Quotations about:
    money


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As my father used to say: “There are two sure ways to lose a friend, one is to borrow, the other to lend.”

Patrick Rothfuss
Patrick Rothfuss (b. 1973) American author
The Name of the Wind, ch. 49 “The Nature of Wild Things” (2007)
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Added on 30-Mar-23 | Last updated 30-Mar-23
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You now can see, dear son, the short-lived pranks
that goods consigned to Fortune’s hand will play,
causing such squabbles in the human ranks.
For all the gold that lies beneath the moon —
or all that ever did lie there — would bring
no respite to these worn-out souls, not one.

[Or puoi, figliuol, veder la corta buffa
d’i ben che son commessi a la fortuna,
per che l’umana gente si rabuffa;
ché tutto l’oro ch’è sotto la luna
e che già fu, di quest’anime stanche
non poterebbe farne posare una.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 7, l. 61ff (7.61-66) [Virgil] (1320) [tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]
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On the never-ending labor and contention between the hoarders and the wasters. (Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Therefore, my Son, the vanity you may
Of Fortune's gifts perceive, for which Mankind
Raise such a bustle, and so much contend.
Not all the Gold which is beneath the moon,
Or which was by these wretched Souls possess'd,
Could ever satisfy their craving minds.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 53ff]

Learn hence of mortal things how vain the boast,
Learn to despise the low, degen'rate host,
And see their wealth how poor, how mean their pride;
Not all the mines below the wand'ring moon,
Not all the sun beholds at highest noon,
Can for a moment bid the fray subside.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 11]

Now may’st thou see, my son! how brief, how vain,
The goods committed into fortune’s hands,
For which the human race keep such a coil!
Not all the gold, that is beneath the moon,
Or ever hath been, of these toil-worn souls
Might purchase rest for one.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Now may'st thou, son, behold how brief the shuffle
Of goods by shifting Fortune held in store,
For which the human kind so fiercely ruffle:
Since all below the moon of golden ore
That lies, or all those weary souls possessed,
Could purchase none a moment's peace the more.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

But thou, my Son, mayest [now] see the brief mockery of the goods that are committed unto Fortune, for which the human kind contend with each other.
For all the gold that is beneath the moon, or ever was, could not give rest to a single one of these weary souls.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Now see, my son, how frivolous and vain
The goods committed unto Fortune's hand,
For which the race will so rebutting stand.
Not all the gold that is beneath the moon,
Nor all these toil-worn creatures have possessed,
could purchase for them but a moment's rest.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

And now, my son, behold the folly brief
of the world's goods to fortune's guidance given,
And for which men so struggle and dispute.
Not all the gold that is beneath the moon,
Or ever was, unto these wearied souls
Could give one hour of respite or of peace.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Now canst thou. Son, behold the transient farce
Of goods that are committed unto Fortune,
For which the human race each other buffet;
For all the gold that is beneath the moon,
Or ever has been, of these weary souls
Could never make a single one repose.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Now canst thou, my son, see the short game of the goods which are entrusted to Fortune, for which the human race buffet each other. For all the gold that is beneath the moon and that ever was, of these wearied souls could never make one of them rest.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Now thou canst see, O son, the short-lived day
Of good, committed unto Fortune's 'hest,
For which the human race so strives alway.
Since all the gold beneath the moon possest,
Or ever owned by those worn souls of yore,
Could not make one of them one moment rest.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Now canst thou, son, see the brief jest of the goods that are committed unto Fortune, for which the human race so scramble; for all the gold that is beneath the moon, or that ever was, of these weary souls could not make a single one repose.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Here mayest thou see, my son, the fleeting mockery of wealth that is the sport of Fortune, for sake of which men strive with one another. For all the gold that is, or ever hath been beneath the moon, could not procure repose for one of these weary souls.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

Now canst thou see, my son, how vain and short-lived
Are the good things committed unto fortune,
For which sake human folk set on each other.
For all the gold on which the moon now rises,
Or ever rose, would be quite unavailing
To set one of these weary souls at quiet.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Now mayst thou see, my son, the brief mockery of wealth committed to fortune, for which the race of men embroil themselves; for all the gold that is beneath the moon, or ever was, could not give rest to one of these weary souls.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Now, my son, see to what a mock are brought
The goods of Fortune's keeping, and how soon!
Though to possess them still is all man's thought.
For all the gold that is beneath the moon,
Or ever was, never could buy repose
For one of those souls, faint to have that boon.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

See now, my son, the fine and fleeting mock
Of all those goods men wrangle for -- the boon
That is delivered into the hand of Luck;
For all the gold that is beneath the moon,
Or ever was, could not avail to buy
Repose for one of these weary souls -- not one.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Now may you see the fleeting vanity
of the goods of Fortune for which men tear down
all that they are, to build a mockery.
Not all the gold that is or ever was
under the sky could buy for one of these
exhausted souls the fraction of a pause.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

