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  1. Aurelius, Marcus
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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

THOUGH it was not understood a century ago, and though as yet the applications of the knowledge
to the economics of life are not generally realized, life in its physical aspect is fundamentally a struggle
for energy, in which discovery after discovery brings life into new relations with the original source.

[Frederick Soddy, WEALTH, VIRTUAL WEALTH AND DEBT, 2nd edition, p. 49]

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ― Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked

[Feb 26, 2017] Notable Quotes from George Orwells Animal Farm

George Orwell's influential, allegorical novel Animal Farm was published in 1945. In the novel, the overworked and mistreated animals on a farm all begin to follow the precepts of Animalism, rise up against the humans, take over the farm, and rename the place: Animal Farm. This is something that happened with open source and Linux. But we are digressing .
Feb 26, 2017 | classiclit.about.com

[Feb 26, 2017] Thucydides - Wikiquote

Feb 26, 2017 | en.wikiquote.org

Vae victis

Wikipedia
Vae victis (IPA: [ˈwai ˈwiktiːs]) is Latin for "woe to the vanquished", or "woe to the conquered".[1] It means that those defeated in battle are entirely at the mercy of their conquerors and should not expect—or request—leniency.

Most of the incidents related by ancient historians about early Roman history are considered legends, with the Gaulish sack of Rome one of the first events which modern scholars are confident actually occurred. According to tradition, in 390 BC, an army of Gauls led by Brennus attacked Rome, capturing all of the city except for the Capitoline Hill. Brennus besieged the hill, and finally the Romans asked to ransom their city. Brennus demanded 1,000 pounds (327 kg) of gold and the Romans agreed to his terms.[2] According to Plutarch's life of Camillus and Livy's Ab Urbe Condita (Book 5 Sections 34–49),[3][4] the Gauls provided steelyard balances and weights which were used to measure the amount of gold. The Romans brought the gold, but claimed that the provided weights were rigged in the Gauls' favor. The Romans complained to Brennus, who took his sword, threw it onto the weights, and exclaimed, "Vae victis!" The Romans thus needed to bring more gold as they had to counterbalance the sword as well. Livy and Plutarch claim that Camillus subsequently succeeded in defeating the Gauls before the ransom had to be paid, although Polybius, Diodorus Siculus and a later passage from Livy contradict this.[2]

[Feb 12, 2017] “Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” ~Ian MacLaren

[Jan 26, 2017] Neoliberals adhere that the old adage: He who dies with the most toys WINS.

[Jan 26, 2017] "People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich. - John Kenneth Galbraith "The Age of Uncertainty" 1977

[Jan 25, 2017] And mentioning "a legitimacy promoted and condoned by our nation's leaders" don't forget the role of MSM in this dirty "misunderinformation" business (using the derivative of word invented by unforgettable Bush II) .

[Jan 25, 2017] "Integrity, once sold, is difficult to repurchase - even at 10x the original sales price." SonOfAHistoryProf

[Jan 24, 2017] “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell” - quoted by an Illinois native, Carl Sandburg, in The People, Yes (1936) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Why_Wikipedia_cannot_claim_the_earth_is_not_flat

[Jan 17, 2017] Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. ~JFK

[Jan 17, 2017] "Politicians were mostly people who'd had too little morals and ethics to stay lawyers." ~George R. R. Martin

[Jan 02, 2017] Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after they have exhausted all other possibilities.

Notable quotes:
"... "Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources." -- Abba Eban ..."
"... Which is frequently misquoted as, "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after they have exhausted all other possibilities." ..."
"... So when the starving mob are at the ruling elites' gates with torches and pitch forks, they'll surely find the resources to do the right thing. ..."
hardware.slashdot.org

Matt Bury ( 4823023 ) writes:

"Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources." -- Abba Eban

Which is frequently misquoted as, "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after they have exhausted all other possibilities."

So when the starving mob are at the ruling elites' gates with torches and pitch forks, they'll surely find the resources to do the right thing.

gtall ( 79522 ) writes:

Re: ( Score: 2 )

The "misquote" is a phrase uttered by Winston Churchill.

[Dec 28, 2016] Did William Casey (CIA Director) really say, We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false. ?

Dec 28, 2016 | www.quora.com

See also
Operation Mockingbird Cancel Update A disclaimer: I just like Quorans debunking or showing the stupidity behind some of the worst FB memes. A disclaimer: I just like Quorans debunking or showing the stupidity behind some of the worst FB memes. Rich-text editing is not supported on this browser. Please use Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Cancel Update Update Cancel Request Follow 34 Comment Facebook · 396 Twitter Copy Link More Share 396 Downvote Request Answers: Request From Quora Requesting From Quora We will distribute this question to writers, and notify you about new answers. We're finding writers to answer, and will notify you about new answers. Can you answer this question? Answer Answer Wiki Cancel Submit 13 Answers Barbara Honegger Barbara Honegger , studied at Stanford University Written Nov 25, 2014 I am the source for this quote, which was indeed said by CIA Director William Casey at an early February 1981 meeting of the newly elected President Reagan with his new cabinet secretaries to report to him on what they had learned about their agencies in the first couple of weeks of the administration.
The meeting was in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House, not far from the Cabinet Room. I was present at the meeting as Assistant to the chief domestic policy adviser to the President. Casey first told Reagan that he had been astonished to discover that over 80 percent of the 'intelligence' that the analysis side of the CIA produced was based on open public sources like newspapers and magazines.
As he did to all the other secretaries of their departments and agencies, Reagan asked what he saw as his goal as director for the CIA, to which
he replied with this quote, which I recorded in my notes of the meeting
as he said it. Shortly thereafter I told Senior White House correspondent Sarah McClendon, who was a close friend and colleague, who in turn made it public. Barbara Honegger bshonegg@gmail.com

[Dec 07, 2016] Quotes about our free press

craazyman November 26, 2016 at 8:40 am

It's incredible how many otherwise smart people can't think for themselves.

It's hard to know what to believe! You can believe your own eyes, but even your mind connects the dots without you knowing it.

