Uncle Ben Franklin’s Lessons in Capitalism: The Best of Poor Richard’s Dictums

For one taking the first steps upon the long Capitalist road from penury to wealth, there are few more valuable guideposts of Reason than the observations and wisdom of “Uncle” Benjamin Franklin, who was the physical embodiment of the economic philosophy of America. In his Poor Richard’s wise sayings, we find the basic wisdom that guided the men of the 18th century in their economic thinking, and which undoubtedly reflected a general psychology that must have existed for centuries before Franklin wrote down these gems of wisdom. Some of them are not originally Franklin’s, but come to us from general sayings of the times, or from various specific cultures. But they all seem to reflect a basic wisdom and insight into universal human behaviour when it comes to economic matters, and we can easily recognize ourselves and our own past economic follies when we read them.

Silverwolf read these when he was a wage-slave, beginning the miserable process of accumulating Capital, a process in which the first hundred steps are the hardest, and which, the longer one works at it, becomes easier and easier. They provided inspiration and insight into the truths of Capitalism and general human economic psychology that were invaluable, not only in observing ones own economic behaviour, but also in observing the behaviour of others. Make a foolish mistake and learn from it, and one will be able to recognize that mistake in others.

Anyway, for what it is worth, Silverwolf gathered together all the dictums of Poor Richard, published by Franklin in the 1730s and 1740s, and selected those which he thought were the most relevent to the budding Capitalist in terms of economic behaviour, but also those that reflected wisely on the necessary psychological outlook of the would-be Free-Marketeer. And here they are:

Light purse, heavy heart.

When bread is wanting, all is to be sold.

Would you live with ease, do what you ought, and not what you please.

Hope of gain, lessens pain.

All things are easy to industry, difficult to sloth.

Necessity never made a good bargain.

Diligence is the mother of good luck.

Wealth is not his who has it, but his who enjoys it.

He that buys by the penny maintains not only himself, but other people.

The use of money is all the advantage in having money.

If you have time, don’t wait for time.

There are three faithful friends, an old wife, and old dog, and ready money.

At a great pennyworth, pause a while.

Industry need not wish.

If you’d be wealthy, think of saving more than getting.

Industry, perserverance, and frugality make fortune yield.

Sloth (like rust) consumes faster than labour wears; the used key is always bright.

Light gains, heavy purses.

He that resolves to mend hereafter, resolves not to mend now.

Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge.

What maintains one vice would bring up two children.

Many have be ruined by buying good pennyworths.

Tis a well-spent penny that saves a groat.

Great estates may venture more; little boats must keep to shore.

Patience in market is worth pounds in the year.

Diligence overcomes difficulties; sloth makes them.

Sloth moves so slowly that Industry must run all day to catch up to it.

Get what you can, and what you get hold, Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold.

Diligence is the mother of good-luck.

Creditors have better memories than debtors.

If you desire many things, many things will seem but a few.

After crosses and losses, men grow humbler and wiser.

The creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times.

Buy what thou hast no need of, and e’er long thou shall sell thy necessaries.

Lend money to an enemy and thou’lt gain him, to a friend, and thou’lt lose him.

Lying rides upon Debt’s back.

Well done, is twice done.

He that hath a trade, hath an estate.

He that speaks ill of the Mare, will buy her.

If you’d lose a troublesome visitor, lend him money.

He who multiplies Riches, multiplies Cares.

The second vice is lying; the first is running in debt.

Wise men learn by other’s harms; Fools by their own.

Drink does not drown care, but waters it, and makes it grow faster.

The busy man has few idle visitors; to the boiling pot the flies come not.

If you’d know the value of money, go and borrow some.

Beware of little Expenses, a small Leak will sink a great ship.

He who buys had need have 100 eyes, but one’s enough for him that sells the stuff.

When the Well’s dry, we know the Worth of Water.

The Borrower is a Slave to the Lender, the Security to both.

Spare and have is better than spend and crave.

The Art of getting Riches consists very much in THRIFT. All men are not equally qualified for getting Money, but it is in the Power of every one alike to practice this Virtue.

Well, there you have it. All the distilled wisdom you need to set the Capitalist world on fire with your activities in the Market. Just add in a reading of Professor Murray Rothbard’s “Man, State, and Economy”, along with its adjunct, “Power and Market”, and you’ve got all the basic true knowledge you need to be a Capitalist.

Hoooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

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