Why does Adam Smith believe government should not meddle in the economy?

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the Navigation Acts, blessed by Smith under the assertion that ‘defence, however, is of much more importance than opulence’ (WN464);Sterling marks on plate and stamps on linen and woollen cloth (WN138–9);enforcement of contracts by a system of justice (WN720);wages to be paid in money, not goods;regulations of paper money in banking (WN437);obligations to build party walls to prevent the spread of fire (WN324);rights of farmers to send farm produce to the best market (except ‘only in the most urgent necessity’) (WN539);‘Premiums and other encouragements to advance the linen and woollen industries’ (TMS185);‘Police’, or preservation of the ‘cleanliness of roads, streets, and to prevent the bad effects of corruption and putrifying substances’;ensuring the ‘cheapness or plenty [of provisions]’ (LJ6; 331);patrols by town guards and fire fighters to watch for hazardous accidents (LJ331–2);erecting and maintaining certain public works and public institutions intended to facilitate commerce (roads, bridges, canals and harbours) (WN723);coinage and the mint (WN478; 1724);post office (WN724);regulation of institutions, such as company structures (joint- stock companies, co-partneries, regulated companies and so on) (WN731–58);temporary monopolies, including copyright and patents, of fixed duration (WN754);education of youth (‘village schools’, curriculum design and so on) (WN758–89);education of people of all ages (tythes or land tax) (WN788);encouragement of ‘the frequency and gaiety of publick diversions’(WN796);the prevention of ‘leprosy or any other loathsome and offensive disease’ from spreading among the population (WN787–88);encouragement of martial exercises (WN786);registration of mortgages for land, houses and boats over two tons (WN861, 863);government restrictions on interest for borrowing (usury laws) to overcome investor ‘stupidity’ (WN356–7);laws against banks issuing low-denomination promissory notes (WN324);natural liberty may be breached if individuals ‘endanger the security of the whole society’ (WN324);limiting ‘free exportation of corn’ only ‘in cases of the most urgent necessity’ (‘dearth’ turning into ‘famine’) (WN539); andmoderate export taxes on wool exports for government revenue (WN879).


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