Quotations about   wealth

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Where some possess much, and the others nothing, there may arise an extreme democracy, or a pure oligarchy; or a tyranny may grow out of either extreme.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 4, ch. 11 / 1296a.1-3 [tr. Jowett (1885)]
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Alternate translations:

  • "When some possess too much, and others nothing at all, the government must either be in the hands of the meanest rabble or else a pure oligarchy; or, from the excesses of both, a tyranny." [tr. Ellis (1912)]
  • "Where some own a very great deal of property and others none there comes about either an extreme democracy or an unmixed oligarchy, or a tyranny may result from both of the two extremes." [tr. Rackham (1932)]
  • "Where some possess very many things and others nothing, either rule of the people in its extreme form must come into being, or unmixed oligarchy, or -- as a result of both of these excesses -- tyranny." [tr. Reeve (2007)]
  • "Where some people are very wealthy and others have nothing, the result will be either extreme democracy or absolute oligarchy, or despotism will come from either of those excesses."
Added on 19-Feb-21 | Last updated 19-Feb-21
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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)
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Added on 12-Jan-21 | Last updated 12-Jan-21
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Why, pray, should I speak of things which are incredible except to those who have seen them, that a host of private men have levelled mountains and built upon the seas? To such men their riches seem to me to have been but a plaything; for while they might have enjoyed them honourably, they made haste to squander them shamefully. Nay more, the passion which arose for lewdness, gluttony, and the other attendants of luxury was equally strong; men played the woman, women offered their chastity for sale; to gratify their palates they scoured land and sea; they slept before they needed sleep; they did not await the coming of hunger or thirst, of cold or of weariness, but all these things their self-indulgence anticipated.

[Nam quid ea memorem, quae nisi eis qui videre nemini credibilia sunt, a privatis compluribus subvorsos montis, maria constrata esse? Quibus mihi videntur ludibrio fuisse divitiae; quippe quas honeste habere licebat, abuti per turpitudinem properabant. Sed lubido stupri, ganeae ceterique cultus non minor incesserat; viri muliebria pati, mulieres pudicitiam in propatulo habere; vescendi causa terra marique omnia exquirere, dormire prius quam somni cupido esset, non famem aut sitim neque frigus neque lassitudinem opperiri sed omnia luxu antecapere.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 13, sent. 1-3 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
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Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

  • "Need I mention, what to all but eye-witnesses would seem incredible? whole mountains levelled to the valley by the expense and labour of individuals, and even the seas covered with magnificent structures! To such men riches seem to be a burden: what they might enjoy with credit and advantage to themselves, they seem in eager haste to squander away in idle ostentation. To these vices that conspired against the commonwealth, many others may be added, such as prostitution, convivial debauchery, and all kinds of licentious pleasure. The men unsexed themselves, and the women made their persons venal. For the pleasures of the table, sea and land were ransacked; the regular returns of thirst and hunger were anticipated; the hour of sleep was left to a price and accident; cold was a sensation not to be endured by delicate habits; luxury was the business of life, and by that every thing was governed." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

  • "It is needless to recount other things, which none but those who saw them will believe; as the levelling of mountains by private citizens, and even covering the sea itself with fine edifices. These men appear to me to have sported with their riches, since they lavished them in the most shameful manner, instead of enjoying them with honour. Nor were they less addicted to all manner of extravagant gratifications: men and women laid aside all regard to chastity. To procure dainties for their tables, sea and land were ransacked. They indulged in sleep before nature craved it; the returns of hunger and thirst were anticipated with luxury: and cold and fatigue were never so much as felt." [tr. Rose (1831)]

  • "For why should I relate those things which are credible to no one except to those who have seen them -- that mountains have been levelled, seas built over by many private persons, whose riches appear to me to have been a jest, since those which they might have used honourably, they hastened to abuse disgracefully? But no less a desire of wantoning, gluttony, and other fashion had come on, women exhibited their shame in the open air, for the sake of feasting they ransacked every place by sea and land, and slept before there was any desire of sleep, they waited not for hunger nor thirst, nor cold nor fatigue, but anticipated all these things through their luxury." [Source (1841)]

