, and, and saying, well, uh, yes. You know, I, I mean, fine, you know, people can change their gender, and I've got absolutely nothing against that at all.
Speaker 1 00:26:37 I mean, I've got friends who've changed gender, but when it comes to should a a male who's changed gender into female be allowed into a female changing room at a sports pavilion, well, you can see that that might cause some problems. So, and people might get agitated about that. So I think that one needs sort of rational solutions to these things and, and tempered solutions to these things. So, so I think my advice is, is don't be dropped to an air, but but be practical and, and see what works. And I think, uh, also, we, we need to invest in, in the education of, of young people. I mean, uh, not by having more teachers, they're, they're the enemy, uh, but, uh, by, you know, getting good stuff out, like, like you do at Atlas to, to getting good material out, which is digestible to, to young people. It's why I write all these, uh, introductions to things and, uh, you know, so that they've got something that can go back to the teachers and say, yeah, well, have you thought about this though? This argument here? So I think it's very important to do that.
Speaker 0 00:27:44 Yeah, I think, um, one of the things that I really admire about, uh, your work eman, is the fact that you've done so many of these, these primers, you know, these kind of condensed introductions. It's similar to what we do at the Atla Society in terms of our pocket guides, pocket guide to Objectivism, pocket, guide to Capitalism, pocket guide to Socialism, et cetera. Um, because one needs to first start with the premises and recognize reality. And the reality is that 77% of young people in the 1970s were reading daily for Pleasure, not things that were assigned that is, uh, dropped to 12% today. So, uh, you can just keep throwing books at them, or you can get creative and, and you can start doing other things. And graphic novels is the one, uh, category that has defied the decline in reading for pleasure. And so that's why we're doing that. But, um, you know, you just have to, you have to change with, with the times.
Speaker 1 00:28:55 Oh, yes. And I think we ought to, on our side, I think we ought to be doing a lot more video work as well. Um, I, I've been trying to organize a, a, a TV documentary on, on the real history of communism, uh, because so many young people in particular think that communism is the be's knees mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and, uh, gosh, it killed a hundred, a hundred million people. Um, so it's, it's not something you should, uh, you should welcome. And the trouble is, of course, that most of the people who remember it are dying off. So we've gotta get their testimony, uh, onto, onto film right now, otherwise it'll be too late. So, so things like that, I think, I, I, I, I think we need to tell more stories on film and geo graphic novels, things like that is, is what we need to do. Yeah. You know, media have changed, right. You know, look at an old copy of a newspaper and it's a very dense print, and people used to read all that stuff, and they don't, they don't do that now. No.
Speaker 0 00:29:53 And, and no, I mean, people are online nine hours a day, uh, average for, for young
Speaker 1 00:29:58 People, get their information through social media and so on. So you have to be active on social media. It's very important.
Speaker 0 00:30:05 All right. On Twitter, speaking of social media, Mark Kirk Cop asks, uh, he says, there's a big meme online about the UK requiring a license for everything. Are licenses a long time economic regulation in the uk?
Speaker 1 00:30:24 Oh, yes. Um, yes. It's a, it's a real problem. In fact, we did a report called Licensed to Live
Speaker 0 00:30:32 <laugh>
Speaker 1 00:30:33 The opposite of the James Bond, you know, licensed to kill. Uh, and, uh, that was, gosh, that must have been at least 20 years ago. And we were pointing out some of the absurdities of, uh, licensing. Like, um, you, you needed a license to be a hairdresser in Scotland, but not in England and, and, and so on. So there are all sorts of things like that. Um, I think, uh, part of the problem is that professions like licensing, because it keeps out the competition you see. So if you can say, oh, I, I'm, I'm an expert and I've got this diploma and you know, I've got a license, uh, then you can say, right, well, people without licenses shouldn't, shouldn't be allowed to practice. So you get much less competition and therefore much less innovation. So that's, that's a real problem. Um, but yes, it is with us.
Speaker 1 00:31:21 And, uh, so much regulation is, is actually promoted by, uh, entrenched business business interests. Uh, and, and I see it over and over and over again in the House of Commons where businesses are talking to members of Parliament and they say, oh, these regulations are working very well, minister. But if you just tweaked it a little bit like that, it will work even better. What they mean is tweak it like that, that'll completely take out the competition <laugh>. So, so I something we have to be aware of. And it's not very easy to fight because every reg regulation is there for a, a reason that it's had people promoting it. And, uh, you know, when you, when you say, this should be scrap people, people will come outta the woodwork and say, oh, no, you can't do that. No, no, this is that, that'll make life unsafe and people will fall off ladders, or whatever it is.
