Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Economics - the theory, study, and practices of how civilization deals with the creation and distribution of wealth and resources. Though all of us are equal in basic goodness, intrinsic value, and buddha nature; differences in skills, intelligence, and motivation vary in the extreme and inevitably create stratified societies that require frequent rebalancing - usually either by political, social, or legislative change. In economic theory, wealth shouldn’t ‘trickle down,’ it should trickle up and stream down. Wealth, innovation, and evolutions are built on the “downs” and they shouldn’t be so easily forgotten when the ups have so much more up. The rich tend to be extremely ungrateful.

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Quotes (79)

“Men keep agreements when it is to the advantage of neither to break them.”

Solon 638 – 558 BCE
Founder of Athenian democracy

“If leaders don't interfere with the seasons of husbandry, grain will be more than can be eaten. If tight nets are banned from pools and ponds, fish and turtles will be more than can be used. If axes and saws can only enter forests at proper times, there will be more wood than can be used.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE via James Legge, Shan Dao
from Book of Mencius 孟子

Themes: Economics

“Firewood is not sold in a forest, fish are not sold near a lake.”

Anonymous -800 to present
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Chinese Proverb​

“I made a great feast in the joss house, but the hungry gods are never satisfied.”

Yunmen Wenyan 雲門文偃 862 – 949 CE
(Ummon Daishi, Yúnmén Wényǎn)
The most eloquent Chan master

Themes: Greed Economics

“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe Me.’”

Hafiz خواجه شمس‌‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی 1315 – 1394 CE via Daniel Ladinsky
(Hafez, Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad)
Inspiring friend to the true and free human spirit

“Merchants are the biggest fools of all—they will lie, perjure themselves, steal, cheat, and mislead the public. Nevertheless they are highly respected because of their money.”

Erasmus 1466 – 1536 CE
(Desiderius Roterodamus)
"Greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance"
from Praise of Folly

“Money is a great servant but a bad master.”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE

44. Fame and Fortune

“Don't think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Money Economics

44. Fame and Fortune

“Trade in general being nothing else but the exchange of labor for labor, the value of all things is most justly measured by labor.”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE

“I have never seen the Philosopher’s Stone that turns lead into Gold, but I have known the pursuit of it turn a Man’s Gold into Lead.”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE
from Poor Richard's Almanack

53. Shameless Thieves

“Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.”

Thomas Jefferson 1743 – 1826 CE
from Letters

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Economics

44. Fame and Fortune

“Everything which is properly business we must keep carefully separate from life. Business requires earnestness and method; life must have a freer handling.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE
from Elective Affinities (1809)

“Society [culture] is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness. Society is a blessing; government even in its best state a necessary evil, a tyranny; and because—even in its best state—an evil, we should have as little of it as the general peace of human society will permit.”

William Godwin 1756 – 1836 CE
Provocative and influential social, political, and literary critic
from Enquiry Concerning Political Justice

“The freest government cannot long endure when the tendency of the law is to create a rapid accumulation of property in the hands of a few, and to render the masses poor and dependent.”

Daniel Webster 1782 – 1852 CE
America's greatest orator
from The Cry for Justice, Sinclair

“Wealth is nowhere more at home than in the merchant class because merchants look upon money only as a means of further gain, just as a workman regards his tools so they try to preserve and increase it by using it.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via T. Bailey Saunders
from Wisdom of Life

“In nature, nothing can be given, all things are sold.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

“In democracies, nothing is more great or more brilliant than commerce: it attracts the attention of the public, and fills the imagination of the multitude; all energetic passions are directed toward it.”

Alexis de Tocqueville 1805 – 1859 CE
Pioneering researcher into the conflicts between freedom and equality
from Democracy in America (1835-9)

“The subordination of labor to capital is the source of all slavery: political, moral, and material.”

