Quoting Adam Smith Out of Context
I just came across a blog which contained the following:
The rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than that proportion.
Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations
The actual quote is:
It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.
Not only has the blogger removed without notice the first seven words of the sentence, sharply changing its meaning, he has capitalized the word that starts his truncated sentence, thus pretending that what he is giving is the whole sentence.
Of course, the dishonesty is only in the blogger who first posted the supposed quote—various others seem to have copied it from him. I am not providing links to any of them, since I don't think they deserve the attention; readers who are curious should be able to find them easily enough.
I put a comment on one blog that had the quote, sourced to another. I'll see if the blogger is honest enough to let it show up.
I've commented in the past on the practice of ascribing to Smith views he did not hold, such as support for public schooling and progressive taxation, supported by selective quotation. Most of those are probably honest errors by people who didn't actually read the text with any care, but this looks like deliberate dishonesty.
For those who are curious, what Smith is saying in the quote is that a particular tax, desirable on other grounds, should not be rejected just because it falls more heavily on the rich. His first maxim of taxation, however, at the beginning of the relevant section of the book, is that tax burden should be proportional to income.