Now you can see, my son, the brief mockery of the goods that are committed to Fortune, for which humankind contend with one another; because all the gold that is beneath the moon, or ever was, would not give rest to a single one of these weary souls.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

You see, my son, the short-lived mockery
of all the wealth that is in Fortune's keep,
over which the human race is bickering;
for all the gold that is or ever was
beneath the moon won't buy a moment's rest
for even one among these weary souls.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

Now you can see, my son, how brief's the sport
of all those goods that are in Fortune's care,
for which the tribe of men contend and brawl;
for all the gold that is or ever was
beneath the moon could never offer rest
to even one of these exhausted spirits.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

Now you can see, my son, how short a life
Have the gifts which are distributed by Fortune,
And for which people get rough with one another:
So that all the gold there is beneath the moon
And all there ever was, could never give
A moment's rest to one of these tired souls.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Now you can see, my son, how ludicrous
And brief are all the goods in Fortune's ken,
Which humankind contend for: you see from this
How all the gold there is beneath the moon,
Or that there ever was, could not relieve
One of these weary souls.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 55ff]

Now you can see, my son, the brief mockery of the goods that are committed to Fortune, for which the human race so squabbles;
for all the gold that is under the moon and that ever was, could not give rest to even one of these weary souls.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

But you, my son, can see now the vain mockery of the wealth controlled by Fortune, for which the human race fight with each other, since all the gold under the moon, that ever was, could not give peace to one of these weary souls.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Now you see, my son, what brief mockery
Fortune makes of goods we trust her with,
for which the race of men embroil themselves.
All the gold that lies beneath the moon,
or ever did, could never give a moment's rest
to any of these wearied souls.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Now see, my son, the futile mockery
Of spending a life accumulating possessions,
Competing with fortune and men for worthless frippery:
Take all the gold still lying under the moon,
Add all that ever was and you could not buy
A moment of rest for one of these souls -- not one.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

You see it clear,
My son: the squalid fraud as brief as life
Of goods consigned to Fortune, whereupon
Cool heads come to the boil, hands to the knife.
For all the gold there is, and all that's gone,
Would give no shred of peace to even one
Of these drained souls.
[tr. James (2013), l. 56ff]

 
Added on 17-Feb-23 | Last updated 17-Feb-23
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Unexpected money is a delight. The same sum is a bitterness when you expected more.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Letter to Orion Clemens (23 Mar 1878)
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Added on 22-Dec-22 | Last updated 22-Dec-22
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NOTE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AND AMERICANS: One shilling = Five Pee. It helps to understand the antique finances of the Witchfinder Army if you know the original British monetary system:

Two Farthings = One Ha’penny. Two Ha’pennies = One Penny. Three Pennies = A Thrupenny Bit. Two Thrupences = A Sixpence. Two Sixpences = One Shilling, or Bob. Two Bob = A Florin. One Florin and One Sixpence = Half a Crown. Four Half Crowns = Ten Bob Note. Two Ten Bob Notes = One Pound (or 240 pennies). One Pound and One Shilling = One Guinea.

The British resisted decimalized currency for a long time because they thought it was too complicated.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Good Omens, “Saturday” (1990) [with Neil Gaiman]
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Added on 8-Dec-22 | Last updated 15-Dec-22
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Two tests of integrity: finding money and losing money.

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Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (1963-03)
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A conservative is a man who has plenty of money and doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t always have plenty of money.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
“We’re Off to a Flying Start,” Column #535 (26 Mar 1933)
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Collected in Steven Grager, ed., Will Rogers' Weekly Articles, Vol. 6 "The Roosevelt Years, 1933-1935" (2011 ed.). Also reprinted in abbreviated format, in Donald Day, ed., The Autobiography of Will Rogers (1949).
 
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When citizens are relatively equal, politics has tended to be fairly democratic. When a few individuals hold enormous amounts of wealth, democracy suffers. The reason for this pattern is simple. Through campaign contributions, lobbying, influence over public discourse, and other means, wealth can be translated into political power. When wealth is highly concentrated — that is, when a few individuals have enormous amounts of money — political power tends to be highly concentrated, too. The wealthy few tend to rule. Average citizens lose political power. Democracy declines.

Benjamin Page
Benjamin I. Page (b. 1940) American political scientist, academic, researcher
Democracy in America?: What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It, Part 1, ch. 2 (2017) [with Martin Gilens]
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Added on 26-Jul-22 | Last updated 26-Jul-22
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There can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.