Mikhail Bakunin 1814 – 1876 CE
Romantic rebel, revolutionary anarchist, founding father of modern socialism
from Gesammelte Werke

“The method of production of material things generally determines the social, political, and spiritual currents of life.”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE
from Critique of Political Economy, 1859

Themes: Economics

“To sum up: the more productive capital grows, the more it extends the division of labour and the application of machinery; the more the division of labour and the application of machinery extend, the more does competition extend among the workers, the more do their wages shrink together... the more he works, the more he competes against his fellow workmen, the more he compels them to compete against him, and to offer themselves on the same wretched conditions as he does so that, in the last analysis, he competes against himself as a member of the working class.”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE
from Wage-Labour and Capital/Value

“In a community regulated by laws of demand and supply... those who become rich are—generally speaking—industrious, resolute, proud, covetous, prompt, methodical, sensible, unimaginative, insensitive, and ignorant.”

John Ruskin 1819 – 1900 CE
from Ad Valorem

“There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey.”

John Ruskin 1819 – 1900 CE

“That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest numbers of noble and happy human beings”

John Ruskin 1819 – 1900 CE

“The whole history of mankind—since the dissolution of primitive tribal society that held land in common—has been a history of class struggles, contests between exploiting and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes and has now reached a stage where emancipation cannot be achieved without once and for all emancipating society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class distinctions and class struggles.”

Friedrich Engels 1820 – 1895 CE
Businessman-philosopher, political theorist
from Preface to Communist Manifesto, 1888

“The supposed right of landed property now lies at the foundation not only of economic misery, but also of political disorder and—above all—the moral deprivation of the people.”

Leo Tolstoy 1828 – 1910 CE

Themes: Economics

“For property is robbery, but then, we are all robbers or would-be robbers together, and have found it essential to organize our thieving, as we have found it necessary to organize our lust and our revenge. Property, marriage, the law; as the bed to the river, so rule and convention to the instinct; and woe to him who tampers with the banks while the flood is flowing.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Erewhon

“[belief in] the immortality of the soul... was immoral... it would distract men's minds from the perfecting of this world's economy, and was an impatient cutting of the Gordian knot of life's problems”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Erewhon

“Everyone lives by selling something.”

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894 CE

“The Divine Economy is automatic and very simple: we receive only that which we give.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE
from A Thousand and One Epigrams

Themes: Economics

“I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds, and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity.”

Rabindranath Tagore 1861 – 1941 CE

78. Water

“Advertising is legalized lying.”

H. G. Wells 1866 – 1946 CE
A father of science fiction and One World Government apostle

Themes: Lies Economics

“Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.”

Willa Cather 1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

from On Writing

Themes: Economics Art

“Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident… they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

46. Enough

“It is only when the maker of things is a maker of things by vocation, and not merely holding down a job, that the price of things is approximate to their real value...”

Ananda Coomaraswamy குமாரசுவாமி 1877 – 1947 CE
Perennial philosophy's Citizen of the World

Themes: Economics

“if a government is to be prudent, its taxes must produce ample revenues without discouraging enterprise; and if it is to be just, it must distribute the burden of taxes equitably.”

Franklin Roosevelt 1882 – 1945 CE
Champion and creator of a more just and equitable society

Themes: Economics

“If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has.”

John Maynard Keynes 1883 – 1946 CE
Revolutionary economist credited with saving capitalism

Themes: Economics

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers are much more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. [Most] are usually slaves of some defunct economist.”

John Maynard Keynes 1883 – 1946 CE
Revolutionary economist credited with saving capitalism

Themes: Economics

“Every advance in the complexity of the economy puts an added premium upon superior ability, and intensifies the concentration of wealth, responsibility, and political power... Economic freedom, even in the middle classes, become more and more exceptional, making political freedom a consolatory pretense.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Lessons of History

“It was to meet the challenge of communism, as well as to end a critical depression, that Franklin Roosevelt, in the most brilliant statesmanship of the 20th century, devised the welfare state.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Economics

“Powerful economic motives must have favored the evolution of marriage. In all probability... connected with the rising institution of property.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Our Oriental Heritage

“History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them.”

