Quotations about   prosperity

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By virtue of exchange, one man’s prosperity is beneficial to all others.

Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) French philosopher, economist, politician
Harmonies of Political Economy, ch. 4, para. 110 (1850)
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Alternate translation: "In consequence of Exchange, the gain of each is the gain of all." [tr. Stirling]
Added on 1-Jul-21 | Last updated 1-Jul-21
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For friendship adds a brighter radiance to prosperity and lessens the burden of adversity by dividing and sharing it.

[Nam et secundas res splendidiores facit amicitia et adversas partiens communicansque leviores.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
“Laelius De Amicitia [Laelius on Friendship],” ch. 6 / sec. 22 (44 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
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Alternate translations:

  • "Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief." [tr. Addison (1711), Spectator, #68 (18 May 1711)]
  • "For prosperity, friendship renders more brilliant, and adversity more supportable, by dividing and communicating it." [tr. Edmonds (1871)]
  • "Such friendship at once enhances the lustre of prosperity, and by dividing and sharing adversity lessens its burden." [tr. Peabody (1887)]
  • "For friendship both makes favourable things more splendid and disasters lighter, by splitting and sharing them." [Source]
Added on 1-Mar-21 | Last updated 22-Mar-21
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In truth, prosperity tries the souls of even the wise; how then should men of depraved character like these make a moderate use of victory?

[Quippe secundae res sapientium animos fatigant, ne illi corruptis moribus victoriae temperarent.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 11, sent. 8 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "A series of prosperity is often too much even for the wisest and best disposed: that men corrupted should make a temperate use of their victory could not be expected." [tr. Murphy (1807)]
  • "For success unhinges the minds even of wise men; how then should they who were so depraved use their victory with moderation?" [tr. Rose (1831)]
  • "For success tries the minds of wise men, much less could they, when their morals were corrupted, use their victory with moderation." [Source (1841)]
  • "Success unsettles the principles even of the wise, and scarcely would those of debauched habits use victory with moderation." [tr. Watson (1867)]
  • "Since even the wise have their temper tried by prosperity, much less could men of this abandoned character use their success with moderation." [tr. Pollard (1882)]
  • "Successful situations overwhelm the minds even of the wise; still less wouild those men of corrupt morals moderate their victory." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 17-Nov-20 | Last updated 17-Nov-20
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As far as the advocacy of peace rests on material motives like economy and prosperity, it is the service of Mammon; and the bottom of the platform will drop out when Mammon thinks that war will pay better.

A. T. Mahan (1840-1914) American admiral, strategist, historian [Alfred Thayer Mahan]
(Attributed)
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Attributed in William Ralph Inge, "The Indictment against Christianity" (1917), Outspoken Essays, ch. 10 (1919).
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Less than a century ago, the laborer had no rights, little or no respect, and led a life which was socially submerged and barren. He was hired and fired by economic despots whose power over him decreed his life or death. […] American industry organized misery into sweatshops and proclaimed the right of capital to act without restraints and without conscience. […] The inspiring answer to this intolerable and dehumanizing existence was economic organization through trade unions. The worker became determined not to wait for charitable impulses to grow in his employer. He constructed the means by which fairer sharing of the fruits of his toil had to be given to him or the wheels of industry, which he alone turned, would halt and wealth for no one would be available.

This revolution within industry was fought bitterly by those who blindly believed their right to uncontrolled profits was a law of the universe, and that without the maintenance of the old order, catastrophe faced the nation. But history is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it by raising the living standards of millions. Labor miraculously created a market for industry, and lifted the whole nation to undreamed-of levels of production. Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Speech, AFL-CIO Convention, Miami (11 Dec 1961)
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Added on 10-Nov-17 | Last updated 10-Nov-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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What a country wants to make it richer is never consumption, but production. Where there is the latter, we may be sure that there is no want of the former. To produce, implies that the producer desires to consume; why else should he give himself useless labor? He may not wish to consume what he himself produces, but his motive for producing and selling is the desire to buy. Therefore, if the producers generally produce and sell more and more, they certainly also buy more and more.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
“The Consumer Theory of Prosperity” (1830)
Added on 27-Apr-16 | Last updated 27-Apr-16
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The history of the Jews also shows that oppression and persecution are far more efficacious in binding a nation together than community of interest and national prosperity. Increase of wealth divides rather than unites a people; but suffering shared in common binds it together with hoops of steel.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Patriotism,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1915)
Added on 18-Jan-16 | Last updated 18-Jan-16
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Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

