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The urge to distribute wealth equally, and still more the belief that it can be brought about by political action, is the most dangerous of all popular emotions. It is the legitimation of envy, of all the deadly sins the one which a stable society based on consensus should fear the most. The monster state is a source of many evils; but it is, above all, an engine of envy.

Paul Johnson (b. 1928) English journalist, historian, speechwriter, author
The Recovery of Freedom (1980)
Added on 11-Apr-17 | Last updated 11-Apr-17
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You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

William J. H. Boetcker (1873-1962) German-American religious leader, author, public speaker [William John Henry Boetcker]
“The Industrial Decalogue” (1916)

Often referred to as "The Ten Cannots," and also often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln.
Added on 14-Mar-17 | Last updated 14-Mar-17
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Everything is un-American that tends either to government by a plutocracy, or government by a mob. To divide along the lines of section or caste or creed is un-American. All privilege based on wealth, and all enmity to honest men merely because they are wealthy, are un-American — both of them equally so. Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood — the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Letter to S. Stanwood Menken (10 Jan 1917)
Added on 29-Jan-14 | Last updated 15-Jun-16
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There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
“A Cult of Ignorance,” Newsweek (21 Jan 1980)

More on this quotation here and here.
Added on 31-Dec-12 | Last updated 26-Oct-21
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Democracy means, not “I am as good as you are,” but, “You are as good as I am.”

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) American theologian and clergyman
The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, foreward (1944)

This quote was difficult to track down. It's quoted everywhere -- but often attributed to Theodore Parker (as I previously did) or James Russell Lowell. I couldn't find, however, any specific citation from either gentleman.

Rev. John Murray Atwood, in his essay "Universalism and Educational Ideas" in 1770-1920 - From Good Luck to Gloucester, ed. Rev. Frederick A Bisbee (1920), writes:

But he who not only feels that he himself has unknown, divine possibilities, but so has his fellow, that democracy means, not I am as good as you are, but you are as good as I am, who seeks as the expression of his own true nature the larger liberty and life for others, is the kind of man essential to construct a new world.

The book is a history of Universalism, which may tie into Theodore Parker's Unitarian career. At any rate, the wording does seem to precede Niebuhr, but lacking a solid citation, I'll leave it with him.
Added on 19-Sep-07 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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