Hugo Black (1886-1971) American politician and jurist, US Supreme Court Justice (1937-71)
Griffin v. Illinois, 351 US 12, 19 (1956) [majority opinion]
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On the Constitutional requirement for states to ensure not only that trial defense is available to poor defendants, but that appeals costs be addressed as well.
 
Added on 16-Jun-22 | Last updated 2-Feb-23
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You see we make our writers into something very strange. […] We destroy them in many ways. First, economically. They make money. It is only by hazard that a writer makes money although good books always make money eventually. Then our writers when they have made some money increase their style of living and are caught. They have to write to keep up their establishment, their wives, and so on, and they write slop. It is slop not on purpose but because it is hurried. Because they are ambitious. Then, once they have betrayed themselves, they justify it and you get more slop. Or else they read the critics. If they believe the critics when they say they are great then they must believe them when they say they are rotten and they lose confidence. At present we have two good writers who cannot write because they have lost confidence through reading the critics. If they wrote, sometimes it would be good and sometimes not so good and sometimes it would be quite bad, but the good would get out. But they have read the critics, and they must write masterpieces. The masterpieces the critics said they wrote. They weren’t masterpieces, of course. They were just quite good books. So now they cannot write at all. The critics have made them impotent.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) American writer
Green Hills of Africa, ch. 1 (1935)
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Speaking of American writers.
 
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Books are one of the few things men cherish deeply. And the better the man, the more easily will he part with his most cherished possessions. A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation. Lend and borrow to the maximum — of both books and money. But especially books, for books represent infinitely more than money.

Henry Miller (1891-1980) American novelist
The Books in My Life, ch. 1 (1952)
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Added on 12-Apr-22 | Last updated 12-Apr-22
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Power is like money. You can usually get it if you’re competent and it’s the only thing you want in life.

Roger Zelazny (1937-1995) American writer
Trumps of Doom, ch. 3 [Merlin] (1985)
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Money is like sex. It seems much more important when you don’t have any.

Bukowski - Money is like sex It seems much more important when you don't have any - wist.info quote

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Hollywood, ch. 4 (1989)
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The life of making money is a life people are, as it were, forced into, and wealth is clearly not the good we are seeking, since it is merely useful, for getting something else.

[ὁ δὲ χρηματιστὴς βίαιός τις ἐστίν, καὶ ὁ πλοῦτος δῆλον ὅτι οὐ τὸ ζητούμενον ἀγαθόν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 1, ch. 5 (1.5, 1096a.5) (c. 325 BC) [tr. Crisp (2000)]
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Rackham notes the term βίαιος (translated under compulsion/constraint) is "literally ‘violent’; the adjective is applied to the strict diet and and laborious exercises of athletes, and to physical phenomena such as motion, in the sense of ‘constrained,’ ‘not natural.’"

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

As for the life of money-making, it is one of constraint, and wealth manifestly is not the good we are seeking, because it is for use, that is, for the sake of something further.
[tr. Chase (1847), ch. 3]

As for the money-getting life, it violates the natural fitness of things. Wealth is clearly not the absolute good of which we are in search, for it is a utility, and nonly desirable as a means.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

The life of money-making is in a sense a life of constraint, and it is clear that wealth is not the good of which we are in quest; for it is useful in part as a means to something else.
[tr. Welldon (1892), ch. 3]

As for the money-making life, it is something quite contrary to nature; and wealth evidently is not the good of which we are in search, for it is merely useful as a means to something else.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

The Life of Money-making is a constrained kind of life, and clearly wealth is not the Good we are in search of, for it is only good as being useful, a means to something else.
[tr. Rackham (1934), 1.5.8]

The life of a moneymaker is in a way forced, and wealth is clearly not the good we are looking for, since it was useful and for the sake of something else.
[tr. Reeve (1948), ch. 5]

As for the life of a money-maker, it is one of tension; and clearly the good sought is not wealth, for wealth is instrumental and is sought for the sake of something else.
[tr. Apostle (1975), ch. 3]

As for the life of the businessman, it does not give him much freedom of action. Besides, wealth is obviously not the good that we are seeking, because it serves only as a means; i.e., for getting something else.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

The moneymaking life is characterized by a certain constraint, and it is clear that wealth is not the good being sought, for it is a useful thing and for the sake of something else.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

 
Added on 5-Oct-21 | Last updated 14-Dec-21
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Preacher preaching love like vengeance
Preaching love like hate
Calling for large donations
Promising estates
Rolling lawns and angel bands
Behind the pearly gates
You know he will have his in this life
But yours will have to wait
He’s immaculately tax free

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) Canadian singer-songwriter and painter [b. Roberta Joan Anderson]
“Tax Free” Joni Mitchell (1985)
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Added on 17-Sep-21 | Last updated 17-Sep-21
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Debt is the sort of Bedfellow who is forever pulling all the Covers his way.