  • "For why should I mention those displays of extravagance, which can be believed by none but those who have seen them; as that mountains have been leveled, and seas covered with edifices, by many private citizens; men whom I consider to have made a sport of their wealth, since they were impatient to squander disreputably what they might have enjoyed with honor. But the love of irregular gratification, open debauchery, and all kinds of luxury, had spread abroad with no less force. Men forgot their sex; women threw off all the restraints of modesty. To gratify appetite, they sought for every kind of production by land and by sea; they slept before there was any inclination for sleep; they no longer waited to feel hunger, thirst, cold, or fatigue, but anticipated them all by luxurious indulgence." [tr. Watson (1867)]

  • "Why should I tell of things which no one who has not seen them could believe, of how often private individuals have levelled mountains and built over seas? Such men seem to me to have trifled with their riches in the haste with which they have ignobly abused what they might honourably have enjoyed. But the passion for defilement, gluttony, and all other kinds of indulgence, had kept pace with that for wealth. Each sex alike trampled on their modesty. Sea and land were ransacked to supply the table. Men went to trest before the felt a desire for sleep; they did not wait for hunger or thirst, cold, or weariness, but anticipated them all by luxurious expedients." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

  • "Why should I recall that numerous private individuals undermined mountains and paved over the seas -- things that are credible to no one except those who have seen them? To such men, it seems to me, their riches were a plaything: when they could have held them with honour, they hurried to misuse them disgracefully. But the lust which had arisen for illicit sex, gluttony and other refinements was no less: men took the passive role of women, women made their chastity openly available; everywhere, by land and by sea, was ransacked for the sake of feeding; they slept before there could be any desire for slumber: they did not wait for hunger or thirst nor for cold nor tiredness, but in their luxuriousness anticipated them all." [tr. Woodman (2007)]

Added on 8-Dec-20 | Last updated 8-Dec-20
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More quotes by Sallust

As soon as riches came to be held in honour, when glory, dominion, and power followed in their train, virtue began to lose its lustre, poverty to be considered a disgrace, blamelessness to be termed malevolence. Therefore as the result of riches, luxury and greed, united with insolence, took possession of our young manhood. They pillaged, squandered; set little value on their own, coveted the goods of others; they disregarded modesty, chastity, everything human and divine; in short, they were utterly thoughtless and reckless.

[Postquam divitiae honori esse coepere et eas gloria, imperium, potentia sequebatur, hebescere virtus, paupertas probro haberi, innocentia pro malivolentia duci coepit. Igitur ex divitiis iuventutem luxuria atque avaritia cum superbia invasere; rapere, consumere, sua parvi pendere, aliena cupere, pudorem, pudicitiam, divina atque humana promiscua, nihil pensi neque moderati habere.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 12, sent. 1-2 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
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Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "Riches became the epidemic passion; and where honours, imperial sway, and power, followed in their train, virtue lost her influence, poverty was deemed the meanest disgrace, and innocence was thought to be no better than a mark for malignity of heart. In this manner riches engendered luxury, avarice, and pride; and by those vices the Roman youth were enslaved. Rapacity and profusion went on increasing; regardless of their own property, and eager to seize that of their neighbours, all rushed forward without shame or remorse, confounding every thing sacred and profane, and scorning the restraint of moderation and justice." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

  • "When riches began to be held in high esteem, and attended with glory, honour, and power, virtue languished, poverty was deemed a reproach, and innocence passed for ill-nature. And thus luxury, avarice, and pride, all springing from riches, enslaved the Roman youth; they wantoned in rapine and prodigality; undervalued their own, and coveted what belonged to others; trampled on modesty, friendship, and continence; confounded things divine and human; and threw off all manner of consideration and restraint." [tr. Rose (1831)]

  • "After that riches began to be an honour and glory, and command and power followed them, virtue began to languish, poverty to be accounted matter of reproach, and innocence to be considered as malignity. Therefore from riches, luxury and avarice with pride came in upon our youth. They ravaged and wasted every thing, their own property they valued at a trifle, that of other persons they coveted, and had not the least care for, or moderation in, shame, modesty, sacred or profane things, which were all the same to them." [Source (1841)]