B.R. Ambedkar 1891 – 1956 CE

“All the present bureaucracies of political governments, great religious organizations, and all big businesses find that physical success for all humanity would be devastating to the perpetuation of their ongoing activities.”

Buckminster Fuller 1895 – 1983 CE

58. Goals Without Means

“It is not possible for this nation to be at once politically internationalist and economically isolationist. This is just as insane as asking one Siamese twin to high dive while the other plays the piano.”

Adlai Stevenson 1900 – 1965 CE
from Speech, 1952

“In 1946, Oxford University in England was offered large funds to create a new Institute of Human Nutrition. The University refused the funds on the ground that the knowledge of human nutrition was essentially complete, and that the proposed institution would soon run out of meaningful research projects.”

René Dubos 1901 – 1982 CE
Influential scientific environmentalist

“In 1946, Oxford University in England was offered large funds to create a new Institute of Human Nutrition. The University refused the funds on the ground that the knowledge of human nutrition was essentially complete, and that the proposed institution would soon run out of meaningful research projects.”

René Dubos 1901 – 1982 CE
Influential scientific environmentalist

“Just as men cannot escape taking on collective responsibility for peace, neither can they escape taking on collective responsibility for economic plenty.”

Max Lerner 1902 – 1992 CE
(Maxwell Alan)
from Acttions and Passions, 1949​

Themes: Economics

“I write for one and only one purpose, to overcome the invincible ignorance of the traduced heart. […] I wish to speak to and for those who have had enough of the Social Lie, the Economics of Mass Murder, the Sexual Hoax, and the Domestication of Conspicuous Consumption.”

Kenneth Rexroth 1905 – 1982 CE
"Father of the Beats”

“No one is really working for peace unless he is working primarily for the restoration of wisdom… From an economic point of view, the central concept of wisdom is permanence. We must study an economics of permanence.”

E. F. Schumacher 1911 – 1977 CE
The “People's Economist”

78. Water

“The ownership and the consumption of goods is a means to an end, and Buddhist economics is the systematic study of how to attain given ends with the minimum means.”

E. F. Schumacher 1911 – 1977 CE
The “People's Economist”
from Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered

Themes: Economics

58. Goals Without Means

“It might be said that it is the ideal of the employer to have production without employees and the ideal of the employee is to have income without work.”

E. F. Schumacher 1911 – 1977 CE
The “People's Economist”

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“Without work, all life goes rotten but when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.”

Albert Camus 1913 – 1960 CE via E.F. Schumacher

“true happiness does not arise from things... economists should hurry and set up an economy of happiness... a field of economic theory which throws out current economic notions that things have value, and is founded instead on the principle that things do not have value.”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE
from Road Back to Nature

Themes: Economics

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

John Kennedy 1917 – 1963 CE
Modern America's most popular president

“Economic growth without social progress lets the great majority of the people remain in poverty while a privileged few reap the benefits of rising abundance.”

John Kennedy 1917 – 1963 CE
Modern America's most popular president

from Message to Congress, 1961

“Take most people, they're crazy about cars. They worry if they get a little scratch on them, and... if they get a brand-new car already they start thinking about trading it in for one that's even newer... I'd rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God's sake.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Catcher in the Rye

“We are at war with ourselves, with the environment, and with others. It is a matter of overcoming the old ways of thinking and the old premises of being, including our economic and political structures. The old competitive market economy and the old political parties, representing special selfish interests, will give way to a co-operative global community.”

Ralph Alan Dale 1920 – 2006 CE
Translator, author, visionary
from Tao Te Ching, a new translation and commentary

“Only merchants have money to waste, and what are they but parasites who create nothing, grow nothing, make nothing but feed off another's labor?”

James Clavell 1921 – 1994 CE
Fictionalizing and fictional historian
from Shōgun, 1975

Themes: Economics

“Let's talk about socialism. I think it's very important to bring back the idea of socialism into the national discussion to where it was at the turn of the [last] century before the Soviet Union gave it a bad name. Socialism had a good name... It had several million people reading socialist newspapers. Socialism basically said, hey, let's have a kinder, gentler society. Let's share things. Let's have an economic system that produces things not because they're profitable for some corporation, but produces things that people need. People should not be retreating from the word socialism because you have to go beyond capitalism.”

