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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 420 of the original edition of Edwin Cannan’s 1927 collection, An Economist’s Protest; specifically, it’s from Cannan’s June 1926 Economica article “The Gospel of Mutual Service,” written for the sesquicentennial of the publication of Adam Smith‘s An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (footnote deleted):

To change all this, to recognize that not a hoard of gold and silver, nor even a store of all kinds of valuable and useful things, is the end of economic endeavor, but instead a large continuous produce or supply of consumable necessaries and conveniences – that, in short, as Smith himself put it, “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production,” was a great service.  It marks the transition from the state of mind of the savage who can only think of what he has in hand, to the state of the civilized man who looks before, and considers himself well off when he is assured of having adequate supplies of food and other necessaries and conveniences in the future.

To focus on what one has at the moment compared to what someone else has at that same moment is too typical; such a focus is the dominant one of professors, pundits, preachers, popes, and politicians who seek to stir up envy in those who at the moment have less than others have at that same moment.  It is a focus so squinty that it utterly misses what is truly relevant.  It is the focus of a spoiled and tantrum-prone brat rather than that of a wise and peaceable adult.