Make Someone Else’s Life Better

Econ Professor David Henderson gives a hat-tip to Bob Murphy for this wisdom from Will Smith:

Henderson likes Will’s wisdom at the 3:30 and 7 minute marks.  Me too.

I also liked what he had to say between 4 minutes and 4:35, especially this:

If you are not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better, you know, by making others’ lives better.

As I commented on Henderson’s post, I believe most people will understand this wisdom to mean giving in a charitable way.  However, I also think it captures the meaning of this Adam Smith quote:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chuses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens. Even a beggar does not depend upon it entirely.

Perhaps Adam and Will are related.

In this quote, the long-dead Smith explains the positive sum universe of capitalism: voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange. Simply put, we choose to trade with others because we value what we give up in the trade less than what we gain.  Likewise for those trading with us.

Even simpler: capitalism is win-win, not win-lose.

I’m certain Will Smith had a charitable note in his wisdom.  I’m also believe he included family and community responsibility.

But, given that Will has been quite successful in the capitalist realm, I imagine he understands and included Adam Smith’s secret potion that benefits so many people on a daily basis with so few of those people seeming to grasp it.  It’s why I get to eat king crab just about whenever I want.

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One thought on “Make Someone Else’s Life Better

  1. thx for reminding me to dig back into smith.
    dave chappelle has a great interview with oprah where he points out how hollywood is out to corrupt the image of the black (heterosexual) man.

    i like will smith. 6 degrees was a breakthrough film for him. i wonder if he had to compromise any of his values to act in it. maybe he has the courage to be tolerant. one thing is for sure. i need to hit the treadmill. =]

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