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Minna Antrim (1861-1950) American epigrammatist, writer
Don’ts for Bachelors and Old Maids (1908)
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A thief can rifle any till,
A fire with ash your home can fill,
A creditor calls in your debt.
Bad harvest does your farm upset,
An impish mistress robs your dwelling,
Storm shatters ships with water swelling.
But gifts to friends your friendships save.
You keep thus always what you gave.

[Callidus effracta nummos fur auferet arca,
Prosternet patrios impia flamma lares:
Debitor usuram pariter sortemque negabit,
Non reddet sterilis semina iacta seges:
Dispensatorem fallax spoliabit amica,
Mercibus extructas obruet unda rates.
Extra fortunam est, quidquid donatur amicis:
Quas dederis, solas semper habebis opes.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 42 (5.42) [tr. Wills (2007)]
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(Source(Latin)). Alternate translations:

Some felon-hand may steal thy gold away;
Or flames destructive on thy mansion prey.
The fraudful debtor may thy loan deny;
Or blasted fields no more their fruits supply.
The am'rous steward to adorn his dear,
With spoils may deck her from thy plunder'd year.
Thy freighted vessels, ere the port they gain,
O'erwhelm'd by storms may sink beneath the main:
But what thou giv'st a friend for friendship's sake,
Is the sole wealth which fortune n'er can take.
[tr. Melmoth (c. 1750)]

Thieves may break locks, and with your cash retire;
Your ancient seat may be consumed by fire;
Debtors refuse to pay you what they owe;
Or your ungrateful field the seed you sow;
You may be plundered by a jilting whore;
Your ships may sink at sea with all their store:
Who gives to friends, so much from Fate secures;
That is the only wealth for ever yours.
[tr. Hay (1755), ep. 43]

The thief shall burst they box, and slyly go:
The impious flame shall lay thy Lares low.
Thy dettor shall deny both use and sum:
They seed deposited may never come.
A faithless female shall they steward spoil:
They ships are swallow'd, while thy billow boil.
Whate'er is bountied, quit vain fortune's road:
Thine is alone the wealth thou has bestow'd.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 5, ep. 82]

A crafty thief may purloin money from a chest;
an impious flame may destroy paternal Lares;
a debtor may deny both principal and interest;
land may not yield crops in return for the seed scattered upon it;
frauds may be practices on a steward entrusted with your household purse;
the sea may overwhelm ships laden with merchandise.
Whatever is given to friends is beyond the reach of Fortune;
the wealth you have bestowed is the only wealth you can keep.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, ep. 77]

A cunning thief may burst open your coffers, and steal your coin;
an impious fire may lay waste your ancestral home;
your debtor may refuse you both principal and interest;
your corn-field may prove barren, and not repay the seed you have scattered upon it;
a crafty mistress may rob your steward;
the waves may engulf your ships laden with merchandise.
But what is bestowed on your friends is beyond the reach of fortune;
the riches you give away are the only riches you will possess for ever.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

A present to a friend's beyond the reach of fortune:
That wealth alone you always will possess
Which you have given away.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

A cunning thief will break your money-box and carry off your coin,
cruel fire will lay low your ancestral home;
your debtor will repudiate interest alike and principal,
your sterile crop will not return you the seed you have sown;
a false mistress will despoil your treasurer,
the wave will overwhelm your ships stored with merchandise.
Beyond Fortune's power is any gift made to your friends;
only wealth bestowed will you possess always.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Some thief may steal your wealth away,
Although by massive walls surrounded;
Or ruthless fire in ashes lay
The ancient home your fathers founded;
A debtor may withhold your dues,
Deny perhaps a debt is owing,
Or sullen ploughlands may refuse
To yield a harvest to your sowing.
A cunning trollop of the town
May make your agent rob his master,
Or waters of the ocean drown
Your goods and ship in one disaster.
But give to friends whate'er you may,
'Tis safe from fortune's worst endeavor:
The riches that you give away,
These only shall be yours for ever.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Some cunning burglar will abstract your plate,
A godless fire your roof will devastate,
A debtor steal both interest and loan,
A barren field will turn your seed to stone.
A wily wench will strip your steward bare,
The greedy sea engulf your galleon's ware.
Give to a friend and fortune is checkmated;
Such wealth will ever as your own be rated.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #247]

A cunning thief may rob your money-chest,
And cruel fire lay low an ancient home;
Debtors may keep both loan and interest;
Good seed may fruitless rot in barren loam.
A guileful mistress may your agent cheat,
And waves engulf your laden argosies;
But boons to friends can fortune's slings defeat:
The wealth you give away will never cease.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

