"The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert itself with freedom and security is so powerful a principle that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often incumbers its operations; though the effect of these obstructions is always more or less either to encroach upon its freedom, or to diminish its security. "
by:
Adam Smith
(1723-1790) Scottish philosopher and economist
Date:
1776
Source:
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations par. IV.5.82
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Reader comments about this quote:
The attack on the 2nd Amendment is highlighted in this quote ......."though the effect of these obstructions is always more or less either to encroach upon its freedom, or to diminish its security. " The encroachments placed on that right of freedom also diminishes the nations security. True words indeed Mr Smith.
 -- Anon     
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    Truer words were nere spake. Cheers! NDLG
     -- Anonymous, Franklin KY     
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    Good stuff but simplistic. Laws encroach on "our" freedoms because it has been shown time and time again that left to our own freedoms we will kill, rob, and steal from each other one way or another. The latest is the financial sector, need I mention World Com, Enron and other heists over the last decade. Accounting Rules and Certified Statements etcetera were created because people are basically liars. Most people are now skeptical of individuals trying to better themselves as being some kind of rip off artist.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Ahhh yes Comrad Waffler, the financial sector. Perhaps you are refering to lovely Janet Reno ordering the banks to allow people to make mortgage loans to people who could not make the payments. They were called "sub prime"loans as I recall. You remember dear old "burn 'em out in Waco" Janet. She worked for Slick Willie as attorney general and threatened banks with government "investigations" if they didn't make those loans. So don't blame the mortgage mess on anyone but the gang in Washington. Our government created the economic mess we are currently in and now we expect the same culprits to solve it. It's like asking Willie Sutton to guard the bank.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    Being insulated in Austin I guess you never heard of Enron. I know that you are not so naive Jim to know about scams. A public consumer who knows that he can get a fair deal, an honest weight, a good meal free of any contamination etcetera and further knows that if he doesn't he can then sue and litigate is a happy consumer and will drive the economy and make these businesses prosper. That happy consumer can only be made to exist when there is a system of laws and protections that makes a fair playing field for everyone. In the short run someone may be able to better themselves at others expense but in the long run they usually get found out but it is often to late for some of the trusting public. Laws and a sense of securty for the otherwise unsuspecting suckers is a good thing in my value system. Adam is great, and simple but does not go far enough in these onesife quotes.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    yep
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Understood by everyone who wants to carry their own weight. This quote is very timely given the cry from the collectivists for free lunch socialist programs.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    The principle has not changed.
     -- Bob, Marianna     
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    Government itself is not above the follies of human nature that Waffler describes. Government will not hesitate to kill, steal, and rob us given the opportunity. In each and everyone of the financial scandals that has happened in the last forty years (at least) you will find government and so-called "private" business are in collusion. Corporations and politicians have one hand in the others' pocket and the other hand around their throat. They are both bribing and extorting each other at the same time. If us lowly peons want to control them, stop buying what the hucksters are selling and stop electing the thieves.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Touche Ken touche! And lets get Geithner, and Daschle the tax cheats out of the cabinet. Your words are appropriate and fair Ken, thanks.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    It's Adam Smith, a Scottish philosopher and economist and a pebbles throw from a Calvinist economist. You wouldn't expect anything else.
     -- anonymous     
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    Waffler says, "it has been shown time and time again that left to our own freedoms we will kill, rob, and steal from each other." SO, based on that rather arbitrary judgement of ALL people, someone (who is somehow not a natural-born murderous thief) is to dictate rules to the rest of us and hire mercenaries to enforce the edicts upon threat of imprisonment or worse. This is all for the common good, mind you.

    Of course, inevitably wherever there are seats of power created by statute, the most insatiable power mongers are drawn there, where they WILL murder, rob, imprison, and utterly destroy anyone who does not 'serve' them (who they identify themselves as the public good itself).

    I suggest you actually learn what American Law is actually based upon. The Common Law has no authority to develop social programs to recondition people into some new order. The purpose of courts is to administrate justice, not to fix perceived societal ills -- that is the purpose of religion and other private charities. Our government is not supposed to be a charity -- it is supposed to be a protector against any encroachments on our liberties, particularly by "well-meaning" politicians.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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     -- Ronw13, Oregon      
     
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