Labor organizations are formed, not to employ combined effort for a common object, but to indulge in declamation and denunciation, and especially to furnish an easy living to some officers who do not want to work.

— William Graham Sumner

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Great captains of industry are as rare as great generals

65

If we put together all that we have learned from anthropology and ethnography about primitive men and primitive society, we perceive that the first task of life is to live. Men begin with acts, not with thoughts.

53

If I want to be free from any other man's dictation, I must understand that I can have no other man under my control.

50

The type and formula of most schemes of philanthropy or humanitarianism is this: A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D. . . . I call C the Forgotten Man.

28

All history is only one long story to this effect: men have struggled for power over their fellow-men in order that they might win the joys of earth at the expense of others and might shift the burdens of life from their own shoulders upon those of others.

26

A drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be.

..The law of survival of the fittest was not made by man, and it cannot be abrogated by man. We can only, by interfering with it, produce the survival of the unfittest.

17

Undoubtedly there are, in connection with each of these things, cases of fraud, swindling, and other financial crimes; that is to say, the greed and selfishness of men are perpetual.

14

The criminal law needs to be improved to meet new forms of crime, but to denounce financial devices which are useful and legitimate because use is made of them for fraud, is ridiculous and unworthy of the age in which we live.

13

It is the tendency of the social burdens to crush out the middle class, and to force society into an organization of only two classes, one at each social extreme.

11

A drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be, according to the fitness and tendency of things. Nature has set upon him the process of decline and dissolution by which she removes things which have survived their usefulness.

10

Any one who believes that any great enterprise of an industrial character can be started without labor must have little experience of life.

7

There is no boon in nature. All the blessings we enjoy are the fruits of labor, toil, self-denial, and study.

7

About William Graham Sumner

Quotes 88 sayings
Nationality American
Profession Businessman
Birthday October 16

The State cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man who has produced and saved it. This latter is the Forgotten Man

7

The forgotten man... He works, he votes, generally he prays, but his chief business in life is to pay.

6

A wiser rule would be to make up your mind soberly what you want, peace or war, and then to get ready for what you want; for what we prepare for is what we shall get.

6

The class distinctions simply result from the different degrees of success with which men have availed themselves of the chances which were presented to them. Instead of endeavoring to redistribute the acquisitions which have been made between the existing classes, our aim should be to increase, multiply, and extend the chances.

5

A good father believes that he does wisely to encourage enterprise, productive skill, prudent self-denial, and judicious expenditure on the part of his son.

5

Who is the Forgotten Man? He is the clean, quiet, virtuous, domestic citizen, who pays his debts and his taxes and is never heard of out of his little circle.

4

The great force for forging a society into a solid mass has always been war.

4

Men never cling to their dreams with such tenacity as at the moment when they are losing faith in them, and know it, but do not dare yet to confess it to themselves.

4

I have lived through the best years of this country's history.

The next generations are going to see war and social calamities. I am glad I don't have to live on into them.

4

The men who start out with the notion that the world owes them a living generally find that the world pays its 'debt' in the penitentiary or the poor house.

3

It is remarkable that jealousy of individual property in land often goes along with very exaggerated doctrines of tribal or national property in land.

3

Everywhere you go on the continent of Europe at this hour you see the conflict between militarism and industrialism. You see the expansion of industrial power pushed forward by the energy, hope, and thrift of men, and you see the development arrested, diverted, crippled, and defeated by measures which are dictated by military considerations.

3

I have before me a newspaper slip on which a writer expresses the opinion that no one should be allowed to possess more than one million dollars' worth of property.

3

History is only a tiresome repetition of one story.

3

It is often said that the earth belongs to the race, as if raw land was a boon, or gift.

3

I never have known a man of ordinary common-sense who did not urge upon his sons, from earliest childhood, doctrines of economy and the practice of accumulation.

3

We throw all our attention on the utterly idle question whether A has done as well as B, when the only question is whether A has done as well as he could.

3

Civil liberty is the status of the man who is guaranteed by law and civil institutions the exclusive employment of all his own powers for his own welfare.

3

Moreover, there is an unearned increment on capital and on labor, due to the presence, around the capitalist and the laborer, of a great, industrious, and prosperous society.

3

The real danger of democracy is, that the classes which have the power under it will assume all the rights and reject all the duties-that is, that they will use the political power to plunder those-who-have.

3

Men educated in [the critical habit of thought]are slow to believe.

They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain.

3

It is a beneficent incident of the ownership of land that a pioneer who reduces it to use, and helps to lay the foundations of a new State, finds a profit in the increasing value of land as the new State grows up.

3

The lobby is the army of the plutocracy.

2

It used to be believed that the parent had unlimited claims on the child and rights over him. In a truer view of the matter, we are coming to see that the rights are on the side of the child and the duties on the side of the parent.

2

The truth is that cupidity, selfishness, envy, malice, lust, vindictiveness, are constant vices of human nature.

2

It would be hard to find a single instance of a direct assault by positive effort upon poverty, vice, and misery which has not either failed or, if it has not failed directly and entirely, has not entailed other evils greater than the one which it removed.

2

The yearning after equality [in economic outcome] is the offspring of envy and covetousness, and there is no possible plan for satisfying that yearning which can do aught else than rob A to give to B; consequently all such plans nourish some of the meanest vices of human nature, waste capital, and overthrow civilization.

2

Here we are, then, once more back at the old doctrine - Laissez faire.

Let us translate it into blunt English, and it will read, Mind your own business. It is nothing but the doctrine of liberty. Let every man be happy in his own way.

0

It is not the function of the State to make men happy.

They must make themselves happy in their own way, and at their own risk. The functions of the State lie entirely in the conditions or chances under which the pursuit of happiness is carried on.

0

The waste of capital, in proportion to the total capital, in this country between 1800 and 1850, in the attempts which were made to establish means of communication and transportation, was enormous.

0

But we have inherited a vast number of social ills which never came from Nature.

They are the complicated products of all the tinkering, muddling, and blundering of social doctors in the past.

0

The taxing power is especially something after which the reformer's finger always itches.

0

What is the real relation between happiness and goodness? It is only within a few generations that men have found courage to say that there is none.

0

The millionaires are a product of natural selection .

.. the naturally selected agents of society for certain work. They get high wages and live in luxury, but the bargain is a good one for society.

0

If any student of social science comes to appreciate the case of the Forgotten Man, he will become an unflinching advocate of strict scientific thinking in sociology, and a hard-hearted skeptic as regards any scheme of social amelioration. He will always want to know, Who and where is the Forgotten Man in this case, who will have to pay for it all?

0

Yet we are constantly annoyed, and the legislatures are kept constantly busy, by the people who have made up their minds that it is wise and conducive to happiness to live in a certain way, and who want to compel everybody else to live in their way.

0

We shall find that every effort to realize equality necessitates a sacrifice of liberty.

0
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