Our “first economist” was a moral philosopher. Scotsman Adam Smith (1723-1790) lived and wrote about two questions: What should a (moral) individual do? What should (moral) society do?
Now, Smith’s economist followers have shrunk him into two modern categories: micro and macro. Sadly, each is pretty much devoid of his ethical perspective. Micro describes individual decision-making. Macro on the other hand describes public policy.
Smith’s loss is about one aspect of profit, mainly. For him, profit has a purpose to not only enrich the business owner, but also to reward community-spiritedness for placing society’s good at least co-equal with one’s own.
Adam Smith wasn’t against self-interest. Instead, he enthusiastically embraced it, but rightly understood. “Rightly understood” is about sustaining the common good. We’ll be digging into this; watch this space. Especially, we’ll draw a bright line around “take the money and run” business strategies. We call these and the people who exploit them, pseudo-capitalists.