The Wealth of Nations Revisited

Posted in Healthy Food & Agriculture on October 2nd, 2011 by dhawkinsmo

CoinsIn 1776, the same year of the American Declaration of Independence, Adam Smith wrote “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” generally referred to by its shortened title “The Wealth of Nations.” What makes a nation wealthy? According to this summary of Smith’s work, “Smith held that the wealth of a nation, what we today call the income of a nation, depends upon (1) the productivity of labor and (2) the proportion of laborers who are usefully or productively employed.” Smith was all about division of labor and productivity and the origin of money and such.

But hold on. What is wealth? What is it really? At it’s core? Am I wealthy because I have indoor plumbing? Or because I drive a Volvo? Or because I can choose between a hundred different kinds of boxed cereal at the grocery store? Or because I have a cell phone? Or because I have a big bank account? Hmm. Is my nation (America) wealthy because most people in America have all these things? Is my nation wealthy because we have thousands of massive farms which grow millions of bushels of corn and soybeans using huge combines with air conditiong, TV and GPS? What if those farms (and those farming practices) are destroying our soil instead of building it? Then what? What if 100 years from now America is like the Sahara Desert? Will we be wealthy then? Something tells me that indoor plumbing and Volvos will be irrelevant if we cannot eat.

So what is real tangible wealth? (I’m interested in TANGIBLE wealth in this article, which is to be distinguished from REAL wealth, that is, Treasure in Heaven. See Matthew 6:19-21.)

I would have to say that at the bottom of it, at the foundation of of it … THE (TANGIBLE) WEALTH OF NATIONS IS LAND. Let me repeat that in bold type.


And it so happens that our land – our farmland that is – is being destroyed. Year by year. Inch by inch. If you don’t believe me, read Joel Salatin’s book “The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer.” He’s the guy who Chipotle buys their meat from. And in my opinion he’s one of the most important visionaries of modern times. He should get a Nobel prize but I’m sure that will never happen. After all, he’s a lunatic. Anyone who says they are a farmer but doesn’t own a plow is a lunatic, right? Read more »