Adam Smith Comics: Trinkets of Frivolous Utility

art comics trinkets consumerism

Jason Meadows and Jeremy Lott

Many people associate Adam Smith with the idea that greed is good but Smith is very critical of individuals who pursue greedy ambitions even while acknowledging that their activities can benefit and be good for others. Our newest comic imagines a particularly awful couple of characters that Smith criticizes in The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Our fourth entry in NEW AdamSmithWorks comic series. In this piece, artist Jason Meadows teams up with editor and script author Jeremy Lott to remind us that greed isn't good and Adam Smith never said it was.

In Theory of Moral Sentiments he observes:
How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility? What pleases these lovers of toys is not so much the utility, as the aptness of the machines which are fitted to promote it. All their pockets are stuffed with little conveniences. They contrive new pockets, unknown in the clothes of other people, in order to carry a greater number. They walk about loaded with a multitude of baubles, in weight and sometimes in value not inferior to an ordinary Jew's-box [peddler’s box], some of which may sometimes be of some little use, but all of which might at all times be very well spared, and of which the whole utility is certainly not worth the fatigue of bearing the burden. (IV.1.6)

Want to learn more from reading?
Sarah Skwire's What would Adam Smith think about your iPhone?
Erik W. Matson's Perspectives from Smith on Wealth and Happiness
Kevin Stucker's Plato, Adam Smith, and the Good Life
Elizabeth M. Hull's Adam Smith and Silas Marner: Heaps of Gold

Want to learn more from comics?
Douglas Curtis and Jeremy Lott's Adam Smith Comics: The Invisible Hand and The Man of System
Paula Richey and Jeremy Lott's AdamSmithComics: The Opening of The Theory of Moral Sentiments