  • "When wealth was once considered an honor, and glory, authority, and power attended on it, virtue lost her influence, poverty was thought a disgrace, and a life of innocence was regarded as a life of ill-nature. From the influence of riches, accordingly, luxury, avarice, and pride prevailed among the youth; they grew at once rapacious and prodigal; they undervalued what was their own, and coveted what was another’s; they set at naught modesty and continence; they lost all distinction between sacred and profane, and threw off all consideration and self-restraint." [tr. Watson (1867)]

  • "Riches became a means of distinction and glory, power and influence followed their possession. As a result the edge of virtue was dulled, poverty was accounted a disgrace, and uprightness a kind of ill-nature. Riches made the youth prey to luxury, avarice, and pride: at once grasping and prodigal, they valued lightly their own property, while the coveted that of others; all modesty and purity, alike things human and things divine, everything, in short, was despised and disregarded." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

  • "After riches began to be a source of honour and to be attended by glory, command and power, prowess began to dull, poverty to be considered a disgrace and blamelessness to be regarded as malice. In the wake of riches, therefore, young men were attacked by luxury and avarice along with haughtiness; they seized, they squandered; they placed little weight on their own property and desired that of others; they considered propriety and unchastity, divine and human matters, as indistinguishable, and nothing as worth weight or restraint." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 1-Dec-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-20
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More quotes by Sallust

Avarice, on the other hand, implies a zeal for money, an object for which no philosopher ever yearned. Tainting the body and mind of the strong, it weakens them as by some deadly poison; it is always boundless, always insatiable; plenty and want alike fail to lessen it.

[Avaritia pecuniae studium habet, quam nemo sapiens concupivit; ea quasi venenis malis imbuta corpus animumque virilem effeminat, semper infinita, insatiabilis est, neque copia neque inopia minuitur.]

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. 3 [tr. Pollard (1882)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Avarice, on the other hand, aims at an accumulation of riches; a passion unknown in liberal minds. It may be called a compound of poisonous ingredeients; it has power to enervate the body, and debauch the best understanding; always unbounded; never satisfied; in plenty and in want equally craving and rapacious." [tr. Murphy (1807)]
  • "Avarice has money for its object, which no wise man ever coveted. This vice, as if impregnated with deadly poison, enervated both soul and body; is always boundless and insatiable; nor are its cravings lessened by plenty or want." [tr. Rose (1831)]
  • "Avarice has a longing for money, which no wise man ever desired. This passion, as if it were imbued with deadly poisons, enervates the body and mind of man. It is always boundless, insatiable, is neither diminished by plenty nor want." [Source (1841)]
  • "But avarice has merely money for its object, which no wise man has ever immoderately desired. It is a vice which, as if imbued with deadly poison, enervates whatever is manly in body or mind. It is always unbounded and insatiable, and is abated neither by abundance nor by want." [tr. Watson (1867)]
  • "Avarice implies a desire for money, which no wise man covets; steeped as it were with noxious poisons, it renders the most manly body and soul effeminate; it is ever unbounded and insatiable, nor can either plenty or want make it less." [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
  • "Avarice involves an enthusiasm for money (which no wise man has ever desired): as if saturated with a harmful poison, it feminizes the manly body and mind, knows neither limit nor surfeit, and lessened by neither sufficiency nor insufficiency." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 10-Nov-20 | Last updated 10-Nov-20
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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)
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Reprinted in Many Long Years Ago (1945).
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Most bankers dwell in marble halls,

Which they get to dwell in because they encourage deposits and discourage withdrawals,

And particularly because they all observe one rule which woe betides the banker who fails to heed it,

Which is you must never lend any money to anybody unless they don’t need it.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Bankers Are Just Like Anybody Else, Except Richer,” New Yorker (7 Dec 1935)
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Added on 25-Sep-20 | Last updated 25-Sep-20
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Objects close to the eye shut out much larger objects on the horizon; and splendors born only of the earth eclipse the stars. So a man sometimes covers up the entire disk of eternity with a dollar, and quenches transcendent glories with a little shining dust.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
Living Words (1860)
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Added on 11-Sep-20 | Last updated 11-Sep-20
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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)
Added on 17-Aug-20 | Last updated 17-Aug-20
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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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The miser iz a riddle. What he possesses he haint got, and what he leaves behind him he never had.

