The core historical portion of this paper is a detailed consideration of the views of Adam Smith on the condition of the poor and their place within society (so extended quotation). I arrive at readings sharply at odds with much modern scholarship. Such scholarship variously reports a Smith concerned, innovatively, with the condition of the poor, and/or concerned to argue for equity as an intervention criterion. These concerns are held to animate Smith’s concrete economic and policy proposals. I do not see this, and argue that the text-on-the-page gives no support for a ‘concerned Smith’ interpretation. Such an eccentric conclusion might be attributable to research method and approach, whence this opening preamble to articulate my presuppositions.