Adam Smith Quotes | Quotes by Adam Smith

1A true party-man hates and despises candour.

2The 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.

3The 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.

4Nothing but the most exemplary morals can give dignity to a man of small fortune.

5What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.

6Avarice and injustice are always shortsighted, and they did not foresee how much this regulation must obstruct improvement, and thereby hurt in the long-run the real interest of the landlord.

7Men, like animals, naturally multiply in proportion to the means of their subsistence.

8The annual produce of the land and labour of any nation can be increased in its value by no other means, but by increasing either the number of its productive labourers, or the productive powers of those labourers who had before been employed.

9The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.

10A nation is not made wealthy by the childish accumulation of shiny metals, but it enriched by the economic prosperity of it's people.

Adam Smith Quotes

11Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.

12Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog.

13Defense is superior to opulence.

14By nature a philosopher is not in genius and disposition half so different from a street porter, as a mastiff is from a greyhound

15As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation.

16Individual Ambition Serves the Common Good.

17Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens.

18Every 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

19With 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.

20The liberal reward of labor, therefore, as it is the necessary effect, so it is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth. The scanty maintenance of the laboring poor, on the other hand, is the natural symptom that things are at a stand, and their starving condition that they going backwards fast.

Adam Smith Quotes

21All money is a matter of belief.

22Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.

23It 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.

24But what all the violence of the feudal institutions could never have effected, the silent and insensible operation of foreign commerce and manufactures gradually brought about.

25The man scarce lives who is not more credulous than he ought to be... The natural disposition is always to believe. It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity, and they very seldom teach it enough.

26Both ground- rents and the ordinary rent of land are a species of revenue which the owner, in many cases, enjoys without any care or attention of his own. The annual produce of the land and labour of the society, the real wealth and revenue of the great body of the people, might be the same after such a tax as before. Ground-rents, and the ordinary rent of land are, therefore, perhaps the species of revenue which can best bear to have a peculiar tax imposed upon them.

27A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even upon most occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation.

28A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural.

29Great nations are never impoverished by private, though they sometimes are by public prodigality and misconduct.

30Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.

Adam Smith Quotes

31The 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.

32The great secret of education is to direct vanity to proper objects.

33Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this - no dog exchanges bones with another.

34I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

35To 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.

36Every man lives by exchanging.

37The rate of profit... is naturally low in rich and high in poor countries, and it is always highest in the countries which are going fastest to ruin.

38Problems worthy of attacks, prove their worth by hitting back

39All registers which, it is acknowledged, ought to be kept secret, ought certainly never to exist.

40I have no great faith in political arithmetic, and I mean not to warrant the exactness of either of these computations.

Adam Smith Quotes

41Mercantile jealousy is excited, and both inflames, and is itself inflamed, by the violence of national animosity.

42It is not for its own sake that men desire money, but for the sake of what they can purchase with it.

43It is the natural effect of improvement, however, to diminish gradually the real price of almost all manufactures.

44The proprietor of stock is necessarily a citizen of the world, and is not necessarily attached to any particular country.

45In a militia, the character of the laborer, artificer, or tradesman, predominates over that of the soldier: in a standing army, that of the soldier predominates over every other character.

46All 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.

47Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production.

48In every part of the universe we observe means adjusted with the nicest artifice to the ends which they are intended to produce; and in the mechanism of a plant, or animal body, admire how every thing is contrived for advancing the two great purposes of nature, the support of the individual, and the propagation of the species.

49The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life which it annually consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labour, or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations.

50The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured 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.

Adam Smith Quotes

51The 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.'

52By 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.

53This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts.

54Consumption 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.

55The value of any commodity, therefore, to the person who possesses it, and who means not to use or consume it himself, but to exchange it for other commodities, is equal to the quantity of labour which it enables him to purchase or command. 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.

56Have lots of experiments, but make sure they're strategically focused.

57That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is most often unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.

58It is not the actual greatness of national wealth, but its continual increase, which occasions a rise in the wages of labour. 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 labour are highest. England is certainly, in the present times, a much richer country than any part of North America. The wages of labour, however, are much higher in North America than in any part of England.

59The 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.

60The tolls for the maintenance of a high road, cannot with any safety be made the property of private persons.