[The miser is a riddle. What he possesses he hasn’t got, and what he leaves behind him he never had.]

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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A rich man cannot enjoy a sound mind nor a sound body without exercise and abstinence; and yet these are truly the worst ingredients of poverty.

Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696-1782) Scottish jurist, agriculturalist, philosopher, writer
Introduction to the Art of Thinking, ch. 2 (1761)
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Added on 15-May-20 | Last updated 15-May-20
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Jesus Christ chose to be born of poor and humble parents, in a land remote from the centre of political or intellectual influence, and in the circle of labouring men. He chose to belong to the class of the respectable artisan, and most of the twelve Apostles came from the same social level. In His teaching He plainly associated blessedness with the lot of poverty, and extreme danger with the lot of wealth. All through the New Testament the assumption is that God is on the side of the poor against the rich. As Jowett once said, there is more in the New Testament against being rich, and in favour of being poor, than we like to recognise.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Bishop Gore and the Church of England,” Edinburgh Review (Jan 1908)
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Reprinted in Outspoken Essays: First Series (1911).
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Justice is indiscriminately due to all, without regard to numbers, wealth, or rank.

John Jay (1745-1829) American statesman, diplomat, abolitionist, politician, Chief Justice (1789-1795)
Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 US 1 (1794) [unanimous opinion]
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Added on 21-Apr-20 | Last updated 21-Apr-20
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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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We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Birth of a New Age,” speech, Alpha Phi Alpha banquet, Buffalo (11 Aug 1956)
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King used the same phrases, or variations of them, for different speeches and sermons, e.g., in "Desegregation and the Future" (15 Dec 1956), he used "Leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with justice. Leaders not in love with money, but in love with humanity."
Added on 24-Feb-20 | Last updated 24-Feb-20
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But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
1 John 3:17-18 [KJV]
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Alt. trans.:
  • [NRSV] "How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action."
  • [NIV] "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
  • [GNT] "If we are rich and see others in need, yet close our hearts against them, how can we claim that we love God? My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action."
  • [TJB] "If a man who was rich enough in this world’s goods saw that one of his brothers was in need, but closed his heart to him, how could the love of God be living in him? My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active."
Added on 24-Feb-20 | Last updated 24-Feb-20
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After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all — the trouble is, humans do have a knack for choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.

Joanne "Jo" Rowling (b. 1965) British novelist [writes as J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith]
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, ch. 17 [Dumbledore] (1997)
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The greatest foe to art is luxury, art cannot live in its atmosphere.

William Morris (1834-1896) British textile designer, writer, socialist activist
“The Beauty of Life,” lecture, Birmingham Society of Arts and School of Design (19 Feb 1880)
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Luxury has been railed at for two thousand years, in verse and in prose, and it has always been loved.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Philosophical Dictionary [Dictionnaire philosophique], “Luxury [Le Luxe],” sec. 2 (1764)

    Alt trans.:
  • "Luxury has been declaimed against for the space of two thousand years, both in verse and prose; and yet it has been always liked." [tr. Fleming (1905)]
  • "For these two thousand years past, luxury has been declaimed against, both in verse and prose: but still mankind has always delighted in it." [Source (1835)]
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In the affluent society no sharp distinction can be made between luxuries and necessaries.

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) Canadian-American economist, diplomat, author
The Affluent Society, ch. 21, sec. 4 (1998, 4th ed.)
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On sales taxes. Sometimes quoted (from other editions?) as "useful distinction."
Added on 14-Jan-20 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury.

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) English comic actor, film director, composer
My Autobiography, ch. 22 (1964)
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“Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure.”

“I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.”

“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer and social critic
A Christmas Carol, ch. 1 (1843)
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While we are poor, the necessarys ov life are the luxurys; after we git ritch, the luxurys are the necessarys.

[While we are poor, the necessaries of life are the luxuries; after we get rich, the luxuries are the necessaries.]

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, “Mollassis Kandy” (1874)
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Added on 9-Jun-19 | Last updated 9-Jun-19
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We’re like a rich father who wishes he knew how to give his son the hardships that made the father such a man.

