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"My sole aim is profit. By making a profit I serve the public by producing the goods they need and I employ many workers in useful occupations. The only laws that guide me are the laws of the marketplace"—On whose writings are the economic policies of the speaker largely based: Karl Marx, Adam Smith, Robert Owen, or John Stuart Mill?

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I would opt for answer B: Adam Smith. The eighteenth-century Scottish economist and philosopher believed in what's called the law of unintended consequences. This means, among other things, that a benevolent outcome can often arise out of selfish behavior. In Smith's world-view, economic actors such as firms are indeed selfish, concerned with the maximization of profit and nothing else. Yet, ironically, such selfish behavior tends towards a generally beneficial outcome for society as a whole. Not only luxury goods but staple items such as bread come into being due to the profit motive. As Smith points out, we don't receive our daily bread because of the baker's benevolence, but because he wants to make a profit.

And just as the self-regarding, profit-seeking behavior of economic actors can lead to a generally beneficial outcome, so good intentions can often end up causing great poverty, misery, and suffering. Smith believes that government involvement in the economy is a paradigm example of this. Governments will often intervene in the market to try and ensure a more beneficial outcome for a specific group. Yet Smith thinks this is a big mistake. No one, least of all government ministers, can possibly predict the consequences of their actions further down the road. If we seek certain goods in society, then we're better off attending to our own self-interest, as this has always proven to be the tried and tested method for maximizing wealth and opportunity in society.

Of course, governments do have a role in running the economy. But it's a very restricted one on Smith's reading, limited to setting the general system of rules and regulations in which firms and individuals operate. Those rules and regulations will need to be fine-tuned by government from time to time, but as far as the actual production and allocation of goods is concerned, that should be left to the operation of the free market.

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Given these options, the only possible correct answer is B.  This is a statement that could not be based on the ideas of any of these thinkers other than Adam Smith.

Adam Smith is best known for his idea of the "invisible hand" of the market.  He says that the economic decisions that are made in a society must be made by the demands of the market, not by any kind of governmental policies.  This is very much in line with the last line of the statement you have given us.

All of the other people that you mention were more or less opposed to the capitalist system.  All of them were, to one degree or another, more receptive to socialist ideas.

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