This is not the Washington Post's finest hour - although they probably haven't had one of those for years at this point. I'm down to the Redskins coverage in the WaPo, which is still quite good actually. I used to be a Washington Post paper boy, so I'l put one last quote from Charles Osgood

It was while making newspaper deliveries, trying to miss the bushes and hit the porch, that I first learned about accuracy in journalism -Charles Osgood

(All quotes from quotegarden.com)

[Dec 06, 2016] On Trump initial cabinet appointments: It so far looks like he is not draining the swamp, but rather changing out one set of alligators for another. Jesse's Café Américain Charts at the Market Close on 'Hump Day' - Don't Worry Baby

Great Quotations on Power and Corruption - WhoWhatWhy

Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide. (Joseph P. Kennedy)

Even the best-intentioned of great men need a few scoundrels around them; there are some things you cannot ask an honest man to do. (La Bruyere)

When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer “Present” or “Not Guilty.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. (Mark Twain)

When one gets in bed with government, one must expect the diseases it spreads. (Ron Paul)

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. (Aung San Suu Kyi)

Oddly, submission to powerful, frightening, even terrible persons, like tyrants and generals, is not experienced as nearly so painful as is submission to unknown and uninteresting persons — which is what all luminaries of industry are. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Corruption, the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty. (Edward Gibbon)

***

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. (Eric Hoffer)

Everyone has observed how much more dogs are animated when they hunt in a pack, than when they pursue their game apart. We might, perhaps, be at a loss to explain this phenomenon, if we had not experience of a similar in ourselves. (David Hume)

***

Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception. (Niccolò Machiavelli)

The promise given was a necessity of the past. The word broken is a necessity of the present. (Niccolò Machiavelli)

If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back. (Carl Sagan)

Anyone who can handle a needle convincingly can make us see a thread which is not there. (E.H. Gombrich)

We become slaves the moment we hand the keys to the definition of reality entirely over to someone else, whether it is a business, an economic theory, a political party, the White House, Newsworld or CNN. (B.W. Powe)

Frank and explicit — this is the right line to take when you wish to conceal your own mind and to confuse the mind of others. (Benjamin Disraeli)

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. (Arthur Conan Doyle)

***

In politics, stupidity is not a handicap. (Napoleon)

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are stupider. (Plato)

Revolutionary movements attract those who are not good enough for established institutions as well as those who are too good for them. (Bernard Shaw)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you. (Pericles)

Freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be a bragging point that ‘Oh, I don’t get involved in politics,’ as if that makes someone cleaner. No, that makes you derelict of duty in a republic. Liars and panderers in government would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable. (Bill Maher)

***

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history. (George Orwell)

I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means — except by getting off his back. (Leo Tolstoy)

Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few. (David Hume)

Power worship blurs political judgment because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. (George Orwell)

When smashing monuments, save the pedestals — they always come in handy. (Stanislaw Lem)

***

I have a problem with people who take the Constitution loosely and the Bible literally. (Bill Maher)

Religion: a sixteenth-century term for nationalism. (Sir Lewis Namier)

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. (Seneca)

***

All truths that are kept silent become poisonous. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

[Oct 23, 2016] "There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man." ~ Gore Vidal

[Oct 22, 2016] At 50, everyone has the face he deserves. ~ George Orwell

[Oct 13, 2016] When Hillary Clinton declaration of Trump supporters as "basket of deplorables" is just another way of saying 'white-trash'

[Oct 11, 2016] Have you ever lived through a CIA-sponsored coup, a military invasion, or IMF-sponsored austerity to be certain that living through all that is preferable to the demise of American hegemony?

[Sep 21, 2016] An interesting view on Russian "intelligencia" by the scientist and writer Zinoviev expressed during "perestroika" in 1991

If intellectuals replace the current professional politicians as the leaders of society the situation would become much worse. Because they have neither the sense of reality, nor common sense. For them, the words and speeches are more important than the actual social laws and the dominant trends, the dominant social dynamics of the society. The psychological principle of the intellectuals is that we could organize everything much better, but we are not allowed to do it.

But the actual situation is as following: they could organize the life of society as they wish and plan, in the way they view is the best only if under conditions that are not present now are not feasible in the future. Therefore they are not able to act even at the level of current leaders of the society, which they despise. The actual leaders are influenced by social pressures, by the current social situation, but at least they doing something. Intellectuals are unhappy that the real stream of life they are living in. They consider it wrong. that makes them very dangerous, because they look really smart, while in reality being sophisticated professional idiots.

[Sep 14, 2016] "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." ~Max Planck

[Sep 11, 2016] The people don’t want a phony Democrat subservient to Wall Street

March 9, 2016 | nakedcapitalism.com
Mike Mc

Totally ‘liberating’ these Truman quotes for FB electioneering. Corporate ‘crapification’ of both Republican and Democratic parties is complete, since the most authentic – like it or not – candidates in this election are not party members per usual (Trump and Sanders). Think we may already have our third party… the Up Yours party!

[Sep 04, 2016] “Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

[Aug 29, 2016] If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're misinformed. ~ Mark Twain

[Aug 29, 2016] “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in Society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it”. ~ F. Bastiat.

[Aug 25, 2016] The Real Scandal of Clintons Emails Conducting Foreign Policy In Secret

Notable quotes:
"... The clintons are a terminally vulgar and unethical couple ..."
"... Mr. Clinton always had an easy, breezy relationship with wrongdoing. But the Democratic Party overlooked the ethical red flags and made a pact with Mr. Clinton that was the equivalent of a pact with the devil. And he delivered. With Mr. Clinton at the controls, the party won the White House twice. But in the process it lost its bearings and maybe even its soul. ..."
Aug 25, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

hreik , August 25, 2016 at 7:46 am

Bob Herbert said it best 15 years ago

The clintons are a terminally vulgar and unethical couple

Out of order quotes:

Mr. Clinton always had an easy, breezy relationship with wrongdoing. But the Democratic Party overlooked the ethical red flags and made a pact with Mr. Clinton that was the equivalent of a pact with the devil. And he delivered. With Mr. Clinton at the controls, the party won the White House twice. But in the process it lost its bearings and maybe even its soul.

Link http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/26/opinion/in-america-cut-him-loose.html

Jim Haygood , August 25, 2016 at 8:10 am

"The clintons are a terminally vulgar and unethical couple "

Wish this forum allowed signatures, so Bob Herbert's deep truth could appear with every post.

hreik , August 25, 2016 at 8:23 am

That's the money quote for me. Just those 9 words. Sums it up beautifully, perfectly even.

[Aug 25, 2016] Sure, we want women in power ... but not [like] Madeleine Albright Lee T Loe on Hillary Clinton

[Aug 24, 2016] The Financial Markets Are the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel

One thing you can’t hide – is when you’re crippled inside. John Lennon

[Jul 31, 2016] "Nothing wrong with Christianity except that no one ever tried it." ~George Bernard Shaw

[Jul 25, 2016] Trump quotes

[Jul 22, 2016] "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." H.L. Mencken

>

This is a beautiful metaphor for after brexit: "This is really a battle between the pimps of Wall Street and the whores of Wall Street." Redistribution of wealth again to rich again.

Lyndon Johnson famously said of Hoover that he would rather have him inside the tent pissing out than on the outside pissing in. Comments to What next for Labour when the party’s civil war is over Letters Politics The Guardian

'We live in a world where anything is possible and nothing is certain... " -- Vaclav Havel

"The EU [neoliberals] has not listened to its constituents. Like other self-absorbed ruling classes, including those in the United States, it is now paying for its arrogance." —columnist Stephen Kinzer

[Jun 23, 2016] It's one of the marvels of American democracy that the voters who often decide close elections are those who pay the least attention to the contest or consequences.

[Jun 23, 2016] "Terrible things we expect from Donald Trump, we’ve actually already seen from Hillary Clinton," Jill Stein

[Jun 21, 2016] "Sometimes it is far better to not speak and be thought of as a fool. Than to do so and erase all doubt." Mark Twain The Guardian

[Jun 20, 2016] Future candidates like Sanders will face same dilemma: Lose, & party apparatchiks dance on your grave. Win, & they’ll try to put you in one.