Robert Frost (1874-1963) American poet
Comment, “Meet the Press” (22 Mar 1959)

When asked by Ernest Lindley whether American civilization had improved or declined in his lifetime. Often misquoted as "Americans are like a rich father who wishes he knew how to give his son the hardships that made him rich."
Added on 13-Mar-19 | Last updated 13-Mar-19
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In reality, the likelihood of reaching the pinnacle of capitalist society today is only marginally better than were the chances of being accepted into the French nobility four centuries ago, though at least an aristocratic age was franker, and therefore kinder, about the odds. It did not relentlessly play up the possibilities open to all, … and so, in turn, did not cruelly equate an ordinary life with a failed one.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, ch. 9 “Entrepreneurship” (2009)
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Added on 3-Jan-19 | Last updated 3-Jan-19
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Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none.

[Fortuna multis dat nimis, satis nulli.]  

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 10

Alt. trans.:
  • "Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "Fortune hath overmuch bestow'd on some; / But plenary content doth give to none." [tr. Fletcher]
  • "Fortune, some say, doth give too much to many; / And yet she never gave enough to any." [tr. Harrington]
  • "Fortune gives one enough, but some too much." [tr. Hay]
  • "Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 21-Nov-18 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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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 [tr. in Harbottle (1897)]
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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)]
Added on 14-Nov-18 | Last updated 14-Nov-18
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Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages; who says, “I will build myself a spacious house with large upper rooms,” and who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar, and painting it with vermilion.

Are you a king because you compete in cedar?

Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him.

He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well.

Is not this to know me? says the Lord.

But your eyes and heart are only on your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Jeremiah 22:13-17 (NRSV)
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Alt. trans.
  • KJV: "Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion. Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord. But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it."
  • GNT: "Doomed is the one who builds his house by injustice and enlarges it by dishonesty; who makes his people work for nothing and does not pay their wages. Doomed is the one who says, 'I will build myself a mansion with spacious rooms upstairs.' So he puts windows in his house, panels it with cedar, and paints it red. Does it make you a better king if you build houses of cedar, finer than those of others? Your father enjoyed a full life. He was always just and fair, and he prospered in everything he did. He gave the poor a fair trial, and all went well with him. That is what it means to know the Lord. But you can only see your selfish interests; you kill the innocent and violently oppress your people. The Lord has spoken."
Added on 26-Oct-18 | Last updated 26-Oct-18
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Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
On Tyranny, ch. 10 (2017)
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You confuse what’s important with what’s impressive.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
Maurice (w. 1914, pub. 1971)
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If poor you are, poor you will always be,
For wealth’s now given to none but to the rich.

[Semper eris pauper, si pauper es, Aemiliane;
Dantur opes nulli nunc, nisi divitibus.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, #81
    (Source)

In Thomas Harbottle, ed., The Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1897). Alt. trans.:
  • If you are poor now, Æmilianus, you will always be poor. / Riches are now given to none but the rich. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • If thou are poor, Æmilian, / Thou shalt be ever so, / For no man now his presents can / But on the rich bestow. [tr. Fletcher]
  • You want, Æmilianus, so you may; / Riches are given rich men, and none but they. [tr. Wright]
  • Poor once and poor for ever, Nat, I fear; / None but the rich get place and pension here. [tr. N. B. Halhed]
  • You will always be poor, if you are poor, Aemilianus. Wealth is given today t none savethe rich. [tr. Ker (1919)]
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Where Plenty smiles — alas! she smiles for few,
And those who taste not, yet behold her store,
Are as the slaves that dig the golden ore,
The wealth around them makes them doubly poor.

George Crabbe (1754-1832) English poet, writer, surgeon, clergyman
The Village, Book 1, line 136 (1783)
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Ability is a poor man’s wealth.

