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Adam Smith Quotes On Education, Economics And Governance

Adam Smith Quotes

Adam Smith was an 18th-century Scottish economist, philosopher, and author who is considered one of the founding fathers of modern economics. He was born on June 5, 1723, in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, to a lawyer and customs official. Smith was educated at the University of Glasgow, where he developed a deep interest in philosophy and economics. He later attended Balliol College at Oxford University, where he studied moral philosophy and developed his ideas on free trade and the division of labor.

In 1751, Smith returned to Scotland and became a professor of logic at the University of Glasgow. He later held the chair of moral philosophy, where he taught for over a decade. During this time, he wrote his most famous work, “The Wealth of Nations,” which was published in 1776.

In “The Wealth of Nations,” Smith argued that free trade and the division of labor were the keys to economic prosperity. He believed that markets should be left to operate freely without interference from government or other outside forces, and that the pursuit of self-interest by individuals would lead to the best outcomes for society as a whole. Smith’s ideas had a profound influence on the development of economics and continue to be studied and debated today. He is often referred to as the father of modern economics, and his works are still widely read and discussed in academic circles.

Adam Smith died on July 17, 1790, in Edinburgh, Scotland, but his legacy lives on as one of the most important figures in the history of economics and philosophy.

Here, we have curated some of the most popular quotes of Adam Smith Quotes On Education, Economics And Governance.

Adam Smith Quotes On Education

1. “The education of the common people requires, perhaps, in a civilized and commercial society, the attention of the public more than that of people of some rank and fortune.”

2. “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.”

Adam Smith Quotes On Education

3. “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.”

4. “There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.”

5. “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.”

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

7. “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.”

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

9. “A nation is not made wealthy by the childish accumulation of shiny metals, but it enriched by the economic prosperity of its people.”

10. “Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this – no dog exchanges bones with another.”

11. “Never complain of that of which it is at all times in your power to rid yourself.”

12. “Nothing is more graceful than habitual cheerfulness.”

13. “What can be added to the happiness of the man who is in health, who is out of debt, and has a clear conscience?”

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

15. “To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature.”

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

17. “Happiness never lays its finger on its pulse.”

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

19. “Problems worthy of attacks, prove their worth by hitting back.”

20. “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.”

Adam Smith Quotes On Government

21. “The violence and injustice of the rulers of mankind is an ancient evil, for which, I am afraid, the nature of human affairs can scarce admit a remedy.”

22. “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.”

23. “Fear is in almost all cases a wretched instrument of government, and ought in particular never to be employed against any order of men who have the smallest pretensions to independency.”

24. “The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labor, 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 labor.”

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

26. “Corn is necessary, silver is only a superfluity.”

27. “It is the interest of every man to live as much at his ease as he can; and if his emoluments are to be precisely the same, whether he does or does not perform some very laborious duty, it is certainly his interest, at least as interest is vulgarly understood, either to neglect it altogether or, if he is subject to some authority which will not suffer him to do this, to perform it in as careless and slovenly a manner as that authority will permit.”

28. “It is not the actual greatness of national wealth, but its continual increase, which occasions a rise in the wages of labor. It is not, accordingly, in the richest countries, but in the most thriving, or in those which are growing rich the fastest, that the wages of labor are highest. England is certainly, in the present times, a much richer country than any part of North America. The wages of labor, however, are much higher in North America than in any part of England.”

29. “Have lots of experiments, but make sure they’re strategically focused.”

30. “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.”

Adam Smith Quotes On Government

31.“What is the work of one man, in a rude state of society, being generally that of several in an improved one.”

32. “Labour, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities. 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.”

33. “It is not for its own sake that men desire money, but for the sake of what they can purchase with it.”

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

35.“In the midst of all the exactions of government … It is this effort, protected by law and allowed by liberty to exert itself in the manner that is most advantageous, which has maintained the progress.”

36. “The great secret of education is to direct vanity to proper objects.”

37. “In the common degree of the moral, there is no virtue. Virtue is excellence.”

38. “No society can flourish of which the greater part is poor and miserable.”

39. “Labour alone, therefore, never varying in its own value, is alone the ultimate and real standard by which the value of all commodities can at all times and places be estimated and compared. It is their real price; money is their nominal price only.”

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

Adam Smith Quotes Capitalism

41. “Individual ambition serves the common good.”

