"The fact is that there is a serious danger of this country becoming a pluto-democracy; that is, a sham republic with the real government in the hands of a small clique of enormously wealthy men, who speak through their money, and whose influence, even today, radiates to every corner of the United States."
by:
William Gibbs McAdoo
(1863-1941) US Senator (D-CA), Secretary of Treasury, President Wilson's national campaign vice-chairman
Source:
in Crowded Years (1974)
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What else is new. ;-)
 -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Why is it that I'm always told by Republicans and wealthy men that debt doesn't matter - I thought they are meant to be conservative
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    ... and here is the real fear, not taxes that go to support those in need, but taxes that go to support the military industrial complex, owned and run by and for the "enormously wealthy"... the USofA, government by the enormously wealthy for the enormously wealthy...
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    ...and here is the real fear-- that the same people that tax for the "military industrial complex" are also deciding where the tax goes to "support those in need." If a small group of men cannot be trusted with the people's money, but are spending it on the "military industrial complex," what makes you think they can tax the people's "charity," and be trusted to actually "support those in need"? There doesn't exist, nor can there be implemented, enough checks and balances to keep government honest when it comes to the people's "charity." Look at what they have done to Social Security. Government has absolutely no place in the business in the re-distribution of money-- Government, having the "legal" and physical power of unlawful coercion, cannot, by any de jure means, collect on people's charity or compassion-- Charity and compassion are what they are because they are established on choice. The charitable man didn't HAVE to give the beggar a job, but he did anyway. If this same man were forced to give the beggar a job, against his own free-will and choice, would it then be a charitable or a compassionate act? No. However, because such words are used, such as: charity, compassion, patriot (patriot act), and intelligence (intelligence act)-- uninformed people automatically think these are good things; after all, who would argue against being charitable and compassionate to the needy? Or being a patriot to his country; furthermore, what uninformed and ignorant person would actually argue against something labeled "intelligence"? Just because something is called by a particular name, doesn't mean it abides by its definition.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Well Logan, it seems to work well enough in all of the European social democracies - mostly honest, mostly altruistic members of the various parliaments carrying out their duties to improve life for the majority of their citizens with the minimum of cronyism and fraud and corruption. And they mostly athiests. Why is it that only in massively "Christian" America the will of Jesus cannot be carried out by government but instead those very "Christians" are the most rapacious thieves ever seen in history? It can be done, and it can be done in a way that still allows for hard work and entrepreneurship to be well rewarded an does not have government in the pockets of big corporations. Its easy - just have government exactly in the middle but slightly to the left, then all government decisions will have a very slight bias towards the people and not the corporations. When the greed is the only motivation of a society then those most greedy will be most successfull, and unfortunately, the USA is proud to be the worlds greediest country.
     -- Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada     
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     -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood      
    Simon, you're right - In Social Democracies, Socialism excells - but at what cost? The United States is NOT a democracy (or it shouldn't be by our Constitution), but is a Republic. I'm not going to argue the difference here; however, it's not a very strong argument to use "European social democracies" as your example. France, for example, being one of the most socialist countries, is having a hard time keeping their people working. It is nearly impossible to fire anyone from their job in France; it's so hard, in fact, that many people don't even show up for work... If this weren't enough, the people are starting to realize that they can get as much from the government in socialized welfare as they can if they were to work a solid 8 hour day; because of this, more and more people are going on welfare under suspicious ailments. Furthermore, to labal "Christians" as "the most rapacious thieves ever seen in history" is gross speculation. How do you know this? Have you talked to the majority of the "most rapacious theieves ever seen in history"? The USA just may be the proudest nation in the world-- it unarguably created the greatest wealth, success, progress, and contribution to everything from health and science to economics and the standard of living. How has the USA done so? The USA grew to power because man was able to be completely free to work, without restraint or coercion, towards his own destiny. He wasn't forced to take care of duties and responsibilities that weren't his. Socialists will argue that all Capitalists are greedy and selfish--- as Terry would so aptly put it -- ROT!! How is it, Simon, that in Capitalist America, even our poor have a better standard of living than the middle-class of some Socialist nations? To want to be left alone is not greedy! To want to work only for oneself is not selfishness. Perhaps the USA actually has something to be proud of, eh?
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    The military-industrial-complex is not funded by taxpayers -- it is funded by the Federal Reserve with a nearly unlimited credit line. "Endless money forms the sinews of war." -- Marcus Tullius Cicero
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Whoa logan! I was only addressing the issue of governments being able to deliver social services to the underclass that was the main point of your previous statements - it can be done. There are many great things about the US system including its ability to generate great wealth and create great scientific innovations but this is could be done with or without having a decent social safety net. Having the one does not depend on not having the other. And please don't confuse "Socialism" with "Liberalism" or "Socail Democracy". Conservatives seem to think that the only alternative to rank greed and the magic hand of the free market is some watered down version of Stalinism. I abhor that as much as you do. We in Canada and the western european nations do not think of ourselves as Socialists. I just beleive the USA would do very well to take the free market out of certain things - like the health care system - thereby freeing up trillions of dollars that currently enrich the already rich to give basic health care to everyone. There is the whole other argument too that for all its great wealth and innovation, the USA and its lifestyle are only hastening the end of life on this planet. Again it comes down to greed. If the motivation of a society was to look after the planet and the least of its members I believe even more can be achieved. People are not naturally lazy and seeking to be looked after by their governments.
     -- Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada     
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    As to thieves - there is no other word for the current US Government - it is owned by the corporations, its policies are written by the corporations, its only purpose is to maintain its own power and enrich those who are in power. Literally trillions of dollars are being stolen from the American people and the rest of the planet in the greates theft in the history of mankind. Don't believe me?
     -- Simon, Victoria     
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    ...and they are not happy just stealing from the current generation of americans but they have put your country so deeply in debt it will be your children, grand children and great grandchildren who will have to pay it back, assuming civilization lasts that long.
     -- Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada     
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    "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." -- Thomas Jefferson
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Logan; 'ROT' - LOL Well, since my name's been invoked, ('the tiniest excuse will do quite nicely, thank you very much' he said leerily looking over his shoulder) here goes. - Oh yeah, let's not do the 'Military Intelligence' skit just now - OK? - It's Sacred Cow Ostrich- tipping time! <;}

