Quotes

“The most perfect political community must be amongst those who are in the middle rank, and those states are best instituted wherein these are a larger and more respectable part, if possible, than both the other; or, if that cannot be, at least than either of them separate.”

- Aristotle

“Our inequality materializes our upper class, vulgarizes our middle class, brutalizes our lower class.”

- Matthew Arnold, (1822-1888)


“And it also became clear that these conditions of inequality and historical injustice have given rise to a feeling of hate in the world – a deeply felt hate that cannot easily be overcome with a few good words.

- Ulrich Beck

“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

- Louis Brandeis

 

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” 

- Warren Buffet

 

“A line of Army convoy trucks filled with food, stretching to the moon and back. This is food taken from the poor by the wealthiest nation in the world.”

- Larry Brown, (after Congress cut $30 billion from nutritional programs, 1997


“There are only two families in the world, as my grandmother used to say: the haves and the have-nots.” (Sancho Panza)

- Miguel Cevantes

 

“And make no mistake, even for the best-off in society, profound inequality has a heavy economic price. It fuels the crime that is a burden on everyone, while the dependency and deprivation it creates limits the economy’s potential.”

- Gary Duncan, (Scotsman, February 15, 1999)


“The prince should try to prevent too great an inequality of wealth.”

- Erasmus, (Dutch scholar, 1465-1536)

 

“Increasing inequality in income distribution in this country has broader policy implications, and there is also the growing problem of perverse incentives that result from executives receiving grossly disproportionate compensation based on decisions they themselves take.”

“But it is also clear that left entirely untouched by public policy, the capitalist system will produce more inequality than is socially healthy or than is necessary for maximum efficiency.”

- Barney Frank

 

“The haves are on the march. With growing inequality, so grows their power. And so also diminish the voices of solidarity and mutual reinforcement, the voices of civil society, the voices of a democratic and egalitarian middle class.”

”As the economy develops as it has in the United States, you move more people into brackets where self-satisfaction is in some measure, normal, and where people are more and more inclined to the oldest tendency of the affluent, which is to say, ‘I made it, and so can anybody else,’ and to say that government and public health stand in the way of progress, to develop all sorts of theories which reward them and their well-being and, effectively, deny it to those who are still in need.”

“In a rich society, no one should be allowed to suffer from deprivation such as homelessness, starvation and illness. This ideal is essential, not simply as a matter of human good, but as the price we pay for a measure of domestic tranquillity.”

”Some economists think that if we have a growing economy, the problem of poverty will take care of itself. It doesn’t. People always fall through the cracks.”

-John Kenneth Galbraith, (Economist)


“I believe, with Theodore Roosevelt, Louis Brandeis, Herbert Hoover and scores of other wise observers in the early 1900s that it is not in the interest of this country to have large fortunes passed from generation to generation forming ever larger pools of money and accretion of power.”

- William Gates Sr. (Senate testimony, March 16, 2001)

 

“Income inequality is where the capitalist system is most vulnerable. You can’t have the capitalist system if an increasing number of people think it is unjust.”

- Alan Greenspan, (Mar. 13, 2007)

 

“I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on.”

- Thomas Jefferson, (Founding Father)

 

“(I)ncreasing income inequality is bad for the economy, bad for crime rates, bad for people’s working lives, bad for infrastructural development, and bad for health — in both the short and long term.”

-British Medical Journal, (1996 editorial)

 

“The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes.”

- John Maynard Keynes, (Economist, 1936)

 

“I can’t stand the pompous among us who complain about welfare. The biggest welfare recipients in the United States are the richest people.”

- Larry King, (1995)


“A State divided into a small number of rich and a large number of poor will always develop a government manipulated by the rich to protect the amenities represented by their property.”

- Harold Laski, (1930)

 

“If our civilization is destroyed, it will not be by barbarians from below. Our barbarians come from above.”

