I am reading the excellent book P.J O'Rourke's On The Wealth of Nations. He gives a general introduction to the wealth and then goes chapter by chapter illuminating the relevance for today of Smith's ideas. Four of the fundamental insights that I find helpful in looking at the present are.

1. Consumption is the sole end and purpose of production. This is a nice thing to keep in mind with all the rebuilding after floods and natural disasters.

2. Self interest is good and natural. Incentives matter. People work harder when pursuing their own interests. In the old days, people had to subject their egos and aspirations but in modern times the breakdown of feudalism has allowed people to pursue happiness.

3. The way to increase wealth is through specialization and division of labor. Eveyone has a comparative advantage at some trade or fancy.

4. Trade creates mutual benefit. Bettering the position of one person in a trade invariably tends to better the position of the other person in the trade. Wealth is not a pizza.

If only those who wish to take from one class like the rich and give to another like the middle class would understand these 4 principles, the world would be a much better place.


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