Speaker 1 00:32:08 And, uh, so it's a, it's a real burden to, to get rid of. And I think the only thing you, the only way to do it is basically, uh, do deregulate whole sways of things at one time. And you say to Parliament, in our case, right, we've got a deregulation unit. They think that all of these regulations ought to go, and that's it. Take it or leave it. You can't pick and choose. They've all gotta go, or they've all gotta stay <laugh>. And I think Parliament would end up killing a lot more. And, and after Brexit, we, we've got the opportunity to, to get rid of a lot of, uh, European, uh, regulation, which is extremely detailed. And, uh, we haven't really taken the opportunity, we haven't been organized enough. So, uh, that's, that's a benefit of Brexit, which we've still got to feel
Speaker 0 00:33:00 Lots to do, uh, again, on Instagram. Robert Steven Mack asks, uh, what is your favorite book by Ein Rand?
Speaker 1 00:33:12 Oh, the Fountainhead, I think, which is, I think the first one that I, that I read. I think, uh, it's, it's a more believable story than Atla Shrugged. I think it's, um, it's still bizarre. I mean, these, these, the main characters are quite bizarre people, uh, and it's, you know, remarkable that anybody should be as, uh, uh, as dogmatic about sticking to their principles as, as RO is. So it's, it's, it is, it's difficult from, from that point of view, but, um, it says what it's got to say very clearly, and it's, it's uplifting and, and it's, it's not too much full of caricature. Like I, I think, uh, ATLA Shrugged is. So I think that would be my favorite. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:34:00 So Coates on Zoom is asking you, if you could only read one Economist as a layman, who would it be?
Speaker 1 00:34:13 Ah, no, that's a difficult one. Um,
Speaker 0 00:34:17 And he's also asking, are you, if you're familiar with George Reisman and his Magnum Opus Capitalism, a Treatus on Economics, how it compares to,
Speaker 1 00:34:27 Uh, yeah. Well, I, I know, uh, George Reisman, so, yes, uh, it's a very, it's a very good book. Yes. It's, and he's a good person. I think, um, one economist, I would say Milton Friedman, uh, because Milton Friedman was, um, the great communicator. Uh, I, I, I keep on saying that Fa Hayek was, I think the, the wisest person that I've ever known personally, but I think Friedman was, was the sharpest. He, he was very quick. Um, he was, uh, very, very good in debate. Um, always relish debate, uh, debated people who utterly opposed him with a big smile on his face. And that comes through in his writing. So, um, his economic work is, is mostly about monetary policy, which, you know, is a bit dense for, for most of us. But then in things like capitalism and freedom and free to choose in particular, um, he starts applying, uh, uh, liberal free, market liberal in the European sense, um, free market, uh, proli thinking to all sorts of economic issues. And I think that that's, that's very instructive, and it's something that, uh, a layperson can, can get to grips with. So, yeah. Lot of Friedman.
Speaker 0 00:35:42 All right. Um, Zach Carter on Twitter is asking, uh, your book, the Condensed Wealth of Nations, is unavailable on Amazon. How can we, um, invest even,
Speaker 1 00:35:55 Even better? It's free online. If you go to Adam Smith, adam smith.org, our website, it's on there, and it's, it's, it's free online.
Speaker 0 00:36:05 All right. We'll put the link in all of the, um, chat streams. Sure. Uh, again, so it coats on Zoom saying, I believe Thomas Sol wrote a basic economics text and a condensation of Marxism. Any thoughts on his writing in general, uh, or on these two subjects?
Speaker 1 00:36:27 Well, I can't comment on that particular, uh, book because I don't, I don't know enough about it. But Tom Sol is, was, uh, I, I think very brave man, um, uh, who, who raised some, you know, very interesting issues about welfare in the United States and, and things like that. And, and, and asked some very, uh, pertinent questions about it. So, uh, I, I, I'm, you know, I'm, I'm a great, uh, great fan, nice guy too. And, uh, I, uh, so, so I'm a great, uh, fan of his. And I, I think, again, his, uh, his work is very readable. You, you can, you can read it, uh, um, even without, uh, a great background in, in economics, although he was a very, um, accomplished, uh, economist. So, um, yeah, I'd recommend him to anybody.
