It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of the subject never will.

Adam Smith (1723-1790) Scottish economist
The Wealth of Nations, Book II, ch. iii, sec. 36 (1776)
Added on 26-Sep-08 | Last updated 26-Sep-08
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