John Galbraith (1908–2006):
On few matters over the centuries has the human conscience been more amenable and the human brain more resourceful than in finding reasons why the rich and the fortunate should live in comfortable coexistence with the poor.
(The Affluent Society, 4th Ed, Penguin, 1984, p xxiv)
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, UCP, 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.
John Quiggin [Professor of Economics, Queensland University]:
[In the 1970s, those economists] who wanted to restore the pre-Keynesian purity of classical macroeconomics … became known as the New Classical school.
Their key idea was what they called "rational expectations," which, in its strongest form, required all participants in an economy to have, in their minds, a complete and accurate model of that economy.John Muth (1930–2005):(p 94)
[Rational expectations are] those that agree with the predictions of the relevant economic model.
[New Classical economics] reproduces the classical conclusion:
(Zombie Economics, Princeton University Press, 2012, p 96)
- that government intervention cannot improve macroeconomic performance and
- that, in the absence of such intervention, the economy will rapidly adjust to economic shocks, returning quickly to its natural equilibrium position.
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 Clérel (1805–1859) [Viscount de Tocqueville]:
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.
Breakdown of the Top 1% by Income (2012) Percentile % of Total Income % of Total Income Tax P99-100 21.9 38.1 P99.999-100 2.4 3.3 P99.99-99.999 3.1 8.3 P99.90-99.99 5.5 10.3 P99.0-99.9 10.9 19.5 P50-99 67.0 59.1 P0-50 11.1 2.8
The Anatomy of the One Percent
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
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 [to defend] private property and the free market.
(Economics: The User's Guide: A Pelican Introduction, 2014, emphasis added)
Freedom Without Justice
Richard Tawney (1880–1962)
Freedom for the pike is death for the minnows.
(Equality, 3rd Ed, 1938)
It is not till it is discovered that high individual incomes will not purchase the mass of mankind immunity from cholera, typhus, and ignorance, still less secure them the positive advantages of educational opportunity and economic security, that slowly and reluctantly, amid prophecies of moral degeneration and economic disaster, society begins to make collective provision for needs no ordinary individual, even if he works overtime all his life, can provide himself.
(Equality, 4th Ed, Allen & Unwin, 1952, pp 134–5)
Isaiah Berlin (1909–1997)
[Total] liberty for wolves is death to [lambs.]
[Total] liberty of the powerful [and] the gifted, is not compatible with the rights to a decent existence of the weak and less gifted. …
Equality may demand the restraint of the liberty of those who wish to dominate … in order
- to make room for social welfare,
- to feed the hungry,
- to clothe the naked,
- to shelter the homeless,
- to leave room for the liberty of others, [and]
- to allow justice or fairness to exercised.
(The Pursuit of the Ideal, The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas, 1990)
John Galbraith (1908–2006)
The values of a society totally preoccupied with making money are not altogether reassuring.
[From June 1929,] free at last from all threat of government reaction or retribution, the market sailed off into the wild blue yonder. …
Never before or since have so many become so wondrously, so effortlessly, and so quickly rich. …
Perhaps it was worth being poor for a long time to be so rich for just a little while.
Those who employed rational, objective, and scientific methods … failed to foretell the crash.
(The Great Crash 1929, Penguin, 1975)
A self-serving branch of moral philosophy has been devised to defend the right of the affluent to freedom of choice [which neglects to mention] the way bad public services (like the absence of income itself) abridge the freedom of the poor. (p xxiv)
[For] Herbert Spencer and his American disciples in the last century, the Social Darwinists, poverty is the socially therapeutic tendency that eliminates the unfit.
[This secular] instinct for Social Darwinism still lurks in our time [accompanied by a] fundamentalist theology that holds that property is God's natural reward for the worthy.
The poor, meanwhile, have the comfort of knowing they … will pass [more] easily into the next world to enjoy, along with the meek, full compensation for the miseries of this existence.
The relevant and supporting texts and sermons are amply available from the religious broadcasters and the Moral Majority.
The line which divides our area of wealth from our area of poverty is roughly that which divides privately produced and marketed goods and services from publicly rendered services.
[Our] wealth in privately produced goods is, to a marked degree, the cause of crisis in the supply of public services.
For we have failed to see the [the urgent need to] maintaining a balance between the two.
(The Affluent Society, 4th Ed, Penguin, 1984)
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Under pretence of governing, they have divided their nations into two classes:
- wolves and
For I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe.
And to the general prey of the rich [upon] the poor.
(Letter to Colonel Edward Carrington, 16 January 1787)
Karl Popper (1902–1994)
[The] paradox of freedom, first discovered by Plato, … can be expressed by saying that unlimited freedom leads to its opposite, since without its protection and restriction by law, freedom must lead to a tyranny of the strong over the weak.
This paradox … was solved by Kant, who demanded that the freedom of each man should be restricted, but not beyond what is necessary to safeguard an equal degree of freedom for all.
(The Open Society and Its Enemies, 5th Ed, 1966, Routledge, pp 257-8)
Simon Marginson: The Secibd Gilded Age
Robert Putnam: Freedom And Justice For All
William Goetzmann: Debt and Deficit in the 18th Century
George Megalogenis: Tax Cuts of the Rich, Spending Cuts for the Poor
Adrian Dugan: The Anatomy of the Top 1%
Paul Krugman: The Great Divergence
David Stuckler: Life, Death and Austerity
Mark Blyth: No Bailouts
Michael Lewis: High Frequency Theft
Koctopus: One Dollar, One Vote
Al Gore: The Robber Barons Ride Again
Robert Manne: After The (Neoliberal) Revolution
Paul Piff: Noblesse Oblige
Anne Manne: Producers vs Parasites
John Hewson: Budget of the Century
Alex Gibney: All I ask for is an unfair advantage
Richard Wilkinson: Inequality and Progress
Robert Johnson: Heads I win — Tails you lose.
Satyajit Das: (LIBOR^2 x 1/LIBOR) – (LIBOR^4 x LIBOR^-3) = ?
A Culture of Greed
Paul Krugman: Gambling with Civilization
Mike Pottenger: Rich Man, Poor Man
The Economist: A True Progressivism
Michael Robinson: The Restoration of the Plutocracy
Charles Ferguson: Inside Job
Joseph Stiglitz: Financial Alchemy