Speaker 0 00:37:14 All right. On YouTube, Scott is, uh, talking about the Outlander, I guess it's a series, I'm not sure if you're familiar with it. Um, it's about to return for a new season, which, uh, shared a lot of 18th century Scottish culture and asking, do you think that, um, period of integration into the UK helped to inspire the Scottish Enlightenment?
Speaker 1 00:37:44 Oh, yes. Undoubtedly it did. Uh, that, um, once after the Active Union in 1707, uh, then it was much easier for people in Scotland to trade with England for a start. Very important. And it was also much easier for people in Scotland to travel to England. So, so they did that, and they picked up lots of, uh, new ideas and, um, uh, and they, they came back and they, they thought about these new ideas and, and worked on them. And it was a very important part of the Scottish Enlightenment. It's a bit like, you know, Daniel, uh, Burstein, uh, wrote a book about the cultural frontier, and, and he was saying that, uh, you, you need to come up against other cultures in order to spark ideas, uh, and, uh, get outta your existing way of doing things. And I think that is very important.
Speaker 1 00:38:37 I, I, I mean, whenever I travel, I always pick up, you know, innumerable ideas about, well, why, why don't we do things better? Why don't we do, do it this way rather than that way? And, uh, I think the same was true in the 18th century in, in Scotland. Um, and that really culminated, I think, in 1822 when, uh, we had a, a visit to Scotland by, uh, George IV showing that yes, you know, Scotland was now a proper nation. It was no, no longer a, a northern wild place that it was, it was a, an intellectual powerhouse. So, uh, and, and it produced Smith and Human and, and lots of other great, great intellectuals who influenced the, the English influence, uh, intellectuals like John Joshua Reynolds and, uh, uh, Samuel Johnson and, and, and people like that. It was a great, uh, intellectually great time to be alive.
Speaker 0 00:39:30 All right. I'm gonna turn back to some of my questions, but, uh, I wanna grab this one from Ann M on YouTube. What is a story of Adam Smith's life that most people don't know
Speaker 1 00:39:43 <laugh>? Well, there we are. Well, I think most people probably don't realize that he never married. Um, and it said he
Speaker 0 00:39:50 Was that unusual in his day.
Speaker 1 00:39:54 Uh, yeah. Well, Joshua Reynolds didn't marry either, I don't think, but most other people did. Yes, that's right. And, uh, uh, I think, I think it was perfectly normal, but, but, but he didn't, I think he was probably too much of a, a sort of academic somehow to, to, to do that. He lived most of his life with, uh, with his mother. And when she died, it was a female cousin who, who looked after him. And I think probably somebody had to <laugh>. Cause I dunno that he, he was great at navigating his way through life. He's putting
Speaker 0 00:40:23 His toast in his teapot, he,
Speaker 1 00:40:25 All that kind of thing. Yes, that's right. And he fell into a turning pit once, cuz he wasn't looking where he was going and so on. But, um, uh, so I think somebody had to, to, to look after him. Um, so I think people don't, don't really under understand that, uh, part of his character. But at the same time, he was, um, he was hugely respected by, by everybody that he, that he met. Um, when he published his, his Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759, um, he was basically headhunted by the stepfather of a young aristocrat, and he was given a very handsome salary. Something like, I don't know, $200,000 these days to tutor this, uh, this kid, oh, plus a lifetime pension, uh, you know, another a hundred thousand dollars for life. And, um, so it was a very generous deal, and, and he could hardly refuse.
Speaker 1 00:41:19 So he, he said to the students that he was teaching at s Andrews at, at Glasgow, rather, uh, I'm very sorry, I've gotta leave the course halfway through. And, um, but I've, I've worked out how much money I owe you all. Uh, cuz then the students paid the teachers directly, and I put these little parcels and, uh, you know, each, there's a name on it, and each person can collect their parcel. And so he is handing out these parcels of money, uh, to his students, but, but they snuck around the back of him and put it, put it back in their pockets. They're saying, no, we've had absolutely fantastic value <laugh>, even though we it half, half the year, it was still worth the money. <laugh>.
Speaker 0 00:41:58 Speaking of the, uh, so he went to tutor this young son of
Speaker 1 00:42:06 12.
