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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Adam Smith on spendthrift kings and ministers

This quotation from the second book of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations hits the nail firmly on the head.

“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 expence, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expence, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.”

If Adam Smith were alive today, he would undoubtedly be unstinting in his criticism of another famous man from Kirkcaldy, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

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