Disaster Relief: What Would Adam Smith Do?


An earthquake kills more than 150,000 people in Asia. How should we as individuals respond? Is government obliged to help those in need simply because they are members of society? Should the private market or the government take charge of relief? These questions were posed by Adam Smith, the Scottish moral philosopher and promoter of markets, in 1759. Like his questions, his answers also resound today.

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Copyright © 2005, The Christian Science Publishing Society. This article first appeared in The Christian Science Monitor (2005).

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