[Jun 13, 2016] "One of the greatest tragedies of life is the murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of brutal facts. "– Benjamin Franklin

[Jun 07, 2016] Katharine Hepburn Quotes (Author of Me)

[Jun 02, 2016] Hoisted From Comments Neoliberalism Tearing Societies Apart

naked capitalism

Fascism is a system of political and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stand(s) accused of producing division and decline. . . . George Orwell reminded us, clad in the mainstream patriotic dress of their own place and time, . . . an authentically popular fascism in the United States would be pious and anti-Black; in Western Europe, secular and antisemitic, or more probably, these days anti-Islamic; in Russia and Eastern Europe, religious, antisemitic, and slavophile.

Robert O. Paxton, In The Five Stages of Faschism

"… that eternal enemy: the conservative manipulators of privilege who damn as 'dangerous agitators' any man who menaces their fortunes" (maybe 'power and celebrity' should be added to fortunes)

Sinclair Lewis It Can't Happen Here page 141

[May 28, 2016] Friendship in bohemia meant money borrowed, recriminations, complaints, tears, theft, and deceit. — Mavis Gallant

[May 25, 2016] Oscar Wilde on Love

[May 22, 2016] The Moor has done his duty. The Moor can go

Yahoo Answers
"The Moor has done his duty. The Moor can go." Where does the expression come from?

In German it sounds: "Der Mohr hat seine Schuldigkeit getan. Der Mohr kann gehen". And it seems to be from Friedrich Schiller's play "Fiesco". Can anyone tell me please if this phrase is some sort of reminiscence from or has something to do with Shakespeare's Othello?

[Apr 13, 2016] Well, nobody’s perfect! 40 great quotes about marriage

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/40-great-quotes-about-marriage/well-nobodys-perfect/

[Apr 11, 2016] It is hard for a man to understand something when his paycheck depends on not understanding it. - Upton Sinclair.

[Apr 11, 2016] Voting for Trump is like playing Russian Roulette with 3 bullets in the revolver. With Hillary, there are 5 bullets and a blank that will probably kill you anyway.

Reason.com

CPADave71|2.28.16 @ 11:54AM|#

It's nice to see Reason actually pointing out Hillary's awfulness for a change. As horrific as Trump may be, it's hard to imagine that he could be worse than her.

Voting for Trump is like playing Russian Roulette with 3 bullets in the revolver. With Hillary, there are 5 bullets and a blank that will probably kill you anyway.

Crusty Juggler|2.28.16 @ 11:57AM|#

it's hard to imagine that he could be worse than her.

His cabinet could consist of Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani, so that could easily be worse than whatever steaming pile of incompetent corruption Hillary cobbles together.

There is no better choice.

Reflections|2.29.16 @ 4:32PM|#

The presses purpose is to create chaos. The corporate media's both written and visual, job is to repeat what the rich and powerful and law enforcement tell them to say. It' all design to deceive the public with corporate lies. Police officers just doing there job are now coined with every story as a "hero". The most abused word in the corporate bias media. Giant infomercials unreadable and unwatchable.


[Mar 03, 2016] Collection of random quotes for March 2016

"... the lower classes are never, even temporarily, successful in achieving their aims ..."

As Orwell correctly stated that "the lower classes are never, even temporarily, successful in achieving their aims".

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.... A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass: he is actually ill. H. L. Mencken

The most curious social convention of the great age in which we live is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected. Its evil effects must be plain enough to everyone. ... There is, in fact, nothing about religious opinions that entitles them to any more respect than other opinions get. On the contrary, they tend to be noticeably silly. ... No, there is nothing notably dignified about religious ideas. They run, rather, to a peculiarly puerile and tedious kind of nonsense. At their best, they are borrowed from metaphysicians, which is to say, from men who devote their lives to proving that twice two is not always or necessarily four. At their worst, they smell of spiritualism and fortune telling. Nor is there any visible virtue in the men who merchant them professionally. Few theologians know anything that is worth knowing, even about theology, and not many of them are honest. ... But the average theologian is a hearty, red-faced, well-fed fellow with no discernible excuse in pathology. He disseminates his blather, not innocently, like a philosopher, but maliciously, like a politician. In a well-organized world he would be on the stone-pile. But in the world as it exists we are asked to listen to him, not only politely, but even reverently, and with our mouths open. H. L. Mencken

[Feb 28, 2016] Random quotes Feb 2016

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. ~Richard P. Feynman

There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again. ~ Bush II

Bush II proved that "you can fool all of the people some of the time" with "you can fool some of the people all of the time". And "some of the time" extends to the election year.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary” ― Steve Jobs

‘Americans are said to be ignorant of the world. We are, but so are people in other countries. If people in Bhutan or Bolivia misunderstand Syria, however, that has no real effect. Our ignorance is more dangerous, because we act on it. The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. ” – http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/02/18/the-media-are-misleading-public-syria/8YB75otYirPzUCnlwaVtcK/story.html

"CYRIL: Lying! I should have thought that our politicians kept up that habit.

VIVIAN: I assure you that they do not. They never rise beyond the level of misrepresentation, and actually condescend to prove, to discuss, to argue. How different from the temper of the true liar, with his frank, fearless statements, his superb responsibility, his healthy, natural disdain of proof of any kind! After all, what is a fine lie? Simply that which is its own evidence. If a man is sufficiently unimaginative to produce evidence in support of a lie, he might just as well speak the truth at once. No, the politicians won't do. Something may, perhaps, be urged on behalf of the Bar. The mantle of the Sophist has fallen on its members. Their feigned ardours and unreal rhetoric are delightful." - Oscar Wilde, The Decay Of Lying

“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.” ~ Machiavelli

Kon Berner 2 days ago (edited)

Good stuff. The full Lord Acton quote, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.” A few more: “The object of civil society is justice, not truth, virtue, wealth, knowledge, glory or power. Justice is followed by equality and liberty.” “Men cannot be made good by the state, but they can easily be made bad. Morality depends on liberty.” “Bureaucracy is undoubtedly [the weapon and sign of a despotic government, inasmuch as it gives whatever government it serves, despotic power.” “Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.”]

[Feb 26, 2016] The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers

Seth Finkelstein sethf@mit.edu

Few people are unfamiliar with the phrase The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyer. Rueful, mocking, it often expresses the ordinary person's frustration with the arcana and complexity of law. Sometimes it's known known that the saying comes from one of Shakespeare's plays, but usually there's little awareness beyond that. This gap in knowledge has inspired a myth of "correction", where it is "explained" that this is line really intended as a praise of the lawyer's role.