Oprah Winfrey (b. 1954) American TV personality, actress
(Attributed)
Added on 19-Nov-15 | Last updated 19-Nov-15
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I hold it to be our duty to see that the wage worker, the small producer, the ordinary consumer, shall get their fair share of the benefit of business prosperity. But it either is or ought to be evident to everyone that business has to prosper before anybody can get any benefit from it.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Speech, Ohio Constitutional Convention (1 Feb 1912)
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If Heaven had looked upon riches to be a valuable thing, it would not have given them to such a scoundrel.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
Letter to Miss Vanhomrigh (12 Aug 1720)
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Added on 27-Aug-15 | Last updated 27-Aug-15
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The Stream of Life sometimes glides smoothly on, through flowry meadows and enamell’d planes. At other times it draggs a winding reluctant Course through offensive Boggs and dismal gloomy Swamps. The same road now leads us thro’ a spacious Country fraught with evry delightful object, Then plunges us at once, into miry Sloughs, or stops our passage with craggy and inaccessible mountains. The free roving Songster of the forest, now rambles unconfin’d, and hopps from Spray to Spray but the next hour perhaps he alights to pick the scattered Grain and is entangled in the Snare. The Ship, which, wafted by a favourable gale, sails prosperously upon the peaceful Surface, by a sudden Change of weather may be tossed by the Tempest, and driven by furious, opposite winds, upon rocks or quicksands. In short nothing in this world enjoys a constant Series of Joy and prosperity.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Journal (27 Mar 1756)
Added on 12-Aug-15 | Last updated 12-Aug-15
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Most of us have achieved levels of affluence and comfort un-thought of two generations ago. We’ve never had it so good, most of us. Nor have we ever complained so bitterly about our problems. The closed circle of materialism is clear to us now — aspirations become wants, wants become needs, and self-gratification becomes a bottomless pit. All around us we have seen success in the world’s terms become ultimate and desperate failure.

Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) American politician
Commencement Address, Iona College (3 Jun 1984)
Added on 15-Jun-15 | Last updated 15-Jun-15
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Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
1 Peter 3:3-4 [NIV]

Alt. trans.:

  • "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." [KJV]
  • "You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God's sight." [TEV]
  • "Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight." [NRSV]
Added on 24-Dec-14 | Last updated 24-Dec-14
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It is certain that great prosperity and worldly glory are no sure tokens of God’s love.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) English Puritan divine, writer
A Cabinet of Jewels
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The snow covers many a dunghill, so doth prosperity many a rotten heart.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) English Puritan divine, writer
Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (1652)
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While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 56 (24 Nov 2013)
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Added on 30-Jul-14 | Last updated 30-Jul-14
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It is not want, but rather abundance, that creates avarice.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, ch. 40 (1588)
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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)
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Few of us can stand prosperity. Another man’s, I mean.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 40, epigraph (1897)
Added on 18-Feb-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Adversity,” Essays, No. 5 (1625)
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The virtue of Prosperity is temperance; the virtue of Adversity is fortitude.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Adversity,” Essays, No. 5 (1625)
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He that swells in Prosperity will shrink in Adversity.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #2321 (1732)
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Added on 28-Jan-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Prosperity has damn’d more Souls, than all the Devils together.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #3963 (1732)
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No condition so low but may have Hopes; none so high but may have Fears.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #3555 (1732)
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Added on 3-Nov-10 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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O stranger, cease thy care;
Wise is the soul, but man is born to bear;
Jove weighs affairs of earth in dubious scales,
And the good suffers, while the bad prevails.
Bear, with a soul resign’d, the will of Jove;
Who breathes, must mourn: thy woes are from above.

[‘ξεῖν᾽, ἐπεὶ οὔτε κακῷ οὔτ᾽ ἄφρονι φωτὶ ἔοικας:
Ζεὺς δ᾽ αὐτὸς νέμει ὄλβον Ὀλύμπιος ἀνθρώποισιν,
ἐσθλοῖς ἠδὲ κακοῖσιν, ὅπως ἐθέλῃσιν, ἑκάστῳ:
καί που σοὶ τάδ᾽ ἔδωκε, σὲ δὲ χρὴ τετλάμεν ἔμπης.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 6, l. 187ff (c. 700 BC) [tr. Pope (1725), l. 227ff]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Stranger! I discern in thee
Nor sloth, nor folly, reigns; and yet I see
Th’ art poor and wretched. In which I conclude,
That industry nor wisdom make endued
Men with those gifts that make them best to th’ eye;
Jove only orders man’s felicity.
To good and bad his pleasure fashions still
The whole proportion of their good and ill.
And he, perhaps, hath form’d this plight in thee,
Of which thou must be patient, as he free.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

