On Doing More Harm than Good

  • Gavin Kennedy


By way of warning, Smith pointed to the deleterious effects on society of depending on ‘revenue’, i.e., the rich spending their stock on a society of ‘idle’ servants or anybody else who consumed but did not create a ‘revenue’ for them, instead of employing industrious labourers who did create such revenues. In some cases, these consumers of revenue were truly idle, in the common meaning of the term, but it is wrong to interpret Smith’s ‘unproductive’ labour as necessarily always ‘idle’ and ‘useless’. The criterion at the base of Smith’s concepts of productive and unproductive labour is whether the labour added to future revenue or merely spent current revenue, i.e., was it ‘re-productive’?1


Joint Stock Company East India Company Future Revenue General Trade Current Revenue 
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Copyright information

© Gavin Kennedy 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gavin Kennedy
    • 1
  1. 1.EdinburghUK

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