A cunning thief will break open your coffer and carry off your money, ruthless fire will lay low your family horne, your debtor will repudiate interest and principal alike, your barren fields will not return the scattered seed, a tricky mistress will rob your steward, the wave ,will overwhelm your ships piled high with merchandise: hut whatever is given to friends is beyond the grasp of Fortune. Only the wealth you give away will always be yours.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Deft thieves can break your locks and carry off your savings,
fire consume your home,
debtors default on principal and interest,
failed crops return not even the seed you'd sown,
cheating women run up your charge accounts,
storm overwhelm ships freighted with all your goods.
Fortune can't take away what you give your friends:
that wealth stays yours forever.
[tr. Powell (c. 2000)]

The only wealth that's yours forever
is the wealth you give away.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "Forever"]

Sly thieves will smash your coffer and steal your cash;
impious flames will wreck your family home;
your debtor won't repay your loan or interest;
your barren fields will yield less than you've sown;
a crafty mistress will despoil your steward;
a wave will swamp your ships piled high with stores.
But what you give to friends is safe from Fortune:
only the wealth you give away is yours.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Savings -- the cunning thief will crack your safe and steal them;
ancestral home -- the fires don't care, they'll trash it;
the guy who owes you money -- won't pay the interest, won't pay at all.
Your field -- it's barren, sow seed and you'll get no return;
your girlfriend -- she'll con your accountant and leave you penniless;
your shipping line -- the waves will swamp your stacks of cargo.
But what you give to friends is out of fortune's reach.
The wealth you give away is the only wealth you'll never lose.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

 
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It is not pointless to acquire wealth but it is more evil than anything to get it from injustice.

[Χρήματα πορίζειν μὲν οὐκ ἀχρεῖον, ἐξ ἀδικίης δὲ πάντων κάκιον.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 78 (Diels) [tr. @sententiq (2018)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Diels citation "78. (74 N.) DEMOKRATES. 43."; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium 4, 31, 21. Bakewell lists this under "The Golden Sayings of Democritus." Freeman notes this as one of the Gnômae, from a collection called "Maxims of Democratês," but because Stobaeus quotes many of these as "Maxims of Democritus," they are generally attributed to the latter. Alternate translations:

  • "Making money is not without its value, but nothing is baser than to make it by wrong-doing." [tr. Bakewell (1907)]
  • "To make money is not without use, but if it comes from wrong-doing, nothing is worse." [tr. Freeman (1948)]
 
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For my part, I prefer a man without money to money without a man.

[Ego vero, malo virum, qui pecunia egeat, quam pecuniam, quae viro.]

Themistocles (c. 524-459 BC) Athenian politician and general
Quoted in Cicero, De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 2, ch. 20 / sec. 71 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

Original Latin (of Cicero). When asked whether he would choose for his daughter a poor but honest husband or a wealthy but disreputable one.

Alternate translations:

  • "I had rather have a man without an estate, than to have an estate without a man." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "I would rather have a man without money, than money without a man." [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "I certainly would rather she married a man without money, than money without a man." [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
  • "I, indeed, prefer the man who lacks money to the money that lacks a man." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
The comment is also recorded in Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Themistocles," ch. 18, sec. 5 [tr. Dryden (1653), rev. Clough (1859)]:

Of two who made love to his daughter, he preferred the man of worth to the one who was rich, saying he desired a man without riches, rather than riches without a man.

Original Greek: τῶν δὲ μνωμένων αὐτοῦ τὴν θυγατέρα τὸν ἐπιεικῆ τοῦ πλουσίου προκρίνας ἔφη ζητεῖν ἄνδρα χρημάτων δεόμενον μᾶλλον ἢ χρήματα ἀνδρός.

Alternate translations:

  • "When two men paid their addresses to his daughter, he chose the more agreeable instead of the richer of the two, saying that he preferred a man without money to money without a man." [tr. Stewart/Long (1894)]
  • "Of two suitors for his daughter's hand, he chose the likely man in preference to the rich man, saying that he wanted a man without money rather than money without a man." [tr. Perrin (1914)]
 
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If all men were rich, all men would be poor.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Noteook (1935 ed) [ed. Paine]
    (Source)
 
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Our political system has been thoroughly corrupted, and by the usual suspect — money, what else? The corruption is open, obscene, and unmistakable. The way campaigns are financed is a system of legalized bribery. We have a government of special interests, by special interests, and for special interests. And that will not change until we change the way campaigns are financed.

Molly Ivins (1944-2007) American writer, political columnist [Mary Tyler Ivins]
You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You, Introduction (1998)
    (Source)
 
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The ability of the rich and their acolytes to see social virtue in what serves their interest and convenience and to depict as ridiculous or foolish what does not was never better manifested than in their support of gold and their condemnation of paper money.