Speaker 0 00:42:07 How did, how did that young man turned out?
Speaker 1 00:42:12 Oh, uh, uh, great. He was, uh, he was, uh, he fulfilled his, uh, du call duties, just as you would expect. And I, I think, uh, and, and he, he maintained a lifetime friendship with, with Adam Smith, which actually still runs in the family. I've, uh, I've met and stayed with the, the current clu, um, who is very proud of his ancestor and, uh, very proud of the, uh, the connection that, um, uh, he has with Adam Smith through that. And, and he even has a, a copy of The Wealth of Nations. And on the Fly Leaf in a very scrawny hand, it says, uh, to the Duke of a clue from the author. So that was, that was Adam Smith giving his patron the, the, uh, uh, first copy of the book. Yeah. That's
Speaker 0 00:43:00 Pretty cool. Mm-hmm. Um, alright. Turning to the United States, any examples of how Smith influenced America's founders?
Speaker 1 00:43:10 Well, they all read it. Um, you know, I've seen a, a copy of the first edition of The Wealth of Nations, and there's the signature Alexander Hamilton, uh, on the Fly Leaf. That was his personal copy. Um, so I, I think they all read it. Um, and I think that it, it helped them to build a liberal constitution, again, liberal in the European sense, I'm sorry. Um, so, uh, a constitution based, based on, on freedom and liberty. Um, he wasn't so successful at getting them to, uh, reduce taxes on trade, which was, uh, the big theme of the, the Wealth of Nations, really, because the fledgling United States needed the money. And so they, they put a lot of tariffs on trade in order to raise money to, to keep the state, uh, going, um, after, after the Revolutionary War. So, um, they, it was a while before they followed the tax advice, but in terms of the framing your Constitution, I think, yes, he was very influential in that, uh, as he was in many, many other countries.
Speaker 0 00:44:17 Amazing.
Speaker 1 00:44:18 He was a best seller, you know.
Speaker 0 00:44:20 All right. Well, despite his admiration for the American colonies, he was also an outspoken critic of the slave trade and the mistreatment of Native Americans. Is that right?
Speaker 1 00:44:35 Oh, yes, Def absolutely, definitely. Um, firstly, he thought as an economist, he thought that it was bad economics. That if you force people, if you have to force people to work, you can't really expect 'em to do a very good job. Um, you, you're gonna get a be better job out of free people who enjoy what they're doing. Um, so he thought it was bad economics, and a lot of people have caricatured him as, uh, being, oh, well, he was only against the slave trade cuz it was bad economics. But that's not true. He was, he was deeply against it morally as well. And he writes, uh, you know, very heartfelt terms about how the slave trade, you know, the, the, the slaves themselves have far more nobility in them than any of the, the Darren Outs who are, who are the traders in, in slave.
Speaker 1 00:45:21 And he, he was very scathing of the, the people who dealt in the, in the slave trade. Um, and again, I, I think that well among other intellectual influences is one of the reasons why the, uh, Britain was one of the first countries along with Sweden to, uh, stamp out the, the slave trade. And indeed, we, um, uh, you know, many royal navy, uh, lives were sacrificed, uh, trying to, uh, prevent that trade from, from going, going ahead. Um, so I think, uh, you know, he, it was a very, very influential book, the Wealth of Nations where disappears and, um, everybody read it, all of the aristocracy read it, all of the top politicians read it. And yes, it had an effect.
Speaker 0 00:46:07 What are some of the more common fallacies, uh, today about Adam Smith, for example, the idea that he favored progressive taxation?
Speaker 1 00:46:17 Uh, no, he favored, uh, uh, there are several of these, but, uh, he, he favored, um, uh, on consumption, uh, really rather than income because he, he thought that, um, yes, richer people should pay more, uh, but you could do that through consumption because they consume more, and therefore you could have a flat tax on consumption and you'd end up with the, um, uh, Arista, Aris County, the richer people, um, paying, uh, paying more tax. So I think that that is, that's a, a fallacy. And I think that, um, the idea that he was, um, uh, sort of so lae, well, LAE Fair, he was devil take the Hein most, if you like, that, that you know, that he was a ruthless crow capitalist. And, and therefore, you know, if if you couldn't match up, then, then that was the problem. So, uh, that was your problem.
