Adam Smith Comics: The Butcher, The Baker, and the Brewer

trade art an animal that trades self interest butcher brewer baker comics

May 25, 2023

How does an economist explain the glory of food trucks to a curious kid—at bedtime? 
Artist Paula Richey and script author and editor Jeremy Lott take one of Adam Smith's most famous images and make it their own.  From Book I, Chapter 2 of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations:

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. The charity of well-disposed people, indeed, supplies him with the whole fund of his subsistence. But though this principle ultimately provides him with all the necessaries of life which he has occasion for, it neither does nor can provide him with them as he has occasion for them. The greater part of his occasional wants are supplied in the same manner as those of other people, by treaty, by barter, and by purchase. With the money which one man gives him he purchases food. The old cloaths which another bestows upon him he exchanges for other old cloaths which suit him better, or for lodging, or for food, or for money, with which he can buy either food, cloaths, or lodging, as he has occasion.

Want to learn more?
Jacob Sider Jost's Bargaining with the Butcher, Baker, and Brewer: A New Look at Smith’s Most Famous Sentences
AdamSmithWorks "An Animal That Trades" Video Series
For teachers: Bellringer on Butcher, Brewer, Baker and Lesson plan on Trade for the Win

Check out our other AdamSmithWorks comics:
Douglas Curtis and Jeremy Lott's Adam Smith Comics: The Invisible Hand, The Man of System, and Science is the Great Antidote
Paula Richey and Jeremy Lott's AdamSmithComics: The Opening of The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Jason Meadows and Jeremy Lott's Adam Smith Comics: Trinkets of Frivolous Utility