Heinrich Heine (1797 – 1856):
Money is the God of our time, and Rothschild is his prophet.
Gary Becker (1930 – 2014):
All human behavior can be viewed as involving participants who:
(Economic Approaches to Human Behavior, University of Chicago Press, 1976, p 14)
- maximize their utility,
- form a stable set of preferences, and
- accumulate an optimal amount of information and other inputs in a variety of markets.
Alexander Hamilton (1756 – 1804):
Why has government been instituted at all?
Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.
(Federalist No 15 Papers, 17 September 1787)
What would become of business without a market of fools?
(4th century BCE)
P W Singer (1974):
For all the claims that “big government” can never match the private sector, [the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency] is the ultimate rebuttal.
The Internet … e-mail, cell phones, computer graphics, weather satellites, fuel cells, lasers, night vision, and the Saturn V rockets [that first took man to the moon] all originated at DARPA. …
DARPA works by investing money in research ideas years before any other agency, university, or venture capitalists on Wall Street think they are fruitful enough to fund.
DARPA doesn’t focus on running its own secret labs, but instead spends 90% of its (official) budget of $3.1 billion on university and industry researchers …
(Wired for War, Penguin, 2009, p 140)
Niall Ferguson (1964):
The first era of financial globalization took at least a generation to achieve.
But it was blown apart in a matter of days.
And it would take more than two generations to repair the damage done by the guns of August 1914.
(The Ascent of Money, Penguin, 2008, p 304)
Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919):
[are] the highest results of human experience [—] the best and most valuable of all that humanity has yet accomplished.
- Private Property,
- the Law of Accumulation of Wealth, and
- the Law of Competition
L Ron Hubbard [(1911 – 1986),] the founder of the Church of Scientology, once wrote that the quickest way to make a million in America is to start a new religion.
(How Are We to Live?, 1993, p 94)
Simone Campbell [Catholic Nun]:
[We were] doing business roundtables [with] some entrepreneur, CEO types. …
A report had just come out that that the average CEO … got $10 million in salary a year, and [that] they were going for $11 million.
I got to ask them:Is it that you're not getting by on $10 million that you need $11 million?And this one guy said: …
I don't get it.Oh, no Sister Simone. …(Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise, Corsair, 2016, p 129)
It's not about the money. …
It's that we want to win.
And money just happens to be the current measure of winning.
There was a phrase — "ripping someone's face off" — that was used on the trading floor to describe when you sold something to a client who didn't understand it and you were able to extract a massive fee because they didn't understand it.
[This was seen as] a good thing because [you were] making more money for the bank.
[That] sort of spirit, of [acting against the best interests of] your client … took on significant life on Wall Street.
(Money, Power and Wall Street, 2012)
Kid Power Conference, Disney World:
Kids love advertising: it's a gift — it's something they want.
There's something to said … about getting there first, and about branding children and owning them in that way. …
In boy's advertising, it is an aggressive pattern [—] antisocial behavior in pursuit of a product is a good thing.
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859):
The people may always be mentally divided into three distinct classes.
(Democracy in America, 1835, Bantam, 2011, p 246)
- The first of these classes consists of the wealthy;
- the second, of those who are in easy circumstances; and
- the third is composed of those who have little or no property, and who subsist more especially by the work which they perform for the two superior orders.
The Anatomy of the One Percent
Breakdown of the Top 1% by Income (2012)
|Percentile||% of Total Income||% of Total Income Tax|
For 2012, the [US Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)] threshold for:
- [The] top 0.001% of tax returns [was] $62,068,187 or more [≈ $170,000 per day or 1700 times median income.]
These taxpayers accounted for 2.4% of total AGI, and paid 3.3% of total income tax.
- The top 0.01% of tax returns [was] $12,104,014 or more [≈ $33,000 per day or 330 times the median income.]
These taxpayers accounted for 5.5% of total AGI, and paid 8.3% of total income tax.
- [The top 0.1% of tax returns [was] $2,161,175 or more [≈ $6,000 per day or 60 times the median income.]
These taxpayers accounted for 11% of total AGI, and paid 18.6% of total income tax.]
- The top 1% of tax returns [was] $434,682 or more [≈ $1200 per day or 12 times median the income.]
These taxpayers accounted for 21.9% of total AGI and paid 38.1% of total income tax.
- [The] top 50% of all tax returns was $36,055 for the year [≈ $100 per day = median income.]
These taxpayers accounted for 88.9% of total AGI and paid 97.2% of total income tax.
(Individual Income Tax Shares, 2012, IRS Statistics of Income Bulletin, Spring 2015)
- This is equivalent to the wealthiest individual in a group of 100 being paid twice as much as the poorest 50 combined.
- The richest 1/100,000 part of the population captures a 1/40 share of aggregate income.
- Each of the richest 1 in 100,000 accrues the lifetime median income (~50 years) every 10 days.
- Conversely, a person (and their descendents) on the median income would need to work for 17 centuries (or 34 working lifetimes) to earn as much as the richest 1 in 100,000 get in a single year.
- By definition, half the population earn less than the median income.
- In 2005, 40% the global population (2.6 billion people) were living on less than $2 per day.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
[Private economic] power within a State … can influence
- [the] law by corruption and
- public opinion by propaganda.
It can threaten to cause a financial crisis.
But there are very definite limits to what it can achieve. …
[Where] the issue is simple and public opinion is definite, the plutocracy is powerless …
[Where] public opinion is undecided, or baffled by the complexity of the issue, the plutocracy can secure a desired political result. …
[The plutocracy has hitherto] been unable to
- introduce Asiatic labour in California or Australia, except in [the] early days in small numbers. …
- destroy trade unionism …
- avoid heavy taxation of the rich [or]
- prevent socialist propaganda. …
[The trade unions, for their part,] have failed … to keep in power governments which they liked but which a majority of the nation distrusted.
[The] power of economic organisations to influence political decisions in a democracy is limited by public opinion, which, on many important issues, refuses to be swayed even by very intensive propaganda.
Democracy, where it exists, has more reality than many opponents of capitalism are willing to admit.
(Power: A New Social Analysis, 1938, pp 85-6, emphasis added)
Ha Joon Chang (1963)
Reader in Political Economy and Development, Cambridge University
[Nineteenth century 'classical' liberals rejected] the conservative view that tradition and social hierarchy should have priority over individual rights.
[On the other hand, they] believed that not everyone was worthy of such rights.
They thought women lacked full mental faculties and thus did not deserve the right to vote.
They also insisted that poor people should not be given the right to vote, since they [feared that] the poor would vote in politicians who would [redistribute wealth. …]
[Twentieth century neo-liberals, by contrast,] do not oppose democracy [in principle.]
[In practice, however, many would be prepared where necessary to] sacrifice democracy [in the defense of] private property and the free market.
(Economics: The User's Guide: A Pelican Introduction, 2014, emphasis added)