Playfair on the movement of wealth

The general conclusion is that wealth and power have never been long permanent in any place… and that they travel over the face of the earth, something like a caravan of merchants. On their arrival everything is found green and fresh; while they remain, all is bustle and abundance, and, when gone, all is left trampled down, barren and bare.

William Playfair
An Enquiry into the Permanent Causes of the Decline and Fall of Powerful and Wealthy Nations

It would be facile to approach this quotation smugly. It would be more prudent to think about what it might imply about us, the way we live, and the consequences of that lifestyle.

Might I also direct your attention to the balanced, periodic sentence structure, which enables a more complex thought to be expressed, stretching the mind just a little more, than the conventional manner of writing forced on us by our school teachers?


2 Responses

  1. Andrew,

    His name, Playfair, seems appropriate to his observation. In contrast the man, Madoff, in our day, is properly named to his mission of get all you can while you can. Seems to me their names are metaphors for their times.


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