The Curious Case of Adam Smith
Adam Smith is probably the only economist you have ever heard of. It was his scribblings that warned us of the “Wealth of Nations” and the “Invisible Hand”. The founding fathers of the U.S. were influenced by his economic theories even though his most principled theories were designed only to bankrupt and destroy the United States.
Even though he was a Scotsmen he was still able to attain a degree from Oxford and upon graduation he moved back to the wilderness of Edinburgh and established a beaver fighting ring. Beaver fighting had become ridiculously popular in the mid 18th century and Adam wanted to cash in on this phenomenon. The way a beaver fight worked was that a man, covered in goose grease and rebar, would enter a circular ring. A beaver was then thrown from the rafters and the fight would begin. If the beaver won he would be given a pair of roller skates and his freedom. If the man won he would be given a picture of Muhammed Ali and a soft boiled egg. Adam made a small fortune during the seven years his operation was in business and with this new found wealth he bought himself a new pencil and a spiral notebook.
He sold his interests in the beaver fighting ring and spent his days filling his notebook with his thoughts about the world. His musings led him in to territories he hadnʼt known existed, and indeed they hadnʼt existed until he had committed them to paper. Smith had never heard of fiction writing and was therefore convinced that everything he had written down was true. This would cause several problems for him throughout his life, but not important enough problems to be in this article. He brought his notebook to a local publisher who was known to print unknown authorʼs works. For a large sum (half of a pencil) the publisher would produce 100 editions of your work. Smith, knowing that his writings were of some importance, paid the enormous sum and the world was given his first work “Painting the Martian Shore” which is what the movie “Look Whoʼs Talking” is based upon.
Smith began hawking his book to bookstore owners all over Edinburgh and was surprised when all 100 editions had been sold within a week. He made enough money to buy two pencils and two notebooks and immediately had 200 more copies printed. These sold just as fast as the first batch and he was once again on his way to accumulating enormous wealth. He started to notice that if he worked and got paid more for his work than he invested in to it he would have money left over. He was able to reinvest this money in to more work or other investments. This money became more money and Adam was intrigued. He started to study this paradox and decided to call himself an economist.
This was the first case in history of anybody studying money and the things you could do with it. He went on a few talk radio shows to speak about this and his popularity grew and grew. If this article were a movie, this is where the director would put in a montage set to any number of cheesy 80ʼs pop songs, but since itʼs not Iʼll just tell you that Adam Smith became fabulously wealthy and began to meet and hold court with exceptional people across the U.K.
His biggest moment in this “whirlwind of awesomeness” as he would describe it, was when he got to meet the King of England. This was the first time a seated king would ever allow a Scotsman speak to him and Adam was honored. He talked to the king about how if he took the money he had and invested it in other ventures, as opposed to keeping it in the royal duck pond, he could make even more money. The king, intrigued, wondered if the economist could help him with his financial matters. Mr. Smith was delighted and set to work investing the kings money. Within a month he had tripled the kings wealth and holdings and everyone in the country wanted to know how it was done. Most people, understandably, believed it was magic and assumed Smith to be a powerful sorcerer. The king defended him and promised the people that if they would just trust Mr. Smithsʼ work that he would have a new swimming pool built in the backyard. This, of course, swayed the people greatly and his necromancing ways were never called in to question again.
Smith slowly became bored with government work and longed to become the starving author he once was. He authored several treatises on the relationship between humans and tortoises, going so far as to claim that he himself was part tortoise. The British Academy of Sciences, which didnʼt even exist, refused Smith admittance on account of his purely fantastic accounts of his terrapin heritage. Discouraged, he set to work on his magnum opus which he titled “There is a Chair over there, but it mustnʼt be trusted” but was later rechristened “The Wealth of Nations” by a wise marketing department.
He wrote the volume over the course of a holiday weekend and presented it to his editors. They cut it down from 1,378 pages down to a manageable 512 and sent it off to the presses. Most of the pages they cut out were his ramblings about the turtle thing and some other astounding claims he used to make. What they did print changed the world, economics wise, which was very little in those days. It sold a total of four copies. Adam Smith accidentally killed himself by drowning while swimming in the Thames, looking for turtles, and no one even cared. It wasnʼt until the 1930ʼs that the book was read by anyone important. And Iʼm really stretching it when I say important here because it was actually a community college professor in Flint, Michigan who had found an old copy lying on a city bus.
The man’s name was Ellen Winslow and he would never understand the book that he had just found. History has forgotten why anyone would name their son Ellen, but it is said the he pulled it off quite well. He passed the book on to the Dean of Flint Community College and he handed it off to a janitor at the University of Michigan. Through a series of handoffs and exchanges the book eventually found its way in to the hands of future President and current insane man Ronald Reagan. He became the only person crazy enough to understand what the book was talking about. He won the Republican Presidential nomination of 1980 mainly due to the fact that the only person crazy enough to run against him was his shadow.
Nobody in the country took Reagan seriously as a Presidential candidate but he was elected anyway because the Democrats elected a 1973 Gran Torino as their
candidate. This was seen as the only thing stupider than voting for a Republican and Reagan won handily. Armed with his new book that he had received from a young campaign staffer, whom he would later kill and eat, he began the destruction of the United States which continues unabated to this day.