Adam Smith

Scottish economist who advocated private enterprise and free trade (1723-1790)

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A person who can acquire no property, can have no other interest but to eat as much, and to labour as little as possible. Whatever work he does beyond what is sufficient to purchase his own maintenance can be squeezed out of him by violence only, and not by any interest of his own.
Happiness never lays its finger on its pulse.
Humanity is the virtue of a woman, generosity that of a man.
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own neccessities but of their advantages.
Man, an animal that makes bargains.
No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.
On the road from the City of Skepticism, I had to pass through the Valley of Ambiguity. (Powers of Mind, 1975)
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.
The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions.
The difference of natural talents in different men is, in reality, much less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity, is not upon many occasions so much the cause as the effect of the division of labour. The difference between the most dissimilar characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for example, seems to arise not so much from nature as from habit, custom, and education. When they came into the world, and for the first six or eight years of their existence, they were perhaps very much alike, and neither their parents nor playfellows could perceive any remarkable difference...
The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.
The mind is so rarely disturbed, but that the company of friend will restore it to some degree of tranquility and sedateness.
The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.
The robot is going to lose. Not by much. But when the final score is tallied, flesh and blood is going to beat the damn monster.
To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers, may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers, but extremely fit for a nation that is governed by shopkeepers.
Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.
What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?
With the great part of rich people, the chief employment of riches consists in the parade of riches.

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