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) Canadian-American economist, diplomat, author
Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went, ch. 9 (1975)
    (Source)
 
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The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930) American economist and political commentator
“Student Loans,” Is Reality Optional? (1993)
    (Source)
 
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Hence the lust for money first, then for power, grew upon them; these were, I may say, the root of all evils. For avarice destroyed honour, integrity, and all the other noble qualities; taught in their place insolence, cruelty, to neglect the gods, to set a price on everything. Ambition drove many men to become false; to have one thought locked in the breast, another ready on the tongue; to value friendships and enmities not on their merits but by the standard of self-interest, and to show a good front rather than a good heart. At first these vices grew slowly, from time to time they were punished; finally, when the disease had spread like a deadly plague, the state was changed and a government second to none in equity and excellence became cruel and intolerable.

[Igitur primo imperi, deinde pecuniae cupido crevit: ea quasi materies omnium malorum fuere. Namque avaritia fidem, probitatem ceterasque artis bonas subvortit; pro his superbiam, crudelitatem, deos neglegere, omnia venalia habere edocuit. Ambitio multos mortalis falsos fieri subegit, aliud clausum in pectore, aliud in lingua promptum habere, amicitias inimicitiasque non ex re, sed ex commodo aestumare magisque voltum quam ingenium bonum habere. Haec primo paulatim crescere, interdum vindicari; post, ubi contagio quasi pestilentia invasit, civitas inmutata, imperium ex iustissumo atque optumo crudele intolerandumque factum.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Catiline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 10, sent. 3-6 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
    (Source)

Discussing the corruption of Rome in the years after the final defeat of Carthage.

Alt. trans.:
"A love of money, and a lust for power, took possession of every mind. These hateful passions were the source of innumerable evils. Good faith, integrity, and every virtuous principle, gave way to avarice; and in the room of moral honesty, pride, cruelty, and contempt of the gods succeeded. Corruption and venality were introduced; and everything had its price. Such were the effects of avarice. Ambition was followed by an equal train of evils; it taught men to be false and deceitful; to think one thing, and to say another; to make friendship or enmity a mere traffic for private advantage, and to set the features to a semblance of virtue, while malignity lay lurking in the heart. But at first these vices sapped their way by slow degrees, and were often checked in their progress; but spreading at length like an epidemic contagious, morals and the liberal arts went to ruin; and the government, which was before a model of justice, became the most profligate and oppressive." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

"First a love of money possessed their minds; then a passion for power; and these were the seeds of all the evils that followed. For avarice rooted out faith, probity, and every worthy principle; and, in their stead, substituted insolence, inhumanity, contempt of the gods, and a mercenary spirit. Ambition obliged many to be deceitful; to belie with their tongues the sentiments of their hearts; to value friendship and enmity, not according to their real worth, but as they conduced to interest; and to have a specious countenance, rather than an honest heart. These corruptions at first grew by degrees, and were sometimes checked by correction. At last, the infection spreading like a plague, the state was entirely changed, and the government, from being the most righteous and equitable, became cruel and insupportable." [tr. Rose (1831)]

"Therefore at first the love of money, then that of power increased. These things became as it were the foundation of all evils. For avarice overthrew faith, honesty, and all the other good acts; and instead of them it taught men pride, cruelty, to neglect the gods, and to consider everything venal. Ambition forced many men to become false, to have one thing hidden in their hearts, another ready on their tongue, to value friendships and enmities, not accordingly to reality, but interest, and rather to have a good appearance than a good disposition. These things at first began to increase by degrees, sometimes to be punished. Afterwards when the infection swept on like a pestilence, the state was changed, the government from the most just and best, became cruel and intolerable." [Source (1841)]

"At first the love of money, and then that of power, began to prevail, and these became, as it were, the sources of every evil. For avarice subverted honesty, integrity, and other honorable principles, and, in their stead, inculcated pride, inhumanity, contempt of religion, and general venality. Ambition prompted many to become deceitful; to keep one thing concealed in the breast, and another ready on the tongue; to estimate friendships and enmities, not by their worth, but according to interest; and to carry rather a specious countenance than an honest heart. These vices at first advanced but slowly, and were sometimes restrained by correction; but afterwards, when their infection had spread like a pestilence, the state was entirely changed, and the government, from being the most equitable and praiseworthy, became rapacious and insupportable." [tr. Watson (1867)]

"At first the lust of money increased, then that of power, and these, it may be said, were the sources of every evil. Avarice subverted loyalty, uprightness, and every other good quality, and in their stead taught men to be proud and cruel, to neglect the gods, and to hold all things venal. Ambition compelled many to become deceitful; they had one thought buried in their breast, another ready on their tongue; their friendships and enmities they valued not at their real worth, but at the advantage they could bring, and they maintained the look rather than the nature of honest men. These evils at first grew gradually, and were occasionally punished; later, when the contagion advanced like some plague, the state was revolutionized, and the government, from being one of the justest and best, became cruel and unbearable." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

