- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wealth, updated

“Despite their obvious differences, ‘Das Kapital’ and ‘The Wealth of Nations’ share at least one similarity: Nobody reads them. In the case of Karl Marx, this is no tragedy. …

“Not so with Adam Smith, whose tome revealed profundities from which anyone would profit — that is, unless you count the cost of actually digesting ‘The Wealth of Nations.’ Any edition of this classic, published in 1776, is big and dense enough to double as a doorstop. Between ‘American Idol’ and the latest Barack Obama coverage, who’s got the time? Taking a cue from that thoroughly modern doctrine, ‘To each according to his attention span,’ in steps P.J. O’Rourke (with his new book, ‘On the Wealth of Nations’) to explicate the truths of the great Scottish philosopher. …

“O’Rourke also does a decent job of intellectual backfill. A common but woefully misinformed criticism of Smith is that he was simply counseling selfishness. But ‘The Wealth of Nations’ is not a self-help book; it’s a book about how to improve the station of humanity. And it happens to be a sequel. Smith’s first book, ‘A Theory of Moral Sentiments,’ deals with improvement from a moral perspective, while ‘Wealth’ comes at the same subject from the material angle.”

— Joel Miller, writing on “Adam Smith for Dummies,” in the May issue of the American Spectator

Puppy love?

“In this country, teens learn virtually everything they know from other teens. … When young people exit the education system and are dumped into the real world, which is not the world of Britney Spears, they have no idea what’s going on and have to spend considerable time figuring it out.

“There are at least 20 million young people between 13 and 17, and if they are as competent as I think they are, we are just throwing them away. …

“Everyone who has looked at the issue has found that teens can experience the love that adults experience. The only difference is that they change partners more, because they are warehoused together, told it’s puppy love and not real, and are unable to marry without permission. The assumption is they are not capable. But many distinguished couples today — Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, George and Barbara Bush — married young and have very successful long-term relationships. …

“Overall the divorce rate of people marrying in their teens is a little higher. Does that mean we should prohibit them from marrying? That’s absurd. We should aim to reverse that, telling young people the truth: that they are capable of creating long-term stable relationships. They might fail — but adults do every day, too.”

— Robert Epstein, author of “The Case Against Adolescence,” interviewed by Hara Estroff Marano in the March/April issue of Psychology Today

Fact-free film

“Michael Moore’s new film ‘Sicko,’ a critique of the U.S. health care system and paean to socialized medicine around the world, premiered amid great fanfare at Cannes last month. Time magazine reviewer Richard Corliss rejoiced, ‘The upside of this populist documentary is that there are no policy wonks crunching numbers.’

“Wouldn’t want anyone messing up Moore’s fantasy with … facts. …

“America needs to have a serious debate about how to fix our health care system. But Moore’s demagoguery and refusal to address the numbers will do little to contribute to that debate.”

— Michael D. Tanner, writing on “Moore’s Sick Rx,” June 5 in the New York Post



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