A parable of Adam Smith: when I grow up I want to be an executioner

One of many parables by that great story-teller, Adam Smith. It’s point is that difficulty, filth, and dishonour result in higher pay. So we read of the journeyman tailor, smith, and collier, only to come across the closing lines of the parable:

Honour makes a great part of the reward of all honourable professions. In point of pecuniary gain, all things considered, they are generally under-recompensed, as I shall endeavour to show by and by. Disgrace has the contrary effect. The trade of a butcher is a brutal and an odious business; but it is in most places more profitable than the greater part of common trades. The most detestable of all employments, that of public executioner, is in proportion to the quantity of work done, better paid than any common trade whatever.

Picture for a moment kids talking about what they want to be when they grow up: doctor, airline pilot, teacher, vet … no, I want to be an executioner.

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2 thoughts on “A parable of Adam Smith: when I grow up I want to be an executioner

  1. That’s why a prostitute earns more in an hour than most people in any business. It’s dishonorable, but who else would do it? A hooker in Las Vegas gets paid $700 at this very moment for doing the same things (or even more, let’s put it this way) than an average wife or occasional girlfriend. Adam Smith was right.

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