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Author Discusses Adam Smith and Globalization

In the third installment in a series of conversations about the impact of globalization, author P.J. O'Rourke discusses the role of the teachings of Adam Smith in today's economy.

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  • PAUL SOLMAN, NewsHour Economics Correspondent:

    Adam Smith, the first name in economics. Here's how he famously put its key premise in his book, "The Wealth of Nations," published the same year as the declaration of independence, and this piece by Mozart.

    "Give me that which I want and you shall have this which you want. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner but from their regard to their own interest."

    "Self-interest leads to honing your skills, the better to trade with," says P.J. O'Rourke, author of a new book about Smith's oft-quoted, but let's face it, rarely read tome, O'Rourke's called, fittingly enough, "On the Wealth of Nations."

    At his home in New Hampshire recently, we talked to O'Rourke. So ardent a Smith fan, he wore a tie with the author's profile.

    P.J. O'Rourke, welcome.

  • P.J. O’ROURKE, Author:

    Thank you.


    The classic case for free trade made by Adam Smith, as articulated by you, what is it?

  • P.J. O’ROURKE:

    It's merely size of market. Adam Smith pointed out that there were three things that make us more prosperous, in a general sort of way: freedom to pursue our own self-interest; specialization, which he called division of labor; and freedom of trade.


    And so globalization is nothing more than the free market across national boundaries?

  • P.J. O’ROURKE:

    Exactly. Globalization is simply opening the free marketplace to encompass the entire world.