This is not to say free-market conservatives should accede to the redistributionists who misunderstand human nature, competition, and incentives. Conservatives must preach capitalism and the importance of free markets. But in teaching the yin, we should not ignore the yang.

Most educated Americans know Adam Smith wrote Wealth of Nations, expounding on the virtues of self-interest in free markets. But how many Americans know Smith’s first (and only other) book was called The Theory of Moral Sentiments — and that it was about the virtues of personal benevolence? Indeed, Smith developed a theory of an “impartial spectator” (a sort of conscience) as a standard for moral judgment.

Smith believed that in both instances, an “invisible hand” unintentionally changes things to benefit others. The “greed is good” saying is a simplistic perversion of Smith’s philosophy.

But how often do conservatives portray our ideals this way?