Malefactors of Great Wealth

Collected Quotes

Andrew Jackson on the Rich and Powerful

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society — the farmers, mechanics, and laborers — who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.

— Andrew Jackson, Veto Message Regarding the Bank of the United States, July 10, 1832
Theodore Roosevelt on Malefactors of Great Wealth

There is a world-wide financial disturbance; it is felt in the bourses of Paris and Berlin; and British consols are lower than for a generation, while British railway securities have also depreciated. On the New York Stock Exchange the disturbance has been peculiarly severe . . . It may well be that the determination of the Government (in which, gentlemen, it will not waver), to punish certain malefactors of great wealth, has been responsible for something of the trouble; at least to the extent of having caused these men to combine to bring about as much financial stress as possible, in order to discredit the policy of the Government and thereby secure a reversal of that policy, so that they may enjoy unmolested the fruits of their evil-doing . . . I regard this contest as one to determine who shall rule this free country — the people through their governmental agents or a few ruthless and domineering men, whose wealth makes them peculiarly formidable, because they hide behind the breastworks of corporate organization.

― Theodore Roosevelt, Address on the occasion of the laying of the corner stone of the Pilgrim memorial monument, August 20, 1907The Panic of 1907 – also known as the 1907 Bankers’ Panic – led to the creation of the Federal Reserve System.
Ernest Hemingway on the Very Rich

He remembered poor Scott Fitzgerald and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, “The very rich are different from you and me.” And how someone had said to Fitzgerald, “Yes, they have more money.”

― Ernest Hemingway in The Snows of Kilimanjaro, August 1936, The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations
Paul Krugman on Money in Politics

The most remarkable example of how politics has shifted in favor of the wealthy is the drive to repeal the estate tax. In 1999, only the top 2 percent of estates paid any tax at all, and half the estate tax was paid by only 3,300 estates, 0.16 percent of the total, with a minimum value of $5 million and an average value of $17 million. . . It is no accident that strongly conservative views, views that militate against taxes on the rich, have spread even as the rich get richer: in addition to directly buying influence, money can be used to shape public perceptions.

— Paul Krugman, The New York Times, October 20, 2002