    "Charity and compassion are what they are because they are established on choice. The charitable man didn't HAVE to give the beggar a job, but he did anyway."
    I take it that no one attentive to the actual history of societies in general would call that 'gross speculation' - lol - probably because it's pure fantasy. Would that there were such consistency of compassion in human nature.

    As you said, "However, because such words are used, such as: charity, compassion, ... Just because something is called by a particular name, doesn't mean it abides by its definition."

    Although the SSA's 'mission statement' does say that their mission is "To advance the economic security of the nation’s people through compassionate and vigilant leadership in shaping and managing America's Social Security programs.", 'personal' compassion is hardly an aspect of the debate over or about the Social Security Act. I do believe that it's you who've attached 'charity' to the issue of Social Security to bolster your premise. - We're not talking about 'charity' or compassion when we talk about Social security. Neither 'charity' nor compassion have, in fact, anything to do with Social Security - nothing. Confusing or equating 'charity' and/or compassion with Social Security is a bit like confusing or equating affection for (romantic or not) with responsibility (to/for) - a common confusion which tends to abate with the accumulation of experience. While affection may accompany responsibility, there's no requirement that either of the two ever accompany the other.

    What we are talking about when we talk about Social Security is a social compact aimed at avoiding the kinds of situations that made Charles Dickens famous when writing about the social injustices prevalent in the 1800s, foisted on those least able to withstand them during times when 'charity' was voluntary, compassion was in short supply (not much changes), and the churches still had good control of most of the population in almost every nation on earth (some things do change despite the best efforts of the clergy). There will be those reading this who will say "But this isn't Britain in the 1800s". No, it isn't Britain in the 1800s. We're not talking about the Britain of that time. We're talking about human nature as relates to the less fortunate of the society they live in - at any time.