Speaker 1 00:47:08 So I think that instead he was deeply concerned for the, the lot of the ordinary working people. And his view was that, um, a free economy liberates, uh, ordinary working people that liberates the poorest what the problem was in his time. And the problem is in our time is that you've got an economy which is dominated by vested interests, and they try to keep everybody else outta their business, uh, outta their market. And therefore, what happens is that ordinary people can't get a look in, so they can't use their talents to improve their own lives and that of their family. So, um, yes, I, and I, I'm sort of motivated and one of the reasons I believe in free markets, <laugh> again, it's the same that, you know, I'm interested in the, in the plight of the working poor, and I think they're getting a very bad deal from all of the regulations and tax issues and taxation that's imposed on them.
Speaker 0 00:48:07 Now, some Marxists say that, uh, Carl Marx got his labor theory of value partially from Adam Smith. Any truth in that?
Speaker 1 00:48:17 Well, it's possible. I think this is probably a misreading of Adam Smith. Adam Smith. It's in a passage where he's talking about the development of, uh, the economy. And he is, he really starts by looking at a, an age in which he, he thinks, well, there there's no capital at all. And therefore, if it takes you twice as much to, uh, time to hunt a deer as to hunt a beaver, then, uh, a deer must be, you know, worth twice as much. But if you look at, and, and people have said, oh, well, that's a labor theory of value. And Mark's picked that up. Rothbard says this, I, I knew Murray Roth Bardon, he was a great controversialist, but I, and that's a step too far. Uh, Mark's got his ideas from all sorts of different places. Um, and, uh, if you look at the wrestle, the rest of the Wealth of Nations, it's all about supply demand, <laugh>, and it's all, it's all about, you know, value up here. Uh, and, and so, you know, the idea that there's a, that Smith really promoted a labor theory of value. It's a misfortune, and in a big book, there's lots of things that are, uh, you know, it's inconsistent and maybe it would be better if he put it another way, but I don't think you can actually pin that one on him.
Speaker 0 00:49:34 All right. Um, any speculation about why Smith wanted his personal papers destroyed after his death?
Speaker 1 00:49:43 It wasn't that uncommon at the time, and I think you must remember that, that Smith died a very famous man. Um, he was known around the world, and I think he didn't want his reputation to be trashed on the basis of maybe, uh, something that he'd half finished or, you know, a letter to a friend where he said something in discreet, uh, that sort of thing. And, and therefore he decided that with very few exceptions, um, all of his papers should be burned. It's, um, a misfortune for us, because I'm sure that there would be interesting insights. And in particular, uh, I, I always say Adam Smith wasn't an economist. He was a social psychologist. He wrote about, uh, he wrote about moral theory, he wrote about economics, and he also wrote a little bit and lectured on, uh, arts and culture, uh, and the use of language. And I think that, you know, he had it in mind to produce a book on politics, um, and another one on justice. And I think it would be fascinating to see if there were, in his picture, in, in his papers, uh, some notes or thoughts on those subjects. I think they would be absolutely fascinating. But sadly, they, they've gone up in smoke.
Speaker 0 00:51:00 All right. We've got just nine more minutes. Um, but of course this interview wouldn't be complete without a couple of questions about E Rand for the past nine years or so. Uh, the Adam Smith Institute has organized an annual e rand lecture in London, which I had the privilege of attending back in 2016. When you and I first met one of the Atla Society's supporters, Dr. Michael Kaufman, uh, has delivered the lecture, as did a recent guest on this podcast. Lars Tavi, what is your, uh, yeah, vision for the lecture series? How do you pick your speakers?
Speaker 1 00:51:43 Well, what we look for is, um, people who have been influenced by I rand, but who have brought that influence into business. So instead of getting political thinkers and uh, uh, philosophers and so on, uh, what we've been getting largely is business people who've been influenced by Rand and basically whose, um, whose values in business, if you like, have been shaped by their, their reading of Irvine Rand. So they, they understand about rational self-interest. They, they un understand about building a reputation and they understand about being confident in yourself. Um, and I think that that's, the formula seems to work very well. So we, we always, uh, pack out one of these, uh, big, uh, city of London, very fancy livery halls. They're called, um, set up by the guilds, which we disapprove of, but set up by the guilds in the 18th century. And, um, uh, so we always, uh, pack the house and, uh, I think it's a series wish it's going to continue. So we need more suggestions, speakers, but apart from that
Speaker 0 00:52:51 <laugh>, well, perhaps we can help. Yes. Um, yeah. So tell us about your primer Ein Rand, an introduction. Did you learn anything new in preparing it, or were you pretty well versed in the subject already?