For example, one legal firm states:

"The first thing we do," said the character in Shakespeare's Henry VI, is "kill all the lawyers." Contrary to popular belief, the proposal was not designed to restore sanity to commercial life. Rather, it was intended to eliminate those who might stand in the way of a contemplated revolution -- thus underscoring the important role that lawyers can play in society.
(from Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP Firm Profile)

Or

As the famous remark by the plotter of treachery in Shakespeare's King Henry VI shows - "The first thing we must do is kill all the lawyers," - the surest way to chaos and tyranny even then was to remove the guardians of independent thinking.
(from THINKING LIKE A LAWYER)

The argument of this remark as in fact being favorable to lawyers is a marvel of sophistry, twisting of the meaning of words in unfamiliar source, disregard of the evident intent of the original author and ad hominem attack. Whoever first came up with this interpretation surely must have been a lawyer.

The line is actually uttered by a character "Dick The Butcher". While he's a killer as evil as his name implies, he often makes highly comedic and amusing statements. The wisecracking villain is not an invention of modern action movies, it dates back to Shakespeare and beyond.

The setup for the "kill the lawyers" statement is the ending portion of a comedic relief part of a scene in Henry VI, part 2. Dick and another henchman, Smith are members of the gang of Jack Cade, a pretender to the throne. The built-up is long portion where Cade make vain boasts, which are cut down by sarcastic replies from the others. For example:

JACK CADE.
Valiant I am.

SMITH [aside].
'A must needs; for beggary is valiant.

JACK CADE.
I am able to endure much.

DICK [aside].
No question of that; for I have seen him whipp'd three market-days together.

JACK CADE.
I fear neither sword nor fire.

SMITH [aside].
He need not fear the sword; for his coat is of proof.

DICK [aside].
But methinks he should stand in fear of fire, being burnt i' th'hand for stealing of sheep.

You can almost hear the rim-shot after everything Dick or Smith say here.

Cade proceeds to go more and more over the top, and begins to describe his absurd ideal world:

JACK CADE.
Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation. There shall be in England seven half-penny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hoop'd pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it felony to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass: and when I am king,- as king I will be,-

ALL.
God save your majesty!

Appreciated and encouraged, he continues on in this vein:
JACK CADE.
I thank you, good people:- there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.
And here is where Dick speaks the famous line.
DICK.
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
The audience must have doubled over in laughter at this. Far from "eliminating those who might stand in the way of a contemplated revolution" or portraying lawyers as "guardians of independent thinking", it's offered as the best feature imagined of yet for utopia. It's hilarious. A very rough and simplistic modern translation would be "When I'm the King, there'll be two cars in every garage, and a chicken in every pot" "AND NO LAWYERS". It's a clearly lawyer-bashing joke. This is further supported by the dialogue just afterwards (which is actually quite funny even now, and must have been hilarious when the idiom was contemporary):
DICK.
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

JACK CADE.
Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings: but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since.- How now! who's there?

He might just as well have been describing "shrink-wrap" software licensing agreements today in the last sentence. To understand what Cade is saying here, you have to know that documents of the time were likely parchment, and sealed with wax. So when he says "Some say the bees stings; but I say, 'tis the bee's wax". he's making an ironic comment somewhat akin to "Some men rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen". And the fact that he himself is an evil man only serves to heighten the irony, not discredit the sentiment - the more evil he is, the more the contrast is apparent.

It makes as much sense to conclude that since the "kill the lawyers" joke is expressed by villains, who later commit murderous deeds "there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score" is an approval of Libertarian thought, and a warning about Communists.

Now, just after this exchange, the scene changes tone. The gang commits the murder of the clerk of chatham. Here is the second level of Shakespeare's commentary on law and layers, where the murder is carried out according to scrupulous procedure, a parody of law:

JACK CADE.
I am sorry for't: the man is a proper man, of mine honour; unless I find him guilty, he shall not die.- Come hither, sirrah, I must examine thee: what is thy name?
By this contrast Shakespeare thus makes in an alternating, connected, comedic and tragic manner the age-old point about the difference between *law* (and those who argue it) and *justice*. Cade makes up his "version" of law to his own ends, to the justification of his evil deeds, which is reminiscent of the context which commonly provokes "kill the lawyers" (where the phrase is in wry protest of actions thought to be the same in form, if not in degree). Far from being "out of context" the usage is more true to the original than most people know.

Now, compares this to the description given by the web page Lawyers are Our Friends!

Cade's friend Dick the Butcher, being only barely smarter than Cade, knew Cade's scheme could not succeed if the learned advisors to the real King actually investigated Cade's lineage. So, Dick the Butcher advised Cade that "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," hoping that this tactic would prevent Cade from being discovered as an imposter. At least in Shakespeare's time, lawyers were regarded as the protectors of truth.
That lawyer is being a protector of some sort, but it doesn't seem to be of the truth!

In fact, Shakespeare used lawyers as figures of derision on several occasions. In "Romeo and Juliet", Mercutio uses the line "O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees;" In "King Lear", the fool defends a speech in riddles by comparing it to an "unfee'd lawyer":

EARL OF KENT.
This is nothing, fool.

FOOL.
Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer,- you gave me nothing for't.- Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?

There's a very long and lawyer-uncomplimentary passage in Hamlet. Note the similarity of the "parchment" joke to that seen in Henry VI, part 2.
HAMLET.
There's another: why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be in's time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries: is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in this box; and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?

HORATIO.
Not a jot more, my lord.

HAMLET.
Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?

HORATIO.
Ay, my lord, and of calf-skins too.

HAMLET.
They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow.- Whose grave's this, sirrah?

As long as there are lawyer, there will be "lawyer jokes". And lawyers will show how those jokes ring true by trying to explain how such lampooning really constitutes praise for their profession, thus by example justifying the jokes more than ever.


Seth Finkelstein is a software developer and Internet activist.

[Jan 27, 2016] More Politicians Admitting That Money Controls Politics

Notable quotes:
"... I think many people have the mistaken impression that Congress regulates Wall Street. … The real truth is that Wall Street regulates the Congress. ..."
"... When some think tank comes up with the legislation and tells you not to fool with it, why are you even a legislator anymore? You just sit there and take votes and youre kind of a feudal serf for folks with a lot of money ..."
"... I firmly believe that we are beginning in this country to look like a Russian-style oligarchy where a couple of dozen billionaires have basically bought the government. ..."
"... Our electoral system is a mess. Powerful financial interests, free to throw money about with little transparency, have corrupted the basic principles underlying our representative democracy ..."
"... Across the spectrum, money changed votes. Money certainly drove policy at the White House during the Clinton administration, and Im sure it has in every other administration too ..."
"... From now on property rights and financial rights will be subordinated to human rights. … The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson. … The country is going through a repetition of Jacksons fight with the Bank of the United States - only on a far bigger and broader basis. ..."
"... Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day. ..."
theintercept.com
Three weeks ago I posted a collection of quotes from politicians acknowledging the obvious reality that money has a huge impact on what they do, and asked anyone with more examples to send them to me .

You really came through. Here are 15 more great examples, with credit to the people who suggested them.

Please keep them coming; I'm looking specifically for working politicians who describe a tight linkage between money and political outcomes. And I'd still love to speak directly to current or former politicians who have an opinion about this.

I'll continue to add all of them to the original post , so you can bookmark that for the complete collection.

