Monday, July 14, 2008

Father of Economics Says: "Just Chill."

Adam Smith : "don't worry- be happy!"
He was one laid back in-the-moment dude. Maybe a closet Buddhist. OK, I haven't been reading Adam Smith in my spare time as I should, but I happened to run into the following unlikely quote while reading a transcript of a radio interview of Pankaj Mishra, author of "An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World."

I'm sure Adam would have been a cowboy surfer if wet suits had been available in 18th century Scotland. I think now I'll check into Max Weber's rumored formative years at an ashram followed by his brief stint on the pro skateboarding circuit. Maybe there is something to it after all.
Here is the quote:

"The poor man's son, whom heaven in its anger has visited with ambition, admires the condition of the rich. It appears in his fancy like the life of some superior rank of beings, and, in order to arrive at it, he devotes himself forever to the pursuit of wealth and greatness. Through the whole of his life, he pursues the idea of a certain artificial and elegant repose, which he may never arrive at, for which he sacrifices a real tranquility that is at all times in his power, and which, if in the extremity of old age, he should at last attain to it, he will find to be in no respect preferable to that humble security and contentment which he had abandoned for it. Power and riches appear, then, to be what they are, enormous machines contrived to produce a few trifling conveniences to the body. They are immense fabrics, which it requires the labor of a life to raise, which threaten every moment to overwhelm the person that dwells in them, and which, while they stand, can protect him from none of the severer inclemencies of the season. They keep off the summer shower, not the winter storm, but leave him always as much and sometimes more exposed than before to anxiety, to fear and to sorrow, to diseases, to danger and to death."

From: "Theory of Moral Sentiments" by Adam Smith 1759.