Speaker 1 00:53:04 Well, I think with all the primers I do, I do them partly as a, uh, a measure of self-education. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, because so many people in so many subjects, I dunno, whether it's capitalism or democracy or, or anything else, inequality, uh, all the other things I've written on, I, I know a little bit about. Uh, but I think, well, I really would like to know more about that. And so it's partly done for my benefit <laugh> rather than the readers. Um, so I think I learned a lot about, uh, Adam Smith, cuz I, I didn't really know much about him at the time. We, we took him as the name of the institute because it kind of sums, sums up what we believe in. But at the same time, I didn't really know much about man and, and, and his thought other than the wealth of Nations. So I learned a a a lot about that. Uh, but that's, that's true of every other subject I've written on. It's, you, you learn, you learn a lot when you have to write about it.
Speaker 0 00:53:56 Well, I highly recommend them. And, um, I like that. A a couple of them are on audio. I, I just listened a couple of times to your premier on, uh, Hyatt. So, uh, that was really enlightening. Um, quick question about modern day uk. Really confused by what happened with Liz Truss's short time as Prime Minister, she seemed to advocate, um, some free market ideas, but the markets reacted very negatively to her proposal. So what was that all about?
Speaker 1 00:54:33 Well, I know Liz very well, and, um, uh, you know, she's always been a great, uh, hero of mine. Uh, but, um, I, I think she wanted to reduce taxation, and I think that's absolutely, uh, vital, and I think we should have done that. Uh, at the same time, she inherited from Boris Johnson, um, a package of, uh, uh, a bailout package for homeowners to help with their energy bills. And that was extremely expensive. So I think they thought that, um, her administration thought that, well, you know, that's already been decided. We can't do anything about that. And by, by the way, everybody else is doing it. Germans are doing it. Everybody else around the the planet is, is helping out with e uh, energy bills, helping householders. So it's not very controversial. So we'll carry on. Um, so we'll cut taxes and we'll just borrow whatever it takes to, um, to, to carry on.
Speaker 1 00:55:32 And I think, uh, the markets were a little bit jittery about that, but things were made even worse by the establishment. The Bank of England, uh, gave her almost no support at all. Uh, the treasury were treasury bureaucrats were openly hostile. Um, so, uh, it, it just, it, it all, it all came to grief, unfortunately. And it's a, it's a great misfortune because if, if you, you are facing a recession, you, you really do have to cut taxes. You, we've gotta grow and create new businesses. And the one thing which kills people, kills, uh, new businesses and stops people starting new businesses, is the idea that well, even if they succeed in a new, starting a new business, they're gonna get whacked by, in our case, 25% company tax plus income tax, plus national insurance, plus all the rest. So that really stops you from developing new business and, and, and then you can't recover. Uh, so you get in that downward spiral that we were in in the 1970s, which induced me and other people to go abroad.
Speaker 0 00:56:44 Well, speaking of going abroad, uh, as we were, um, mentioning before you've been to the US South Korea, Portugal, what's next for you? Um, where are you going? How can we keep track of your work,
Speaker 1 00:56:59 <laugh>? Well, I was rather, rather hoping to put my feet up. I'm, I might be going to, to France to do the summer university there. Uh, I'm not sure. I was sort of thinking about doing a meeting in, uh, in South Africa. Uh, I'm not sure I'm gonna do that. Um, I'm certainly going to be Inre and Woods, New Hampshire in, uh, the end of October. Um, but other than those, I haven't the faintest idea. If somebody wants to invite me, I'll go.
Speaker 0 00:57:27 Well, you have a standing invitation here in Malibu. So thank you Eman, uh, this has been great. I wanna thank all of you for joining us today. If you enjoyed this video or any of our other materials, yeah, consider making a tax deductible [email protected]
. And be sure to tune in next week when Hotel Magnet and former ambassador to the eu, Gordon Sandlin will be our guest on the Atlas Society. Asks to talk about his book, the Envoy Mastering The Art of Diplomacy with Trump and the World. So we'll see you next week. Thank you.