• "I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that's a broken system." - Donald Trump in 2015.

• "This is what's wrong. [Donald Trump] buys and sells politicians of all stripes. … He's used to buying politicians." - Sen. Rand Paul , R-Ky., in 2015.

• "The millionaire class and the billionaire class increasingly own the political process, and they own the politicians that go to them for money. … We are moving very, very quickly from a democratic society, one person, one vote, to an oligarchic form of society, where billionaires would be determining who the elected officials of this country are." - Sen. Bernie Sanders , I-Vt., in 2015. (Thanks to Robert Wilson in comments .)

Sanders has also said many similar things, including : "I think many people have the mistaken impression that Congress regulates Wall Street. … The real truth is that Wall Street regulates the Congress." (Thanks to ND, via email.)

• "Today's whole political game, run by an absurdist's nightmare of moneyed elites, is ridiculous - a game in which corporations are people and money is magically empowered to speak; candidates trek to the corporate suites and secret retreats of the rich, shamelessly selling their political souls." - Jim Hightower , former Democratic agricultural commissioner of Texas, 2015. (Thanks to CS, via email.)

• "People tell me all the time that our politics in Washington are broken and that multimillionaires, billionaires and big corporations are calling all the shots. … It's hard not to agree." - Russ Feingold , three-term Democratic senator from Wisconsin, in 2015 announcing he's running for the Senate again. (Thanks to CS, via email.)

• "I can legally accept gifts from lobbyists unlimited in number and in value … As you might guess, what results is a corruption of the institution of Missouri government, a corruption driven by big money in politics." - Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf , 2015. (Thanks to DK, via email.)

• "When some think tank comes up with the legislation and tells you not to fool with it, why are you even a legislator anymore? You just sit there and take votes and you're kind of a feudal serf for folks with a lot of money." - Dale Schultz , 32-year Republican state legislator in Wisconsin and former state Senate Majority Leader, in 2013 before retiring rather than face a primary challenger backed by Americans for Prosperity.

Several months later Schultz said : "I firmly believe that we are beginning in this country to look like a Russian-style oligarchy where a couple of dozen billionaires have basically bought the government."

• "I was directly told, 'You want to be chairman of House Administration, you want to continue to be chairman.' They would actually put in writing that you have to raise $150,000. They still do that - Democrats and Republicans. If you want to be on this committee, it can cost you $50,000 or $100,000 - you have to raise that money in most cases." - Bob Ney , five-term Republican congressman from Ohio who pleaded guilty to corruption charges connected to the Jack Abramoff scandal, in 2013. (Thanks to ratpatrol in comments .)

• "American democracy has been hacked. … The United States Congress … is now incapable of passing laws without permission from the corporate lobbies and other special interests that control their campaign finances." - Al Gore , former vice president, in his 2013 book The Future. (Thanks to anon in comments .)

• "I will begin by stating the sadly obvious: Our electoral system is a mess. Powerful financial interests, free to throw money about with little transparency, have corrupted the basic principles underlying our representative democracy." - Chris Dodd , five-term Democratic senator from Connecticut, in 2010 farewell speech. (Thanks to RO, via email.)

"Across the spectrum, money changed votes. Money certainly drove policy at the White House during the Clinton administration, and I'm sure it has in every other administration too." - Joe Scarborough , four-term Republican congressman from Florida and now co-host of "Morning Joe," in the 1990s. (Thanks to rrheard in comments .)

• "We are the only people in the world required by law to take large amounts of money from strangers and then act as if it has no effect on our behavior." - Barney Frank , 16-term Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, in the 1990s. (Thanks to RO, via email.)

• "Money plays a much more important role in what is done in Washington than we believe. … You've got to cozy up, as an incumbent, to all the special interest groups who can go out and raise money for you from their members, and that kind of a relationship has an influence on the way you're gonna vote. … I think we have to become much more vigilant on seeing the impact of money. … I think it's wrong and we've got to change it." - Mitt Romney , then the Republican candidate running against Ted Kennedy for Senate, in 1994. (Thanks to LA, via email.)

• "I had a nice talk with Jack Morgan [i.e., banker J.P. Morgan, Jr.] the other day and he seemed more worried about [Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Rexford] Tugwell's speech than about anything else, especially when Tugwell said, 'From now on property rights and financial rights will be subordinated to human rights.' … The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson. … The country is going through a repetition of Jackson's fight with the Bank of the United States - only on a far bigger and broader basis." - Franklin D. Roosevelt in a 1933 letter to Edward M. House. (Thanks to LH, via email.)

• "Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." - 1912 platform of the Progressive Party, founded by former president Theodore Roosevelt. (Thanks to LH, via email.)

[Jan 14, 2016] The Market Can Remain Irrational Longer Than You Can Remain Solvent

quoteinvestigator.com

Quote Investigator

In 2007 an article in BusinessWeek credited Keynes with the saying [BWMK]:

The trickiest part of putting your money into a bearish bet is the timing. You can be right that a market or sector is overvalued but wrong on the timing. That's essentially what economist John Maynard Keynes meant when he said, "The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

[Jan 14, 2016] War Against a Foreign Country Only Happens When the Moneyed Classes Think They Are Going to Profit From It

Quote Investigator
< < In 1984 the journal "Encounter" printed an article titled "Will George Orwell Survive 1984?" by Leopold Labedz which included excerpts from Orwell's writings which traced his evolving opinions. The passage from 1937 was slightly compressed. The ellipsis was in the quoted text: 2

28 August 1937: "War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it. . . . Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as war but as an act of self-defence against a homicidal maniac ('militarist' Germany in 1914, 'Fascist' Germany next year or the year after). The essential job is to get people to recognise war propaganda when they see it, especially when it is disguised as peace propaganda."

[Jan 14, 2016] Capitalism The Nastiest of Men for the Nastiest of Motives Will Somehow Work for the Benefit of All

Quote Investigator
The earliest known attribution of the saying to Keynes was found by the outstanding researcher Ken Hirsch who shared his knowledge via Wikiquote [WJK]. The words appeared in 1951 in the book "Christianity and Human Relations in Industry" within a discussion of free markets and "the doctrine of the hidden hand" [CHR]:

… as J. M. Keynes used to put it, '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'.

The subphrase "the best results in the best of all possible worlds" alludes to Voltaire's satirical character Dr. Pangloss and his philosophy in "Candide". Indeed, the entire statement credited to Keynes has a satirical edge. However, Keynes died in 1946 and this statement has not been found in his writings.

[Jan 14, 2016] I Think that I Shall Never See a Billboard Lovely as a Tree

Jan 14, 2016 | Quote Investigator
Dear Quote Investigator: April is National Poetry Month in the U. S., and Arbor Day also occurs in this month. A famous poem by Joyce Kilmer begins with the following couplet: 1

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A comical riff on this work begins with the following lines:

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.

... ... ....

