No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.

— Adam Smith

The most stunning Adam Smith quotes that are easy to memorize and remember

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 interest.

201

The first thing you have to know is yourself.

A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer.

186

By pursuing his own interest (the individual) frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

144

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.

117

Wherever there is great property there is great inequality.

For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. 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.

104

On the road from the City of Skepticism, I had to pass through the Valley of Ambiguity.

86

A nation is not made wealthy by the childish accumulation of shiny metals, but it enriched by the economic prosperity of it's people.

85

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this - no dog exchanges bones with another.

83

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.

83

The real and effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment which restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence.

82

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.

82

Happiness never lays its finger on its pulse.

77

About Adam Smith

Quotes 191 sayings
Nationality Scottish
Profession Economist
Birthday October 16

He is led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention

61

Every man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the necessaries, conveniences, and amusements of human life.

55

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production.

52

I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

51

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.

47

Individual Ambition Serves the Common Good.

41

The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.

37

Labour was the first price, the original purchase - money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.

34

No complaint... is more common than that of a scarcity of money.

32

It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense. They are themselves, always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society.

32

Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.

31

Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.

29

The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.

27

All money is a matter of belief.

25

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production;

and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.

23

Defense is superior to opulence.

22

As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce.

19

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.

15

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.

15

With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches.

14

With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches, which in their eye is never so complete as when they appear to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can possess but themselves.

13

Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality.

13

The world neither ever saw, nor ever will see, a perfectly fair lottery.

13

Every man lives by exchanging.

12

It is not by augmenting the capital of the country, but by rendering a greater part of that capital active and productive than would otherwise be so, that the most judicious operations of banking can increase the industry of the country.

12

Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible, over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the State.

12

Great nations are never impoverished by private, though they sometimes are by public prodigality and misconduct.

11

The learned ignore the evidence of their senses to preserve the coherence of the ideas of their imagination.

11

We are but one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it.

11

Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens.

9

The machines that are first invented to perform any particular movement are always the most complex, and succeeding artists generally discover that, with fewer wheels, with fewer principles of motion, than had originally been employed, the same effects may be more easily produced. The first systems, in the same manner, are always the most complex.

9

It appears, accordingly, from the experience of all ages and nations, I believe, that the work done by freemen comes cheaper in the end than that performed by slaves.

9

All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

8

The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition is so powerful that it is alone, and without any assistance, capable not only of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting 100 impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations.

8

Goods can serve many other purposes besides purchasing money, but money can serve no other purpose besides purchasing goods.

8

Man, an animal that makes bargains.

8

Sugar, rum and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation.

7
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