Saturday, April 05, 2008

Selling Adam Smith's House

This week Edinburgh's city council selling Adam Smith's house,
This week Edinburgh's city council put on the market the house where Adam Smith spent his last 12 years, from 1778 until 1790. Advertisements in the property sections of local newspapers seek offers in excess of £700,000 ($1.4m) for a 17th-century house of historical interest, but fail to point out its connection with the father of modern economics.

This indifference to one of Scotland's greatest sons in the city where he spent much of his adult life is curious, but consistent. His house, recently a municipal centre for troubled boys, has a small, tarnished bronze plaque recording it as the town house of the Earls of Panmure and the home of Adam Smith. [link]

I'm with Alex Tabarrok when he says that " it would be a disgrace if the house went to anyone but the highest bidder". So this campaign by some concerned individuals (which includes some Edinburgh's economists) to save Smith's house is rather surprising.

In some ways, it throws light into a key Smithian insight of self-interest, which is often misunderstood to mean "selfishness" or "greed". Self-interest can, at times, be charitable. That's something Randians, who likes to talk about the virtue of selfishness and left-wing critics who likes to talk about, well, nonsense never seems to understand. The Market works on self interest, not necessarily greed or selfishness which are just human traits visible in any system.

and Self-interest, is what is driving these fans of Adam Smith to "Save" their hero's home from a potential demolition. I wish them luck, but I hope they intend on doing this by becoming the highest bidder and not by throwing political weight, which would be a disgrace to Adam Smith.

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