A blog post titled “On the power of Adam Smith” coming on the same day as his “Who Is Charlie Crist?” profile almost certainly is a react piece to that magnus opus, but it’s not. No, this is just a blurb about Smith’s power to highlight material which has been in the public sphere for at least two years — and how silly some in Florida politics look for believing there is something new under the sun.
Online and in the Sunday print edition of the Tampa Bay Times, Smith writes about how Tallahassee no longer fits as Florida’s capital. “It made sense to put Florida’s capital in Tallahassee back when it was the center the state’s plantation economy. … But for nearly 100 years it’s been hard to argue that Tallahassee — at least a four-hour drive from Tampa and about eight from Miami — remains a logical spot for Florida’s seat of government.”
Smith then reminds his readers that efforts to move the seat of government to Orlando fizzled after lawmakers built the expensive, phallic-looking Capitol building.
So far, there’s nothing wrong with this history lesson. Smith, like myself and so many others, was probably at his wits’ end at having to drive to and from Tallahassee and needed to vent. Then Smith writes about why the capital should be moved: “A compelling new argument comes from a couple of academics, Filipe Campante of Harvard University and Quoc-Anh Do of the Institute of Political Studies in Paris: Corruption breeds more easily in isolated state capitals.”
Note that word “new.”
Campate and Do do indeed have their study published in the American Economic Review and it does correlate the isolation of capital cities with an increase in greater levels of corruption across U.S. states.
But this is not a new study. Campate and Do have been working this story for years. The only thing new here is Smith’s highlighting of their work.
In fact, it was over two years ago that Campate and Do had their work highlighted in the Los Angeles Times. I know, because I blogged about it then.
Yet Smith’s blog post about this study is at this hour the “Most Read” item on SayfieReview.com, a ranking owed, no doubt, to the collective narcissism of Tallahassee. And this speaks to the power of Adam Smith. No one else in Florida political media could highlight a rerun from more than two years ago and make it the talk of the town.