Matthew Wren (1585-1667) English clergyman, bishop, scholar
(Attributed)

First found in Day's Collacon (1884).
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Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
Commencement Address, Knox College, Galesburg, IL (4 Jun 2005)
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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)
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Man has three friends on whose company he relies. First, wealth — which goes with him only while good fortune lasts. Second, his relatives — they go only as far as the grave and leave him there. The third friend, his good deeds, go with him beyond the grave.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
(Attributed)

I could not find an actual citation for this quotation, but the story (the explanation of a parable, in which a man is summoned before a king, and while his dearest friend will not go with him, and his second best friend will only go to the palace gates, his least-loved friend goes with him before the throne) shows up with different translation in multiple sources:
  • The Talmud: SelectionsPart 5 "Civil and Criminal Laws -- the Holy Days" - "The Day of Atonement" [tr. Polano (1876)].
  • Isaac Aboav, Lamp of Light [Menorat Hamoar] [14th C], Fifth Lamp "Teshuvah," Sec. 2 [ch. 3]  in Leonard Kravitz and Kerry Olitzky, <i>Journey of the Soul: Traditional Sources on the</i> Teshuvah (1995).
  • Talmudic and Other Legends [tr., comp. Weiss (1888 ed.), "Man's Three Friends" (Pirke R. Eliezer).
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Any reasonable system of taxation should be based on the slogan of “Soak the Rich.”

Heywood Broun (1888-1939) American journalist, author
(Attributed)
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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)
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The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist
The Communist Manifesto (1848) [with Friedrich Engels]
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[Capitalism is] the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
(Attributed)

Attributed by Sir George Schuster, Christianity and Human Relations in Industry (1951). Frequently quoted, but no direct citation found. More information here.

Variations:
  • "... the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all."
  • "... the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."
  • "The great merit of the capitalist system, it has been said, is that it succeeds in using the nastiest motives of nasty people for the ultimate benefit of society." (written by E. A. G. Robinson, Monopoly (1941). (Robinson was a colleague of Keynes.)
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My father deals with millionaires and billionaires on a daily basis, the sort of people who have egos just this side (and sometimes way over the edge) of sociopathy. The sort of person who thinks he’s the apex predator wading through a universe of sheep.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
Lock In (2014)
Added on 24-Mar-17 | Last updated 24-Mar-17
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What has destroyed every previous civilization has been the tendency to the unequal distribution of wealth and power. This same tendency, operating with increasing force, is observable in our civilization to-day, showing itself in every progressive community, and with greater intensity the more progressive the community. Wages and interest tend constantly to fall, rent to rise, the rich to become very much richer, the poor to become more helpless and hopeless, and the middle class to be swept away.

Henry George (1839-1897) American economist
Progress and Poverty, “How Modern Civilization May Decline” (1879)
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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)
Added on 14-Mar-17 | Last updated 14-Mar-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.
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People say law, but they mean wealth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1841)
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It is not merely that the ownership of any substantial share in the national wealth is concentrated to-day in the hands of a few hundred thousand families, and that at the end of an age which began with an affirmation of the rights of property, proprietary rights are, in fact, far from being widely distributed. Nor is it merely that what makes property insecure to-day is not the arbitrary taxation of unconstitutional monarchies or the privileges of an idle noblesse, but the insatiable expansion and aggregation of property itself, which menaces with absorption all property less than the greatest, the small master, the little shopkeeper, the country bank, and has turned the mass of mankind into a proletariat working under the agents and for the profit of those who own.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 5 “Property and Creative Work” (1920)
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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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The exact measure of the progress of civilization is the degree in which the intelligence of the common mind has prevailed over wealth and brute force.

George Bancroft (1800-1891) American historian, statesman, education reformer
Speech, Adelphi Society, Liamstown College (Aug 1835)
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“Which of them shall be accounted greatest?” Let the churches stop trying to outstrip each other in the number of their adherents, the size of its sanctuary, the abundance of wealth. If we must compete let us compete to see which can move toward the greatest attainment of truth, the greatest service of the poor, and the greatest salvation of the soul and bodies of men. If the Church entered this kind of competition we can imagine what a better world this would be.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Cooperative Competition / Noble Competition,” sermon outline
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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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Convinced that character is all and circumstances nothing, [the Puritan] sees in the poverty of those who fall by the way, not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, ch. 4 (1926)
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Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) American lawyer, politician, US President (1925-29)
Foundations of the Republic (1926)
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You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a mother who read to me.

Strickland Gillilan (1869-1954) American poet and humorist
“The Reading Mother”
Added on 3-Nov-16 | Last updated 3-Nov-16
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Some men rob you with a six-gun,
Some with a fountain pen.

Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie (1912-1967) American singer-songwriter and musician
“Pretty Boy Floyd the Outlaw” (1961)
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