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Adam Smith
Scottish economist and philosopher
(1723-90)



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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.
-- The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book 1, Chapter 2. This quotation is an example of Smith's Invisible Hand theory.

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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. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.
-- The Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 10

With the great part of rich people, the chief employment of riches consists in the parade of riches.
-- The Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 11

Science is the great antidote to the poison and superstition.
-- The Wealth of Nations, Book 5, Chapter 1

There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.
-- The Wealth of Nations, Book 5, Chapter 2

When the quantity of any commodity which is brought to market falls short of the effectual demand, all those who are willing to pay... cannot be supplied with the quantity which they want... Some of them will be willing to give more. A competition will begin among them, and the market price will rise... When the quantity brought to market exceeds the effectual demand, it cannot be all sold to those who are willing to pay... The market price will sink...

-- The Wealth of Nations. This is a statement of Adam Smith's theory of Supply and Demand.

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.
-- The Wealth of Nations.

Criticism of Adam Smith's Theory of the "Division of Labor"
"To have never done any thing but make the eighteenth part of a pin, is a sorry account for a human being to give of his existence.
-- Jean-Baptiste Say, A Treatise On Political Economy (1803)

Smith Not Just Pro-Business
Even today - in blithe disregard of his actual philosophy - Smith is generally regarded as a conservative economist, whereas in fact, he was more avowedly hostile to the motives of businessmen then most New Deal economists.
-- Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers (1953)


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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