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I work for a government I despise for ends I think criminal. John Maynard Keynes
In truth the gold standard is already a barbarous relic. John Maynard Keynes, Monetary Reform 1924 p172
This is a nightmare, which will pass away with the morning. For the resources of nature and men’s devices are just as fertile and productive as they were. The rate of our progress towards solving the material problems of life is not less rapid. John Maynard Keynes, re great depression
The love of money as a possession – as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life – will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease ... But beware! The time for all this is not yet. John Maynard Keynes
The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war is not a success. It is not intelligent. It is not beautiful. It is not just. It is not virtuous. And it doesn’t deliver the goods. In short we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed. John Maynard Keynes
The day is not far off when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the heart and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems – the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behaviour and religion. John Maynard Keynes
The immense accumulations of fixed capital which, to the great benefit of mankind, were built up during the half century before the war, could never have come about in a Society where wealth was divided equitably. John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace 1919
Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become ‘profiteers’, who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.
Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose. ibid. VI: 235-236 1919
Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable. John Maynard Keynes, The End of Laissez-Faire 1926
Economics is a very dangerous science. John Maynard Keynes
We should not conclude from this that everything depends on waves of irrational psychology. On the contrary, the state of long-term expectation is often steady, and, even when it is not, the other factors exert their compensating effects. We are merely reminding ourselves that human decisions affecting the future, whether personal or political or economic, cannot depend on strict mathematical expectation, since the basis for making such calculations does not exist; and that it is our innate urge to activity which makes the wheels go round, our rational selves choosing between the alternatives as best we are able, calculating where we can, but often falling back for our motive on whim or sentiment or chance. John Maynard Keynes, ‘The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money’
We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession. And increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists. And that in so far as it ever did exist it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy on every occasion followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step. Jim Callaghan, Labour Party Conference September 1976
Both the existing economic order, and too many of the projects advanced for restructuring it, break down through their neglect of the truism that, since even quite common men have souls, no increase in material wealth will compensate them for arrangements which insult their self-respect and impair their freedom. A reasonable estimate of economic organisation must allow for the fact that, unless industry is to be paralysed by recurrent revolts on the part of outraged human nature, it must satisfy criteria which are not purely economic. R H Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, 1926
Well here we are again back in the warm comforting arms of the good old British recession. You know, I stood here thirty year ago in the dole and Norman Tebbit told me to get on my bike. Now, well they give me a classroom chair. That’s what three decades of the slump/boom economy has done for me. I now get lectured sitting down instead of standing up. (Economics & Unemployment) Rab C Nesbitt: Fogue, BBC 2011
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations 1776
The chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches. ibid.
Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. ibid.
To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people as customers, may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers, but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers. ibid.
Consumption is the sole end and purpose of production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the customer. ibid.
The mistake you make, don’t you see, is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? You’re trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can’t. One’s got to change the system, or one changes nothing. One can’t put things right in a hole-and-corner way, if you take my meaning. George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying
Economic problems are not formulated clearly and are often stated in such vague terms as to make mathematical treatment a priori appear hopeless because it is quite uncertain what the problems really are. John von Neumann & Oskar Morgenstern
Teach a parrot the terms ‘supply and demand’ and you've got an economist. Thomas Carlyle
No real English gentleman, in his secret soul, was ever sorry for the death of a political economist. Walter Bagehot