Study Guide

The Wealth of Nations Pride

By Adam Smith

Pride

In The Wealth of Nations, human pride and arrogance tend to get in the way of good economics more than anything else. For example, evidence clearly showed in Smith's time that it was more efficient to have paid workers than to have slaves. But people just loved having power over others so much (jerks) that they'd rather lose money on slaves than have to pay their workers.

On top of that, whole economies get ruined because governments think they can make the market work better if they interfere in it. But in Smith's view, this kind of pride almost always leads to less happiness for humankind.

Questions About Pride

  1. Why do you think people in Smith's time wanted to own slaves even though it was clear that having wage workers was more cost effective? Where in the book does Smith discuss this?
  2. In Smith's view, how would it affect the national economy if people just got over their foolish pride? Why?
  3. Do you think that the free markets will eventually force people to be more rational? Why or why not?

Chew on This

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith shows us that there is nothing more harmful to human happiness than people who are proud enough to think they can control the market.

The Wealth of Nations shows us that in a free market, there will always be proud people who get monopolies and make the market less free.