    How well did 'charity' and compassion work during the Irish potato famine?

    Ah, the good old days when 'charity' and compassion worked so well towards our lower classes (in every country, at all times), as it did for the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia not to mention towards the slaves we were justified in holding! How we do miss 'them good ole days'.

    "... to labal (label) "Christians" as "the most rapacious thieves ever seen in history" is gross speculation."
    There's plenty of history to substantiate that Christians can credibly lay claim to that title: The 'Crusades' stand out in that category. The 'taking' of indigenous lands (our 'country' being only one) probably falls into that category. The subsequent enslavement of the indigenous populations of the Americas followed by their near extermination followed by the importation of new slaves from Africa might, just might, fall into that category. The imperialism of the 19th and 20th century by not only the 'Christian' nations of Europe who plundered the Middle East, Africa, and India, but also of the US (who dominated and plundered Hawaii, Puerto Rico, The Phillipines, Cuba, and, oh yeah, 'freed' Texas from Mexico) might, in the minds of the people of the countries that were dominated and/or plundered, be viewed as motivated by thievery. I know, I know ... it was for their own good (not much changes).

    How is it, Simon, that in Capitalist America, even our poor have a better standard of living than the middle-class of some Socialist nations?
    Well, it has been so for the last 60 or so 'socialistic' years hasn't it? Those were also, coincidentally, the post WWII years when almost all of the 'industrialized' nations except the US were still fully recovering from the war and we were in a position to be able to 'harvest' enormous natural resources at minuscule costs from around the globe with hardly anyone able to object. It's a new day on that count. How's your gas bill these days? How's your food bill? We indeed have a lot to be proud of. Social Security is part of that equation. Corporate control of our government is not. Simon has a valid point - several actually.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     

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    Logan, Just for the sake of reference:
    Pride: An excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit. - Arrogant or disdainful conduct or treatment; haughtiness. - To indulge (oneself) in a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction. - AHD

    The Books of Proverbs, chapter 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     

