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The Man Who Opposed Poverty

When Warren Buffett pledged more than $30 billion to the Gates Foundation, "to reduce inequities" around the world, Bill and Melinda Gates responded by giving him a book from their library – Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

The only man to appear in both our Liberty and Ingenious Timelines, Adam Smith creates a blueprint not for capitalism (the words capitalism and capitalists had not yet been coined) but for free men and women earning a creative living in free markets ruled by just laws.

Adam Smith opposes the trade monopolies that protect the few at the expense of the many. He denounces the destruction of property rights and free trade in Ireland, which impoverishes the Irish. He advocates taxes on luxury consumption rather than on labor because luxury taxes hurt an economy least and most of the people least.

Adam Smith understands that the heavy hand of the state – with its unnecessary regulations, burdensome taxes, and attempts to control life in every myriad detail – will depress and eventually crush innovation and prosperity and make people poor.

Some book. It was first published in 1776.