"Hence it was the desire for money first of all, and then for empire, which grew; and these factors were the kindling (so to speak) of every wickedness. For avarice undermined trust, probity, and all other good qualities; instead it taught men haughtiness, cruelty, to neglect the gods, to regard everything as for sale. Ambition reduced many mortals to becoming false, having one sentiment shut away in the heart and another ready on the tongue, assessing friendships and antagonisms in terms not of reality but of advantage, and having a good demeanour rather than a good disposition. At first these things grew gradually; sometimes they were punished; but after, when the contamination had attacked like a plague, the community changed and the exercise of command, from being the best and most just, became cruel and intolerable." [tr. Woodman (2007)]

"At first the desire of power, then the desire of money increased; these were effectively the material of all evils, because avarice overturned faith, probity, and all other noble arts; in their place, it taught men to be arrogant and cruel, to neglect the gods, and to consider all things for sale. Ambition compelled many men to become liars; to hold one thing hidden in the heart, and the opposite thing at the tip of one’s tongue; to judge friends and enemies not in objective terms, but by reference to personal gain; and finally, to make a good appearance rather than to have a good mind. As these vices first began to increase, they were occasionally punished; but afterward, once the contagion had spread like a plague, the state as a whole was altered, and the government, once the noblest and most just, was made cruel and intolerable." [tr. @sententiq (2017)]

That it is the nature of ambition, to make men liars and cheaters; to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths; to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of good will. [tr. Cowley? (17th C)]
 
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Perhaps indeed the possession of wealth is constantly distressing,

But I should be quite willing to assume every curse of wealth if I could at the same time assume every blessing.

The only incurable troubles of the rich are the troubles that money can’t cure,

Which is a kind of trouble that is even more troublesome if you are poor.

Certainly there are lots of things in life that money won’t buy, but it’s very funny —

Have you ever tried to buy them without money?

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“The Terrible People,” New Yorker (11 Feb 1933)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Many Long Years Ago (1945).
 
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There are more important things than money — the only trouble is they all cost money.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Louis A. Safian, The Book of Updated Proverbs, ch. 7 (1967)
 
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Money helps, though not so much as you think when you don’t have it.

Louise Erdrich (b. 1954) American author, poet
“Insulation,” The Bingo Palace (1994)
 
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Marrying for money iz a meaner way tew git it than counterfiting.

[Marrying for money is a meaner way to get it than counterfeiting.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Puddin and Milk” (1874)
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The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyment and realities of life — will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,” Nation and Athenaeum (11 and 18 Oct 1930)
    (Source)

Originally a society talk in 1920, expanded to a lecture given in Madrid (Jun 1930). Reprinted in Essays in Persuasion, Part 5, ch. 2 (1931).
 
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Making money ain’t nothing exciting to me. … You might be able to buy a little better booze than some wino on the corner. But you get sick just like the next cat, and when you die you’re just as graveyard dead as he is.

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong (1900-1971) American musician
Ebony (Nov 1964)
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I took such pains not to keep my money in the house, but to put it out of the reach of burglars by buying stock, and had no guess that I was putting it into the hands of these very burglars now grown wiser and standing dressed as Railway Directors.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1857)
    (Source)
 
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I believe you are your work. Don’t trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That’s a rotten bargain.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
(Attributed)
 
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‘Tis a hard task not to surrender morality for riches.

[Ardua res haec est opibus non tradere mores.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 11, epigram 5 (11.5) [tr. in Harbottle (1897)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • It is an arduous task to preserve morality from the corruption of riches. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • 'Tis rare, when riches cannot taint the mind. [tr. Anon. (1695)]
  • 'Tis a hard task this, not to sacrifice manners to wealth. [tr. Ker (1919)]
  • It is a hard business, not to compromise morals for riches. [tr. Nisbet (2015)]
 
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You can buy a man’s time; you can buy a man’s physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm; you cannot buy initiative; you cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds and souls. You have to earn those things.

Clarence Francis (1888-1985) American business executive, food industry consultant
“The Causes of Industrial Peace,” speech, National Association of Manufacturers (4 Dec 1947)
    (Source)

Sometimes titled "Philosophy of Management".
 