Quote Investigator: The October 15, 1932 issue of "The New Yorker" published a poem titled "Song of the Open Road" by Ogden Nash who was a popular wordsmith of light verse. This was the earliest publication known to QI: 2

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.
-OGDEN NASH

[Dec 25, 2015] Read The Letter That Turned Folk Icon Pete Seeger Into An FBI Target

"The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic" that's a problematic statement as the stability of government is an important thing and radicals even if he loves his country work against the stability. Right or wrong he is a destabilizing force.
Zero Hedge

All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him… The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.

– H.L. Mencken

[Dec 18, 2015] Attributed to former U.S. President George H. W. Bush:

New World Order is the consolidation of more power and money into tighter, fewer, righter hands.

"If the people were to ever find out what we have done, we would be chased down the streets and lynched." -- George H. W. Bush, cited in the June, 1992 Sarah McClendon Newsletter

[Dec 16, 2015] It is not inequality that drives innovation and economic growth -- it is the attempt to escape the leveling forces of capitalism.... -- Mark Thoma

Donald Trump’s Divisiveness Is Bad for the Economy The Fiscal Times

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest described Donald Trump as “offensive and toxic,” though that only begins to describe the corrosive effect his bigotry, divisiveness, and xenophobia have on our society. It is at odds with our values as a nation.

It’s also bad for the economy.

A divided society cannot function optimally, especially when the divisions erect walls between groups that are difficult to cross

... ... ...

It is not inequality that drives innovation and economic growth--it is the attempt to escape the leveling forces of capitalism. If we truly wanted to produce the most economic growth, everyone should start off equal to the extent possible. That way, everyone would have the incentive to differentiate themselves from others, and the means to do so. Inheritance taxes would be 100 percent; schools would be assigned randomly to ensure there’s an incentive to equalize resources, and so on, and so on.

Of course, that will never happen. As we’re seeing in the presidential election, those with means are trying to make the divisions larger rather than break them down. They tell us inequality drives our economy, when in fact inequality is an outcome, the driving force behind it is the desire to escape the equalizing forces of competition. Inequality as a starting point takes away opportunity from the children of the poor, and it dulls incentives for the children of the rich. It’s not hard to understand why recent research has found that high and persistent inequality is associated with lower economic growth.

[Dec 07, 2015] “If you don’t read a newspaper every day, you are uninformed. If you do, you are misinformed.” – Mark Twain

[Dec 02, 2015] Economist's View Links for 12-02-15

Notable quotes:
"... It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

RGC said in reply to EMichael...

Upton Sinclair:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

... ... ...

As Hemingway and F. SCott Fitzgerald exchanged in their writings (the reputed face-to-face conversation may not have happened):

The rich are different.

Yes, they have more money.

Combine elite and rich and you get a toxic combination.

[Nov 19, 2015] Random findings Nov 18, 2015

[Oct 07, 2015] Bismarck said 'God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America.' We must be in good shape considering we've had fools like Wolfowitz and drunks like G.W Bush running the country.

[Oct 02, 2015] "Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength" -- Eric Hoffer

"There are two kinds of realists: those who manipulate facts and those who create them. The West requires nothing so much as men able to create their own reality." -- Henry Kissinger, 1963

William Shakespeare,

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures."

-- Julius Caesar

"But in these cases
We still have judgment here, that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
To our own lips..."

Shakespeare, Macbeth

[Sep 20, 2015] "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." -- an epigraph from Jonathan Swift's essay, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting

[Sep 18, 2015] There is an old saying on Wall Street that trees don’t grow to the sky. Apparently, not everyone believes this.

WAR MAKES MORE EVIL PEOPLE THAN IT KILLS—Immanuel Kant

The single greatest waste of human resources is war related activities. In the period from 1945 until 1985 the United states had consumed through its military expenditures enough to build a second United States—from factories, roads to homes and consumer items.

Random findings

[Aug 29, 2015] John Kenneth Galbraith on Writing, Inspiration, and Simplicity

"...A major contribution of JK Galbraith was the principle of countervailing power which did not depend on the niceties of detailed microeconomic analysis of market or government power. Galbraith paralleled the book, The Modern Corporation and Private Property by Berle and Means, 1932."
"..."In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot be stated in plain language."

That's the acid test, the one that macro-types fail. Their mathiness and their rhetorical obfuscations damn them all - that kind of tripe doesn't work at all in front of a judge or a jury, but it's good as gold in academia and bureaucracy. Their miserable record of delivered failure doesn't help either.

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." (Einstein)"

From Tim Taylor:

John Kenneth Galbraith on Writing, Inspiration, and Simplicity: John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was trained as an economist, but in books like The Affluent Society (1958) and The New Industrial State (1967), his found his metier as a social critic. In these books and voluminous other writings, Galbraith didn't propose well-articulated economic theories, and carry out systematic empirical tests, but instead offered big-picture perspectives of the economy and society of his time. His policy advice was grindingly predictable: big and bigger doses of progressive liberalism, what he sometimes called "new socialism."

For a sense of how mainstream and Democratic-leaning economists of the time dismissed Galbraith's work, classic example is this scathing-and-smiling review of The New Industrial State by Robert Solow in the Fall 1967 issue of The Public Interest. Galbreath's response appears in the same issue. Connoisseurs of academic blood sports will enjoy the exchange.

Here, I come not to quarrel with Galbraith's economics, but to praise him as one of the finest writers on economics and social science topics it has ever been my pleasure to read. I take as my text his essay on "Writing, Typing, and Economics," which appeared in the March 1978 issue of The Atlantic and which I recently rediscovered. Here are some highlights:

