As far as I know, clever and miserable are both adjectives, not nouns. So why were they used with to buy? Is this an idiomatic way of saying You can't buy your kids intelligence and you're probably buying them (moral) misery? If so, what is the idiom used here? I'm not familiar with it.
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And (adding to oerkelens' statements about meaning), analysing the grammar involved, you're quite right, clever and miserable are still adjectives, referencing the (resulting state of) the kids here. This makes the usage a (resultative) transitive link-verb structure. However, it is a non-standard example, akin to
More common examples are:
Buy them clever and buy them miserable means that by spending money, you make them clever (or miserable).
In this case, what you buy them is education.
For the grammatical construct that is used, see Edwin Ashworth's answer :)
This is a case of the author using adjectives as nouns as a sort of grammatical liberty, as you suggested.
implies that "clever" is some sort of object, presumably the state of your kids being clever. And
means that "miserable" is the same sort of object, again, the state of your kids being miserable.
If you wanted a more strictly grammatical version, you could say:
which is pretty much what you thought in your question.
It's a coy reference to how people talk about their children.
The adjectival forms are fine as predicate adjectives following various forms of the verb to be.
The quote in the question is a response to those unstated goal. It uses the non-standard adjectival form for emphasis. It's a form of literary license.
There is a common aphorism in the US using similar constructions (although the adjectives are used nominatively rather than as predicates)
One could just as easily say Beauty fades but stupidity is forever, but it wouldn't have quite the same punch.
You are reading it the wrong way. The author is trying to say that you cannot buy your children smart or clever, off the shelf. You have to work on them and show them how to be clever and smart.