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The trail of the serpent reaches into all the lucrative professions and practices of man, Each has its own wrongs. Each finds a tender and very intelligent conscience a disqualification for success. Each requires of the practitioner a certain shutting of the eyes, a certain dapperness and compliance, an acceptance of customs, a sequestration from the sentiments of generosity and love, a compromise of private opinion and lofty integrity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Man the Reformer,” lecture, Boston (1841-01-25)
    (Source)
 
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Money is said to be power, which is, in some cases, true; and the same may be said of knowledge; but superior sobriety, industry and activity, are a still more certain source of power; for without these, knowledge is of little use; and, as to the power which money gives, it is that of brute force, it is the power of the bludgeon and the bayonet, and of the bribed press, tongue and pen.

William Cobbett (1763-1835) English politician, agriculturist, journalist, pamphleteer
Advice to Young Men, Letter 1, #40 (1829)
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The art of living easily as to money, is to pitch your scale of living one degree below your means.

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
Notes from Life, “Of Money” (1853)
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She ate her trifle, reflecting that grinding poverty, though loathsome while one is in it, has the advantage of making one enjoy money in a way denied to the rich-from-birth.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
Flying Too High, ch. 2 (1990)
    (Source)
 
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“Rich people show their appreciation through favors,” I said. “When everyone you know has more money than they know what to do with, money stops being a useful transactional tool. So instead you offer favors. Deals. Quid pro quos. Things that involve personal involvement rather than money. Because when you’re that rich, your personal time is your limiting factor.”

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
Lock In (2014)
 
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People say law, but they mean wealth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1841)
    (Source)
 
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When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.

But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” (1930)
 
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By fixing men’s minds, not upon the discharge of social obligations, which restricts their energy, because it defines the goal to which it should be directed, but upon the exercise of the right to pursue their own self-interest, it offers unlimited scope for the acquisition of riches, and therefore gives free play to one of the most powerful of human instincts. To the strong it promises unfettered freedom for the exercise of their strength; to the weak the hope that they too one day may be strong. Before the eyes of both it suspends a golden prize, which not all can attain, but for which each may strive, the enchanting vision of infinite expansion. It assures men that there are no ends other than their ends, no law other than their desires, no limit other than that which they think advisable. Thus it makes the individual the center of his own universe, and dissolves moral principles into a choice of expediences.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 3 “The Acquisitive Society” (1920)
    (Source)
 
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Experienced men of the world know very well that it is best to pay scot and lot as they go along, and that a man often pays dear for a small frugality.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Compensation,” Essays: First Series (1841)
    (Source)
 
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Money is that dear thing which
if you’re not careful, you can squander
your whole life thinking of …

salter-money-is-that-dear-thing-wist_info-quote

Mary Jo Salter (b. 1954) American poet, editor, academic
“A Benediction,” part 6, ll. 1-3 (1994)
 
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The old saying holds. Owe your banker £1000 and you are at his mercy; owe him £1 million and the position is reversed.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III” (15 May 1945)

Unpublished memo distributed to the British Cabinet. Variant: "If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has."
 
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Rich people show their appreciation through favors. When everyone you know has more money than they know what to do with, money stops being a useful transactional tool. So instead you offer favors. Deals. Quid pro quos. Things that involve personal involvement rather than money. Because when you’re that rich, your personal time is your limiting factor.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
Lock In (2014)
 
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This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Preface (1979)
 
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Money dishonestly acquired is never worth its cost, while a good conscience never costs as much as it is worth.

Jean-Antoine Petit-Senn (1792-1870) French-Swiss poet
Maxims and Ethical Sentences
 
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Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Riches,” Essays, No. 34 (1625)
    (Source)
 
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I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue; the Roman word is better, “impedimenta;” for as the baggage is to an army, so is riches to virtue; it cannot be spared nor left behind, but it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory.

Bacon - loseth the victory - wist_info quote

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Riches,” Essays, No. 34 (1625)
    (Source)
 
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To have money is a feare, not to have it a griefe.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Jacula Prudentum (1640)
 
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“Money does not bring happiness” — only the wherewithal, perhaps, to endure its absence.

Ehrenreich - money happiness - wist_info quote

Barbara Ehrenreich (b. 1941) American feminist, journalist, political activist
Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class, ch. 6 (1990)
 
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SYDNEY: You don’t seem to realize that a poor person who is unhappy is in a better position than a rich person who is unhappy. Because the poor person has hope. He thinks money would help.

Jean Kerr (1922-2003) American author and playwright [b. Bridget Jean Collins]
Poor Richard, Act 1 (1965)
 
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Money can’t buy you friends, but you get a better class of enemy.

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan (1918-2002) Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, actor
(Attributed)
 
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Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan (1918-2002) Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, actor
(Attributed)
 
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Managers who don’t know how to measure what they want settle for wanting what they can measure. For example, those who want a high quality of work life but don’t know how to measure it, often settle for wanting a high standard of living because they can measure it.

Russell L. Ackoff (1919-2009) American organizational theorist, consultant, management scientist
A little book of f-laws: 13 common sins of management (2006)
 
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