15 Smart Things Adam Smith Said About Money

Adam Smith Wealth of Nations

Photo: Wiki Commons

Adam Smith. Father of capitalism. Coined “the invisible hand.” Wrote the oft referred to but rarely read, “Wealth of Nations.”He was also a deeply odd guy who mumbled to himself in public, lived with his mother until she died and ordered all of his many papers burned upon his death. But that is all beside the point.

What he was not, was brief. His “Wealth of Nations” ran to five volumes. Here are some choice and chosen words about an issue that looms large: Money.

We want money to buy things

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

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

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

You need money to make money

A great stock, though with small profits, generally increases faster than a small stock with great profits. Money, says the proverb, makes money. When you have a little, it is often easier to get more. The great difficulty is to get that little.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

The pursuit and exchange of money is uniquely human

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

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

The first money was labour

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 the wealth of the world was originally purchased.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

It is our nature to accumulate money

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

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

If you have money, you should be able to spend it as you see fit

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, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

The joy of having money is to show it off

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.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

We want payment on land we control

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.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

The production and sale of goods is not for the welfare of others

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. 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.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

Monopolies are a fact of life

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 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.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

Taxes should be gentle

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.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

Taxes should be convenient

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 it.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

The government's job is to protect those who have money from those who don't

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

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

Times get rough when too many people don't have money

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged.

Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations

Catch up on more reading

BOOK BITES: Check out all of the books we've covered >
Click here to purchase a copy of Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations.'

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.