Abridged from ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’ (1776), by Adam Smith (1723-1790).
As our quality of life has risen, in order to maintain it we have come to need the help of more people than we can ever possibly know. Fortunately, we don’t need to meet them all, or win their pity. We can trade.
NOBODY ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog.
A spaniel endeavours by a thousand attractions to engage the attention of its master who is at dinner, when it wants to be fed by him. Man has not time, however, to do this upon every occasion.
In civilized society he stands at all times in need of the cooperation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons.
He will be more likely to prevail if he can show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them.
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 never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.
Abridged from ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’ (1776), by Adam Smith.