Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adam Smith on Lobbyists

I find this part of his work rarely quoted ...

The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [businessmen], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.
The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book I, Chapter XI, Part III, Conclusion of the Chapter, pg.292


  1. People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies, much less to render them necessary.

  2. Anytime a group that will be impacted by legilation helps draft the laws , it needs very close examination. Everyone will try to do things in their favor. Simple human anture.

  3. Is this à propos of our new Maastricht Reloaded? :)

  4. Sometimes I wonder if it's an unwritten rule in politics not to point out the real political positions of the people and documents the other side leans on.