42. “Humanity is the virtue of a woman, generosity that of a man.”

43. ” The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.”

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

Adam Smith Quotes On Capitalism

45. “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.”

46. “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

47. “All money is a matter of belief.”

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

49. “No complaint… is more common than that of a scarcity of money.”

50. “In regards to the price of commodities, the rise of wages operates as simple interest does, the rise of profit operates like compound interest.”

51. “A monopoly granted either to an individual or to a trading company has the same effect as a secret in trade or manufactures. The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly understocked, by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell their commodities much above the natural price, and raise their emoluments, whether they consist in wages or profit, greatly above their natural rate.”

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

53. “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens.”

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

55. “The property which every man has in his own labor, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable.”

56. “The subjects of every state ought to contribute toward the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state ….As Henry Home (Lord Kames) has written, a goal of taxation should be to ‘remedy inequality of riches as much as possible, by relieving the poor and burdening the rich.’”

57. “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 maxim is so perfectly self-evident that it would be absurd to attempt to prove it. But in the mercantile system, the interest of the consumer is almost constantly sacrificed to that of the producer; and it seems to consider production, and not consumption, as the ultimate end and object of all industry and commerce.”

58. “Every man lives by exchanging.”

59. “The uniform, constant, and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition . . . is frequently powerful enough to maintain the natural progress of things toward improvement, in spite of the extravagance of government, and of the greatest errors of administration.”

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

Adam Smith Quotes Wealth Of Nations

61. “Virtue is excellence, something uncommonly great and beautiful, which rises far above what is vulgar and ordinary.” — Adam Smith

62. “What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.”

63.“The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities.”

64. “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.”

65.“The profusion of government … [has] retarded the natural progress.”

66. “After all the proper subjects of taxation have been exhausted, if the exigencies of the state still continue to require new taxes, they must be imposed upon improper ones.”

67. “The agents of [government] regard the wealth of their master as inexhaustible; are careless at what price they buy … at what price they sell.”

68. “[Governments are] …without exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society.”

69.“Man naturally desires, not only to be loved but to be lovely.”

Adam Smith Quotes on Nation

70. “The poor man’s son, whom heaven has in its anger visited with ambition, goes beyond admiration of palaces to envy. He labours all his life to outdo his competitors, only to find the end that the rich are no happier than the poor in the things that really matter.”

71. “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.”

72. “Labor was the first price, the original purchase – money that was paid for all things.”

73. “Every tax ought to be levied at the time, or in the manner, in which it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay…”

74. “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.”

75. “In general, if any branch of trade, or any division of labour, be advantageous to the public, the freer and more general the competition, it will always be the more so.”

76. “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.”

77. “The furious behaviour of an angry man is more likely to exasperate us against himself than against his enemies.”

78. “Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest in his own way and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man.”

79.  “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.”

80. “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.”

Adam Smith Quotes On Laissez Faire

81.  “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.”

82.  “Resentment seems to have been given us by nature for a defense, and for a defense only! It is the safeguard of justice and the security of innocence.”

83. “In raising the price of commodities, the rise of wages operates in the same manner as simple interest does in the accumulation of debt. Our merchants and master manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and thereby lessening the sale of their goods, both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits; they are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”

84. “A merchant, it has been said very properly, is not necessarily the citizen of any particular country.”

Adam Smith Quotes On Laissez Faire

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

86. “Defense is superior to opulence.”

87. “As soon as government management begins it upsets the natural equilibrium of industrial relations, and each interference only requires further bureaucratic control until the end is the tyranny of the totalitarian state.”

88. “The game women play is men.”

89. “Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to society… He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention”

90. “Happiness never lays its finger on its pulse.”

91. “The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamored with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it… He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that…in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it.”

92.“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 labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.”

93.“The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public … The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order … ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined … with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men … who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public.”

94. “The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess … It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue but something more than in that proportion.”

95. “To feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature.”

96. “The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another…”

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

98. “Adventure upon all the tickets in the lottery, and you lose for certain; and the greater the number of your tickets the nearer your approach to this certainty.”

99.“But the principle that impels us to save is the desire to improve our lot, who generally desire, indeed, is calm and dispassionate, but born with us and leaves us at the tomb.”

100. “The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.”

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