"All writers know that on some golden mornings they are touched by the wand — are on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth. I have experienced those moments myself. Their lesson is simple: It's a total illusion. And the danger in the illusion is that you will wait for those moments. Such is the horror of having to face the typewriter that you will spend all your time waiting. I am persuaded that most writers, like most shoemakers, are about as good one day as the next (a point which Trollope made), hangovers apart. The difference is the result of euphoria, alcohol, or imagination. The meaning is that one had better go to his or her typewriter every morning and stay there regardless of the seeming result. It will be much the same. ..."
"My advice to those eager students in California would be, "Do not wait for the golden moment. It may well be worse." I would also warn against the flocking tendency of writers and its use as a cover for idleness. It helps greatly in the avoidance of work to be in the company of others who are also waiting for the golden moment. The best place to write is by yourself, because writing becomes an escape from the terrible boredom of your own personality. It's the reason that for years I've favored Switzerland, where I look at the telephone and yearn to hear it ring. ..."
"There may be inspired writers for whom the first draft is just right. But anyone who is not certifiably a Milton had better assume that the first draft is a very primitive thing. The reason is simple: Writing is difficult work. Ralph Paine, who managed Fortune in my time, used to say that anyone who said writing was easy was either a bad writer or an unregenerate liar. Thinking, as Voltaire avowed, is also a very tedious thing which men—or women—will do anything to avoid. So all first drafts are deeply flawed by the need to combine composition with thought. Each later draft is less demanding in this regard. Hence the writing can be better. There does come a time when revision is for the sake of change—when one has become so bored with the words that anything that is different looks better. But even then it may be better. ..."
"Next, I would want to tell my students of a point strongly pressed, if my memory serves, by Shaw. He once said that as he grew older, he became less and less interested in theory, more and more interested in information. The temptation in writing is just the reverse. Nothing is so hard to come by as a new and interesting fact. Nothing is so easy on the feet as a generalization. I now pick up magazines and leaf through them looking for articles that are rich with facts; I do not care much what they are. Richly evocative and deeply percipient theory I avoid. It leaves me cold unless I am the author of it. ..."
"In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot be stated in plain language. Qualifications and refinements are numerous and of great technical complexity. These are important for separating the good students from the dolts. But in economics the refinements rarely, if ever, modify the essential and practical point. The writer who seeks to be intelligible needs to be right; he must be challenged if his argument leads to an erroneous conclusion and especially if it leads to the wrong action. But he can safely dismiss the charge that he has made the subject too easy. The truth is not difficult. Complexity and obscurity have professional value—they are the academic equivalents of apprenticeship rules in the building trades. They exclude the outsiders, keep down the competition, preserve the image of a privileged or priestly class. The man who makes things clear is a scab. He is criticized less for his clarity than for his treachery.
"Additionally, and especially in the social sciences, much unclear writing is based on unclear or incomplete thought. It is possible with safety to be technically obscure about something you haven't thought out. It is impossible to be wholly clear on something you do not understand. Clarity thus exposes flaws in the thought. The person who undertakes to make difficult matters clear is infringing on the sovereign right of numerous economists, sociologists, and political scientists to make bad writing the disguise for sloppy, imprecise, or incomplete thought. One can understand the resulting anger."
reason said...
I must say I enjoyed reading and listening to Galbraith, but if I am honest, I will also say that I didn't learn much from him.

His most important contribution is the sentence "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." That clings as true today, as it ever did, and should always be used as a guide towards an appropriate level of scepticism.

RogerFox said...

"In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot be stated in plain language."

That's the acid test, the one that macro-types fail. Their mathiness and their rhetorical obfuscations damn them all - that kind of tripe doesn't work at all in front of a judge or a jury, but it's good as gold in academia and bureaucracy. Their miserable record of delivered failure doesn't help either.

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." (Einstein)

anne said...

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

Though the passage is attributed to Einstein, there is no evidence that the passage is by Einstein.

anne said...

http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20080522_196700909thenewindustrialstateorsonofaffluencerobertmsolow.pdf

1967

The New Industrial State or Son of Affluence
By ROBERT M. SOLOW

[ An absolutely shameful review, empty and mean-spirited and designed to be intimating for teachers or students who would otherwise teach or read Galbraith's "New Industrial State." Galbraith's work in my experience was routinely mocked and dismissed by teaching economists, a dismissal that was even reflected in unfair remarks made by Paul Krugman many years after this review by Solow. ]

anne -> anne...

http://www.pkarchive.org/cranks/GalbraithGoodSociety.html

September 1, 1996

Review of John Kenneth Galbraith's 'The Good Society: The Humane Agenda'
By Paul Krugman - Washington Monthly

To be both a liberal and a good economist you must have a certain sense of the tragic--that is, you must understand that not all goals can be attained, that life is a matter of painful tradeoffs. You must want to help the poor, but understand that welfare can encourage dependency. You must want to protect those who lose their jobs, but admit that generous unemployment benefits can raise the long-term rate of unemployment. You must be willing to tax the affluent to help those in need, but accept that too high a rate of taxation can discourage investment and innovation. To the free-market conservative, these are all arguments for government to do nothing, to accept whatever level of poverty and insecurity the market happens to produce. A serious liberal does not reply to such conservatives by denying that there are any trade-offs at all; he insists, rather, that some trade-offs are worth making, that helping the poor and protecting the unlucky may have costs but will ultimately make for a better society.

The revelation one gets from reading John Kenneth Galbraith's "The Good Society" is that Galbraith--who is one of the world's most celebrated intellectuals, and whom one would expect to have a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the human condition than a mere technical economist would--lacks this tragic sense. Galbraith's vision of the economy is one without shadows, in which what is good for social justice always turns out to have no unfavorable side effects. If this vision is typical of liberal intellectuals, the ineffectuality of the tribe is not an accident: It stems from a deep-seated unwillingness to face up to uncomfortable reality....

Second Best said...

A major contribution of JK Galbraith was the principle of countervailing power which did not depend on the niceties of detailed microeconomic analysis of market or government power. Galbraith paralleled the book, The Modern Corporation and Private Property by Berle and Means, 1932.

The essential point of Berle and Means was owners of private property as stockholders no longer controlled the means of production, taken over by the managers. A key contemporary marker of this effect is how CEO pay and control is completely immune from stockholder influence. It was the mother of the principal-agent problem but never caught on.

Countervailing power among the economic powers became the determinant focal point of economic outcomes. All of whatever free markets under capitalism were ever meant to be evolved accordingly.

At the highest level countervailing power meant government power versus private property power. Since private market power itself was systematically stripped from its owners as stockholders early on, and the managerial elite went on to confiscate government power as well, this undermined the fundamental notion of countervailing power itself.

The pinnacle of the elaborate systemic hoax of ownership of private property by the masses before it collapsed with the housing bubble and Great Recession, emerged under George W Bush as the ownership society.

By then not even the SCOTUS that appointed Bush was a countervailng power to the other branches of government, much less the private corporate and billionaire power at the apex of if all.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Second Best...

Well said. You are correct. This is no joke.

anne said...

Galbraith didn't propose well-articulated economic theories, and carry out systematic empirical tests, but instead offered big-picture perspectives of the economy and society of his time. His policy advice was grindingly predictable: big and bigger doses of progressive liberalism, what he sometimes called "new socialism."

-- Tim Taylor

[ So much for Keynes. The disdain for and dismissal of actually liberal ideas by a range of economists is continually shocking, but evidently allows for no discussion. So we find the failing policy applications before and following the great recession, still essentially unchallenged. ]

rayward said...

Economists are insecure, occupying the uncertain territory between philosophy and science. Economists on the right have an incentive to make economics a science, with its mathematical certainty, because, well, there can't be certainty in economics, at least not in math, thereby confirming that markets should be left alone to do their magic. Economists on the left are, well, just insecure. Galbraith excepted.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> rayward...

In economics, the majority is always wrong.

John Kenneth Galbraith

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_kenneth_galbraith.html

[JKG was a very funny guy of the ironic sort, the best sort in my book.]

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite.

John Kenneth Galbraith

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.

John Kenneth Galbraith

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.

John Kenneth Galbraith

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.

John Kenneth Galbraith

[Aug 24, 2015] A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes. - Mark Twain's Notebook

[May 30, 2015] Going Off the Rails on a Crazy Train

Jesse's Café Américain

And what happens when PR turns a profit, and truth goes penniless?" -- Bill Moyers

"Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein

[May 24, 2015] Mathematics is the subject that Russians teach chinese and indians in US universities.