Howard Zinn 1922 – 2010 CE
Historian of the oppressed and defeated

“If being a communist or being a capitalist or being a socialist is a crime, first you have to study which of those systems is the most criminal. And then you'll be slow to say which one should be in jail.”

Malcolm X الحاجّ مالك الشباز‎‎ 1925 – 1965 CE
from Malcolm X Speaks, 1965

Themes: Economics

“Worthless money, worthless article purchased; it has a sort of logic to it.”

Philip K. Dick 1928 – 1982 CE
Legendary consciousness provocateur
from Ubik

“From the divine right of kings through the deadly teachings of Hitler and Mao to the mumbojumbo of economists, government by theory has done endless ill.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE
from Lao Tzu - A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way

“'Selling our souls to the devil' is just a dramatic way of saying 'trading our time for money.'”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

“The future of business? – A faster and faster transition from the mechanical, rote, and unskilled to the innovative, educated and personal as technology, computers, and robots assume bigger and bigger roles.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

“A corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance.”

Wendell Berry 1934 CE –

Themes: Money Economics

53. Shameless Thieves

“When the mind and heart are undeveloped or corrupt, no laws or economic system, however wisely conceived, can bring about the Good... Without this inner aim, economics turns us into consumers, rather than creators.”

​ Jacob Needleman 1934 CE –
American religious scholar, historian, philosopher, and author
from American Soul

“Man sacrifices his health in order to make money Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

44. Fame and Fortune

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”

George Carlin 1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

72. Helpful Fear

“Money doesn't talk, it swears.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –

46. Enough

“Our economic system promotes and requires greed in at least two ways: desire for profit is necessary to fuel the engine of economic growth and consumers must be insatiable in order to maintain markets for what can be produced.”

David Loy 1947 CE –
from A Buddhist History of the West

“Competition gone to extremes becomes conflict... the economic cost of war translates directly into human cost above and beyond that of the dead, wounded, widowed, and orphaned”

Thomas Cleary 1949 CE –
from Wen-Tzu Understanding the mysteries (1991)

“If an understanding of biology can sometimes make us feel we are the victims of our inheritance, an understanding of economics shows that we an adapt the inheritance to shape our future.”

Paul Seabright 1958 CE –
Author and British Professor of Economics
from War of the Sexes

Themes: Economics

“The annual cost of obesity alone is now twice as large as the fast food industry’s total revenues.”

Eric Schlosser 1959 CE –
Investigative journalist and author.
from Fast Food Nation (2001)

Themes: Economics

“It is precisely the American economy that has dumbed so many down.”

Nina Lvovna Khrushcheva Нина Львовна Хрущёва 1964 CE –

“The lie that happiness is about borrowing money you haven’t got to buy crap you don’t need”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Bone Clocks

53. Shameless Thieves

“guided by the principle of protecting humans rather than jobs... we need to develop new social and economic models as soon as possible... Many jobs are uninspiring drudgery and are not worth saving. Nobody's life's dream is to be a cashier.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

“There is just no such thing as 'Christian economics,' 'Muslim economics,' or 'Hindu economics.' ... When you compare the economic policies of Shiite Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia, Jewish Israel, Hindu India, and Christian America, you just don't see that much of a difference.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Themes: Economics

“The food surpluses produced by peasants, coupled with new transportation technology, eventually enabled more and more people to cram together first into large villages, then into towns, and finally into cities, all of them joined together by new kingdoms and commercial networks.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Sapiens

Themes: Economics

“It reflects a reversion to the old idea that the tree can be fertilized at the top instead of at the bottom — the old trickle-down theory.”

Harry S. Truman 1884 – 1972 CE

Themes: Economics


Wealth of Nations

by Adam Smith

''The Father of Economic Capitalism"

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