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When the rich rob the poor it’s called business. When the poor fight it’s called violence. Mark Twain
History will judge societies and governments – and their institutions – not by how big they are or how well they serve the rich and the powerful, but by how effectively they respond to the needs of the poor and the helpless. Cesar Chavez, cited Castillo & Garcia, Cesar Chavez: A Triumph of Spirit, 1997
Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich. Napoleon Bonaparte
Here’s what we can do to change the world right now to a better ride: take all of that money we spend on weapons and defence each year and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, and not one human being excluded, and we can explore space together, both inner and outer, in peace. I believe that God left certain drugs growing naturally upon our planet to help speed up and facilitate our evolution. Bill Hicks, Revelations, Dominion Theatre London
The problem isn’t a lack of money food water or land. The problem is that you’ve given control of these things to a group of greedy psychopaths who care more about maintaining their own power than helping mankind. Bill Hicks
Poor and content is rich, and rich enough,
But riches fineless is as poor as winter
To him that ever fears he shall be poor. William Shakespeare, Othello III iii 176-178, Iago
If they would yield us but the superfluity while it were wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear; the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an inventory to particularise their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes ere we become rakes; for the gods know, I speak this in hunger for bread not in thirst for revenge. William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, first citizen
Will poor folks lie,
That have afflictions on them, knowing, ’tis
A punishment or trial? Yes. No wonder,
When rich ones scarce tell true. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline III vi @9, Innogen
It is said that the children of the very poor are not brought up, but dragged up. Charles Dickens, Bleak House
Respect us, human, and relieve us, poor. Homer, The Odyssey IX i 338
The State provides hand-outs to the poor. Mankind: The Story of All of Us III, History Channel 2012
Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won’t all be poor. John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Men have transformed the world with their knowledge. The short lean wheat has been made big and productive. Little sour apples have grown large and sweet, and that old grape that grew among the trees and fed the big birds has mothered a thousand varieties, red and black, green and pale pink, purple and yellow; and each variety with its own flavour.
The men who work in the experimental farms have made new fruits; nectarines and forty kinds of plums, walnuts with paper shells and always they work, selecting, grafting, changing, driving themselves, driving the earth to produce.
But men who graft the trees and make the seeds fertile and big can find no way to make the hungry eat their produce.
A million people hungry, needing the fruit – and kerosene spread over the golden mountains. And the smell of rot fills the country.
The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back. They come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes flow by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quicklime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze.
And in the eyes of the people there is a failure and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. ibid.
If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones. John Steinbeck
Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours its own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor. Thomas Jefferson, letter 1787
Fear of the mob is a superstitious fear. It is based on the idea that there is some mysterious, fundamental difference between rich and poor, as though they were two different races, like Negroes and white men. But in reality there is no such difference. The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit. Change places, and handy dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Everyone who has mixed on equal terms with the poor knows this quite well. But the trouble is that intelligent, cultivated people, the very people who might be expected to have liberal opinions, never do mix with the poor. For what do the majority of educated people know about poverty? George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London
The educated man pictures a horde of submen, wanting only a day’s liberty to loot his house, burn his books, and set him to work minding a machine or sweeping out a lavatory. ‘Anything,’ he thinks, ‘any injustice, sooner than let that mob loose.’ He does not see that since there is no difference between the mass of rich and poor, there is no question of setting the mob loose. The mob is in fact loose now, and – in the shape of rich men – is using its power to set up enormous treadmills of boredom, such as ‘smart’ hotels. ibid.
And even the distinction between rich and poor dwindles somewhat when one regards the nation from the outside. There is no question about the inequality of wealth in England. It is grosser than in any European country, and you have only to look down the nearest street to see it. Economically, England is certainly two nations, if not three or four. But at the same time the vast majority of the people feel themselves to be a single nation and are conscious of resembling one another more than they resemble foreigners. Patriotism is usually stronger than class-hatred, and always stronger than any kind of internationalism. George Orwell, England Your England I
The train bore me away, through the monstrous scenery of slag-heaps, chimneys, piled scrap-iron, foul canals, paths of cindery mud criss-crossed by the prints of clogs. This was March, but the weather had been horribly cold and everywhere there were mounds of blackened snow. As we moved slowly through the outskirts of the town we passed row after row of little grey slum houses running at right angles to the embankment. At the back of one of the houses a young woman was kneeling on the stones, poking a stick up the leaden waste-pipe which ran from the sink inside and which I suppose was blocked. I had time to see everything about her – her sacking apron, her clumsy clogs, her arms reddened by the cold. She looked up as the train passed, and I was almost near enough to catch her eye. She had a round pale face, the usual exhausted face of the slum girl who is twenty-five and looks forty, thanks to miscarriages and drudgery; and it wore, for the second in which I saw it, the most desolate, hopeless expression I have ever seen. It struck me then that we are mistaken when we say that ‘It isn’t the same for them as it would be for us,’ and that people bred in the slums can imagine nothing but the slums. For what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal. She knew well enough what was happening to her – understood as well as I did how dreadful a destiny it was to be kneeling there in the bitter cold, on the slimy stones of a slum backyard, poking a stick up a foul drain-pipe. George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier
I would rather sit with the rural poor, the desperate children of urban blight, the victims of racism, and working people seeking a better life than with those whose religion is the status quo, whose goal is profit and whose hearts are cold. Douglas Fraser