You seem to be a good man and discreet,
But Jove on good and bad such fortune lays,v Happy or otherwise, as he thinks meet;
And since distress is fallen to your share,
You must contented be to suffer it.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 178ff]

Since, stranger! neither base by birth thou seem’st,
Nor unintelligent, (but Jove, the King
Olympian, gives to good and bad alike
Prosperity according to his will,
And grief to thee, which thou must patient bear,)
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 233ff]

Stranger, who seemest neither vile nor vain, Zeus both to good and evil doth divide Wealth as he listeth. He perchance this pain Appointed; thou thy sorrow must stain. [tr. Worsley (1861), st. 25]
Sir guest! since thou no sorry wight dost seem;
And Zeus himself from Olympus deals out weal
To the good and band: -- to each as it pleaseth him:
And somehow he hath sent these things to thee;
So it becomes thee to endure them wholly.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Stranger, forasmuch as thou seemest no evil man nor foolish -- and it is Olympian Zeus himself that giveth weal to men, to the good and to the evil, to each one as he will, and this thy lot doubtless is of him, and so thou must in anywise endure it.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

O guest, forsooth thou seemest no fool, and no man of ill.
But Zeus the Olympian giveth to menfolk after his will,
To each, be he good, be he evil, his share of the happy day;
And these things shall be of his giving; so bear it as ye may.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Stranger, because you do not seem a common, senseless person, -- and Olympian Zeus himself distributes fortune to mankind and gives to high and low even as he wills to each; and this he gave to you, and you must bear it therefore.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Stranger, you appear to be a sensible, well-disposed person. There is no accounting for luck; Zeus gives prosperity to rich and poor just as he chooses, so you must take what he has seen fit to send you, and make the best of it.
[tr. Butler (1898), rev. Power/Nagy]

Stranger, since thou seemest to be neither an evil man nor a witless, and it is Zeus himself, the Olympian, that gives happy fortune to men, both to the good and the evil, to each man as he will; so to thee, I ween, he has given this lot, and thou must in any case endure it.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

Stranger -- for to me you seem no bad or thoughtless man -- it is Zeus himself who assigns bliss to men, to the good adn to the evil as he wills, to each his lot. Wherefore surely he gave you this unhappiness, and you must bear it.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

"Sir," said the white-armed Nausicaa, "your manners prove that you are no rascal and no fool; and as for these ordeals of yours, they must have been sent you by Olympian Zeus, who follows his own will in dispensing happiness to people whatever their merits. You have no choice but to endure."
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Stranger, there is no quirk or evil in you
that I can see. You know Zeus metes out fortune
to good and bad men as it pleases him.
Hardship he sent to you, and you must bear it.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

You, stranger, since you do not seem to be
mad or malicious, know that only he --
Olympian Zeus -- allots felicity
to men, to both the noble and the base,
just as he wills. To you he gave this fate
and you must suffer it -- in any case.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]

"Stranger," the white-armed princess answered staunchly,
"friend, you're hardly a wicked man, and no fool, I'd say --
it's Olympian Zeus himself who hands our fortunes out,
to each of us in turn, to the good and bad,
however Zeus prefers ...
He gave you pain, it seems. You simply have to bear it.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

"Stranger, you do not seem to be a bad man
Or a fool. Zeus himself, the Olympian god,
Sends happiness to good men and bad men both,
To each as he wills. To you he has given these troubles,
Which you have no choice but to bear.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 191ff]

Stranger, you do not strike me as either a rogue or a fool. It is Olympian Zeus himself who dispenses prosperity to men, to both good and bad, to each as he wishes; he must surely have sent you these troubles, and you must bear them as you may.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

Well, stranger, you seem a brave and clever man; you know that Zeus apportions happiness to people, to good and bad, each one as he decides. your troubles come from him, and you must bear them.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

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Learning is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. Improvement is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. But to survive, we must learn.

W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) American management consultant, educator
“Quality, Productivity, and Competitive Position” seminar (24-28 Feb 1986)
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Often paraphrased: "Learning is not compulsory. Neither is survival."
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Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) American lawyer, politician, US President (1925-29)
Speech, Boston (11 Jun 1928)
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