- Henry Demarest Lloyd, (1847-1903)


“Any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another.” (The Republic)

“The form of law which I propose would be as follows: In a state which is desirous of being saved from the greatest of all plagues — not faction, but rather distraction — there should exist among the citizens neither extreme poverty nor, again, excessive wealth, for both are productive of great evil . . . Now the legislator should determine what is to be the limit of poverty or of wealth.”

- Plato, (427-347 B.C.)

 

“Unlike the problem of racial inequality, which pierced the nation’s consciousness in the 1960s, the problem of widening economic inequality has not engendered a movement or produced leaders able to focus the public’s attention on its moral consequences and its political solutions. Therein lies the real danger.”

- Robert Reich, (Locked in the Cabinet, 1997)


“If you can count your money, you don’t have a billion dollars.”

John D. Rockefeller, (1839-1937)

 

“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ . . . In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all — regardless of station, race or creed. . . . We must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.”

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” (second inaugural address, 1937)

“The transmission from generation to generation of vast fortunes by will, inheritance, or gift is not consistent with the ideals of the American people.”

- Franklin D. Roosevelt, (Former President)


“Every time Jesus offers an opinion about riches, it is negative. Every time he teaches about the use of wealth, he counsels disciples to give it away.”

- Thomas Schmidt, The Midas Trap (1990)

 

“Excessive wealth, like power, tends to corrupt. Even if the rich are not ‘idle rich,’ even when they work harder than anyone else, they work differently, apply different standards, and are set apart from common humanity. They corrupt themselves by practicing greed, and they corrupt the rest of society by provoking envy.”

- E. F. Schumacher, (Small Is Beautiful, 1973)

 

“The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” (The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759)

“All for ourselves and nothing for other people seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” (The Wealth of Nations, 1776)

- Adam Smith

 

“A few people at the top are getting just enormous, enormous benefits,” says economist and Nobel laureate “You don’t need a Nobel prize to figure this out …give money to people who will spend it. Link tax cuts to expenditure. For instance, expanded unemployment benefits, aid to states and localities, money to low wage workers, investment tax credits, in particular incremental tax credits, will direct money in areas where it will be spent.”

-Joseph Stiglitz, (in astonishment at the 2003 Bush tax cut proposals)

 

“Amongst the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of conditions.” (Democracy in America)

- Alexis De Tocqueville (1831)

 

“There’s no more central theme in the Bible than the immorality of inequality. Jesus speaks more about the gap between rich and poor than he does about heaven and hell.” (1999)

“The widening gap between the top and bottom of American society is now the 900-pound gorilla lurking in the background of every political discussion. It’s just sitting there, but nobody is talking about it. It’s time we started talking about it. Our moral integrity demands it. And the common good requires it.” (in Sojourners magazine, March-April 1999)

- Jim Wallis


“When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did. Today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money his or her boss makes in one day.”

- Jim Webb, Senator

 

“To do good, blood must circulate. Money must circulate, too. Money must be distributed throughout the body politic, not be concentrated in the pockets of a few… In the natural order, all life mist exist within limits. Human society, as part of the natural order, must live within limits as well. A maximum wage linked to a decent minimum wage would help every family and every community live healthy lives – and restore balance to a nation ravaged by unbridled greed.”

- Jeff Vogel (Labor Leader, 1996)

 

“We have been dreading all along the time when the combined power of high finance would be greater that the power of the government. Have we come to a time when the President of the United States or any man who wishes to be President, must doff his cap in the presence of this high finance, and say ‘you are our inevitable master, but we will see how we can make the best of it’?”

- Woodrow Wilson, (1912)

 

“America wasn’t founded as a nation where winner takes all but over the last couple of decades, that’s the way it has turned out. The central vision of “We, the people” has been distorted and manipulated by the powerful and privileged doing their damnedest as they wage class war to sustain their way of life at the expense of everybody else.”

- Michael Winship

 

“The greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad soil of extreme, degrading, damning poverty, but the land in which there are the most homesteads, freeholds-where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all men have enough-a modest living-and no man is made possessor beyond the sane and beautiful necessities.”

- Walt Whitman, (1819-1892)


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