When Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations in the 1770s he did so to guide governments to what he termed universal opulence.
Smith articulated a vision where self-interest through a market economy intertwined with government efforts for the common good would bring about a state of abundance for all.
We’re living in that world and we don’t see it.
In Smith’s time the vast populace was uneducated. Laborers worked six and seven days a week, with each workday far longer than what we know today. Child labor was rampant. Humans not at the top of the chain were little more than beasts of burden.
Today we live in Smith’s universal opulence. Most of us are literate to some degree. Our common day contains so many wonders that if Adam Smith were to come back and experience them he’d think it was heaven. He’d be amazed we weren’t dancing in the streets.
TVs, computers, information in seconds, phones to speak to whomever we damn well please no matter where they are, roofs that don’t catch on fire or drop lice on us.
Choice in where we work and live. Choice in religion (or no religion). Choice in fabrics and colors and devices so plentiful we can’t begin to name them all.
Homes with floors. Homes with toilets. Indoors! The ability to conjure our own favorite temperature. Glass windows even for those who are poor.
Transportation more wondrous than fabled magic carpets.
And you could tick off many others. You could get up from this screen you’re reading and within 100 feet you could find 1,000 commonplace items that would be miracles to Adam Smith.
So why don’t we feel it?
What more do we require to feel awe at this existence?