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Quotation of the Day…

Posted By Don Boudreaux On November 29, 2011 @ 7:44 am In Civil Society,Competition,Complexity & Emergence,Standard of Living,Trade | Comments Disabled

… is from David Hume’s essay “Of Commerce [1]” (here from page 264 of the 1985 Liberty Fund collection of Hume’s essays, edited by the late Eugene Miller, Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary [2]) [2]:

And this perhaps is the chief advantage which arises from a commerce with strangers.  It rouses men from their indolence; and presenting the gayer and more opulent part of the nation with objects of luxury, which they never before dreamed of, raises in them a desire of a more splendid way of life than what their ancestors enjoyed.  And at the same time, the few merchants, who possess the secret of this importation and exportation, make great profits; and becoming rivals in wealth to the ancient nobility, tempt other adventurers to become their rivals in commerce.  Imitation soon diffuses all those arts; while domestic manufactures emulate the foreign in their improvements, and work up every home commodity to the utmost perfection of which it is susceptible.  Their own steel and iron, in such laborious hands, become equal to the gold and rubies of the Indies.

Query: Would Robert Frank [3] regard the fact that “a commerce with strangers” “rouses men from their indolence” to be an advantage of commerce (as does Hume) or a disadvantage?

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URLs in this post:

[1] Of Commerce: http://oll.libertyfund.org/readinglists/print/206-wealth_commerce_and_corruption_in_hume_smith_and_ferguson

[2] Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary: http://www.amazon.com/Essays-Political-Literary-David-Hume/dp/0865970440/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322570583&sr=1-1

[3] Robert Frank: http://cafehayek.com/2011/09/frank-talk-with-frank.html

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