[May 24, 2015] Will Robots Kill the Asian Century The National Interest

OWEN HARRIES, the first editor, together with Robert Tucker, of The National Interest, once reminded me that experts—economists, strategists, business leaders and academics alike—tend to be relentless followers of intellectual fashion, and the learned, as Harold Rosenberg famously put it, a “herd of independent minds.”

[Apr 22, 2015] Plutarch on inequlity

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.

[Apr 07, 2015] Keynes Quotes

  1. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done, JM Keynes, General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money Ch 12, p142 in Google Book edition, Atlantic Publishers
  2. The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.
    • A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923) Ch. 3; many have thought this meant Keynes supported short terms gains against long term economic performance, but he was actually criticizing the belief that inflation would acceptably control itself without government intervention.
"Give me control of a nations money supply & I care not who makes its laws"

"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics."

Charles Montesquieu

Random findings:

Jack London, The Iron Heel

"You have repeatedly confessed to-night, by direct avowal or ignorant statement, that you do not know the working class. But you are not to be blamed for this. How can you know anything about the working class? You do not live in the same locality with the working class. You herd with the capitalist class in another locality. And why not? It is the capitalist class that pays you, that feeds you, that puts the very clothes on your backs that you are wearing to-night. And in return you preach to your employers the brands of metaphysics that are especially acceptable to them; and the especially acceptable brands are acceptable because they do not menace the established order of society.

Be true to your salt and your hire; guard, with your preaching, the interests of your employers; but do not come down to the working class and serve as false leaders. You cannot honestly be in the two camps at once. The working class has done without you. Believe me, the working class will continue to do without you. And, furthermore, the working class can do better without you than with you."

Jack London, The Iron Heel

Farewell to Empire

The Capitol stuffs its ears when it hears you; the world reviles you. I can blush for you no longer, and I have no wish to do so.

The howls of Cerberus, the dog of the underworld, though resembling your speeches, will be less offensive to me, for I have never been associated with Cerberus, and I need not be ashamed of his howling.

Farewell, but make no music; commit murder, but write no verses; poison people, but do not dance; be an incendiary, but play no harp. This is the wish and the last friendly advice sent to you by me.

Petronius, Arbiter Elegantiae, Farewell to His Emperor

Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than evil

"Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than evil. One can protest against evil; it can be unmasked and, if need be, prevented by force. Evil always carries the seeds of its own destruction, as it makes people, at the least, uncomfortable. Against folly we have no defence. Neither protests nor force can touch it; reasoning is no use; facts that contradict personal prejudices can simply be disbelieved — indeed, the fool can counter by criticizing them, and if they are undeniable, they can be just pushed aside as trivial exceptions.

So the fool, as distinct from the scoundrel, is completely self-satisfied; in fact, he can easily become dangerous, as it does not take much to make him aggressive. A fool must therefore be treated more cautiously than a scoundrel; we shall never again try to convince a fool by reason, for it is both useless and dangerous."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

[Feb 24, 2015] “He did not care for the lying at first. He hated it. Then later he had come to like it. It was part of being an insider, but it was a very corrupting business.” Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

[Feb 24, 2015] "Easy is the descent down to hell;
Its gates stand open, day and night.
But to retrace one's steps, to return
To see again the pure clean air, and cheerfulness and life:
That is the real task, that is our true labour."

Vergil, Aeneid


"The more people rationalize cheating, the more it becomes a culture of dishonesty. And that can become a vicious, downward cycle. Because suddenly, if everyone else is cheating, you feel a need to cheat, too." -- Stephen Covey, The Speed of Trust

"The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality... And they do not ask questions." -- Chris Hedges, The Careerists

Economics is 'a disgraced profession,' what does it matter, when almost all the professions from medicine to law to finance have also given themselves over to the darkness of this world in high places? -- Jamie Galbraith

[Jan 23, 2015] One way to check who is sell-out

James Galbraith: It's one of the old stories. Shaw turned to Lady Astor at a dinner party and said, “Madame, would you sleep with me for a million pounds?”, and she said, “I'd consider it”. Then he said, “How about ten pounds?”, and she said, “What do you think I am?” Then he said, “Well we've established that, now we're just haggling over the price.” Having established that we need the investment program, we can now talk about how to achieve it. Economist's View (was not it attributed to Winston Churchill as well ?)

[Nov 29, 2014] "A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves." ~Henry Ward Beecher

[Nov 17, 2014] Knowledge Without Wisdom

Jesse's Café Américain

“The evil effect of science upon men is principally this, that by far the greatest number of those who wish to display a knowledge of it accomplish no improvement at all of the understanding, but only a perversity of it. It serves most of them as a tool of vanity.”

Immanuel Kant

“Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass”

Chinese Proverb

[Oct 03, 2014] Chutzpah of oligarchy

Chutzpah: shameless audacity; impudence, unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall. Pronunciation: huuts-pah

Robert Johnson at Culture Project's IMPART 2012 Festival

Oligarchy now is audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate. "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."

[Aug 08, 2014] Random findings

[Aug 07, 2014] Random findings

Bertolt Brecht Quotes - iz quotes

Public Debt and Economic Growth There is No ‘Tipping Point’

Economist's View

Sandwichman said in reply to btg...

"these 'zombie' ideas, as Krugman calls them, require some sort of massive public education effort..."

No. "Man is born ignorant; he is not born a fool; and it is not even without labour that he is made one." - Helvetius, "A Treatise on Man: His Intellectual Faculties and His Education" (usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin in the following form: "We are all born ignorant but one must work hard to remain stupid.")

Sandwichman said in reply to Sandwichman...

"The man who knows nothing may learn; it is only requisite to excite in him the desire of knowledge. But he who is falsely learned, and has by degrees lost his reason when he thought to improve it, has purchased his stupidity at too dear a rate ever to renounce it."

Sandwichman said in reply to DrDick...

Ha, ha, ha! You know about that one, then? Will Rogers or Mark Twain or Frank "Kin" Hubbard or Josh Billings or Artemus Ward...

BRIEFING; What Folks Don't Know

By James F. Clarity and Warren Weaver Jr.
New York Times
October 18, 1984

"Various suggestions of authorship emerged after it was reported here that research at the archives of the Will Rogers Memorial, at Claremore, Okla., and elsewhere, could not affirm that Rogers ever said anything resembling what Mr. Mondale attributes to him. The research has continued, and the Library of Congress reports it is still unable to nail down the source. One suggestion says the author is Artemus Ward, a 19th-century American humorist, who supposedly wrote, ''It's not so much what folks don't know that causes problems, it's what they do know that ain't so.'' Others cite Josh Billings, also a 19th-century American humorist, who apparently said it several ways. One of them: ''It is better to know nothing than to know what ain't so.'' Still another attribution is to Frank Hubbard, said to be a 20th century American journalist, who wrote '' 'Taint what a man don't know that hurts him; it's what he knows that just ain't so.'' All of which could lead to the conclusion that it's not so much what was said, as who ain't going to get credit for saying it in the first place."

http://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/18/us/briefing-what-folks-don-t-know.html

[Nov 15, 2013] Random findings

- JFK


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