Harvard Prof. Sees Ben Franklin’s “Way to Wealth” as Source for America’s Brand of Capitalism

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James T. Berger
Senior Marketing Writer

Published September 11, 2015

Harvard Business School Asst. Professor Sophus A, Reinert and his colleagues have dug into history to explore the American brand of capitalism and its global impact.

Benjamin Franklin turns up at the source in a time when America was inhabited by that stern breed of Puritan Protestants who came to the New World for religious freedom. They were hard working and industrious, and Franklin captured their spirit in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. An essay entitled The Way to Wealth first appeared as a sermon by Father Abraham in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1758.

This fascinating historical architectural finding appears in the Aug. 31, 2015, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge in an article by Julia Hanna. Clearly these thoughts have inspired many an entrepreneur.

According to Reinert, “I’m interested in how ideas reflect but also change economic realities – and how ideas can translate into policies.”  He adds that he is intrigued by the lasting power of Franklin’s treatise on industry and frugality and its influence on capitalism, as we know it today.

Going back to the original The Way to Wealth treatise, we find the following gems:

“We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride,    and four times as much by our folly.”

“God helps them that help themselves.”

“Sloth , like rust, consumes faster than pabor wears; where the used key is always bright.”

“The sleeping fox catches no poultry.”

“What we call time enough is always little enough.”

“He that riseth late must trot all day and shall scarce overtake his business at night”

“Drive they business, let not that drive three; and early tyo bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

“Industry pays debts, while despair increases them.”

“Diligence is the mother of good luck. And God gives all things to industry.”

“Plough deep while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep.”

“Never leave to tomorrow what you can do today.”

“A small leak will sink a great ship.”

“If you would know the value of money, go out and borrow some; for he that goes borrowing goes a sorrowing.”

“The second vice is lying, the first is running in debt.”

“Creditors have better memories than debtors.”


About The Author

James T. Berger headshot
James T. Berger, Senior Marketing Writer of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit www.jamesberger.net or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.