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    Oh yeah, why exactly are Canadian Pharmacy purchases so popular with Americans of limited means? Fergodssake let's not take advantage of their system since our's is so superior.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    McAdoo, astute in the obvious: wheewhh, so much hmmmmm? It is true that the U.S. was once a Representative Republic of We the People as outlined by a Christian Based Constitution. As you can tell a true Christian by his deeds (charitable, not-charitable, etc. and not always by his mouth), so you can understand a freeman from a slave. As the de-facto Democratic Oligarchy progresses in the U.S., so does the military industrial complex's influence, oppression of the individual, and destruction of the nation. Immigration ills, high drug prices, monitary woes, and military adventurism, would all be corrected if the U.S. would but return to a Christian Based Constitutional Republic instead of the mob's might makes right Democratic Oligarchy.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Religious governments have ALWAYS been inimical to Liberty. The problem with a so-called 'Christian Republic' is the same as with a Jewish or Islamic state -- it doesn't leave room for the 'unbelievers'. Today's Christians would hardly consider Jefferson, Paine, and Franklin among their ranks. Christianity has a long way to go before the tenets of Christ are actually adhered to by its devotees. In the mean time, give the heathens a break. Buddhists, Hindus, Sufis, and thousands of other religious orders have their rights, too -- as well as those who define the Creator differently than Pat Robertson. While Christ's doctrine was Love, among the Christians in powerful seats of government today there is little expression of that love except in the form of bombing the infidels into submission and endless praise for the police state. Sounds just like the Christians of old. The de facto Democratic Oligarchy is 90% Christian -- so how have they helped America? Why do they continue to bow to the almighty Federal Reserve Note? Why do they indenture us into perpetual economic slavery? Why have they given away their own power to foreign governors? So Christians are no more capable of defending Liberty than non-Christians. And stop blaming the Jews and Muslims and Mexicans for America's woes. There is a price for American hypocrisy -- and we are paying for it through the nose. When we are ready to admit that we are full of sh_t, then we will finally be making the shift needed to get this Republic back on the road. But if there is no room for Mexicans (i.e. those pesky old native American 'Indians' we did not manage to kill off), no room for other faiths, no room for agnostics, free thinkers, and heretics, then the American Dream is a sham. It is time to wake up, America. We have confused power with greatness.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    In other words, a "Christian Based" Constitution is the solution to all problems. Right! I think I saw that gum-wrapper motto recently too. Now, that's great humor.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    E. Archer; (in reference to 'Christian Based Constitution' and other fictions) In the interest of offering a possible analytical perspective on the advocacy of any religion/ideology (I defy anyone to distinguish the two from each other both in their functionality and fictionality, one fiction being that 'mine' is religion' and 'yours' is ideology or mythology) as a 'solution' to any problem I'd like to offer the following (asserted as dogma, to be read as grist for the mill) for you're your consideration. The advocating of a religion as an answer to anything is always an indication of only one thing: the person advocating a religion/ideology (any religion or ideology including all of the '-isms' and '-ities' ) as such a solution, has either run out of, or has never had, any practical solutions to offer to issues/situations they have limited comprehension of, or experience with. You don't offer "That wouldn't be a problem if you only had faith" or "It wouldn't be a problem if we only went back to a Christian Based Constitution" or "It's in God's hands" or "We must pray for 'X'" or "Our moral decline has caused that." as a reply to "We're out of hamburger relish" because you've probably figured out an actual solution to the 'no-relish' problem. It's the 'problems' for which we have no current solutions that are favored for relegation to the universe of the supernatural and fictitious (religion/ideology). That's how 'Intelligent Design' manages to appeal to 'non-scientific' ideologues. They can't imagine that a 'void' in our current understanding of evolution might be temporary so they resort to the idea that the whole thing is too complex to be understood (which may be true for them). They live in an illusion that the world is somehow more 'fixed' than that which evolution would allow. Our Bible is not an evolving document. It's fixed. They've not read enough history and sometimes haven't gotten out enough. Hello -- what year is it? Advocating religion/ideology as a solution to any problem is the sleaziest possible form of abrogating all personal responsibility towards finding an actual solution to that issue or problem. The appeal, of ideological trite-isms as 'answers' to problems, is that they are fixed, easy, simple and vague. They 'fix' the world into one easy, unchanging paradigm. Falling prey to that appeal is the amber coffin of the fly - it's pretty and decorative. These trite-isms are the hallmark both of a lack of thought, and a finely honed ear and talent for parroting. They are that 'fixed compass' (like the highly touted 'moral compass' we all love so much) that obviates the need to evaluate (evaluation uses too much energy for some tastes) each situation as it presents itself. It's using a hammer for brain surgery because that's the only tool you've got. If you decide, and it is a decision, to 'peg' your compass to one position, it will always tell you that you're going in the right direction no matter what direction you choose to go in. That's comforting -- sufficiently comforting to some that they will choose to do that over the 'uncertainty' of having to adjust ones heading at every deviation from their aim. These people really do 'mean well' and are the object of that old saw "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". You have to ask yourself how well the strategy of 'pegging one's compass' would work behind the wheel of a car or the controls of an aircraft. Despite the fact that it's a comforting approach to selecting one's 'direction', 'pegging your compass', contrary to the illusion it provides, carries with it a high likelihood of your ending up anywhere but where you'd intended to go when you started. The most obvious current example of that is the prosecution of the ideology-based war in or 'on' Iraq. BTW, I think it's spelled $hit -- LOL.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    Terry, lol, being lost in the ozone has to be fun, I hope the hand that feeds you is not harsh: It seems some didn't understood what I wrote but, rather used it to vent certain predjudices. I could have written most of E Archer's opinion. Its real clear that the founders never intended a theocracy or any given denomination should dominate the endeavors of man. The current so called Christians attempting to shove their version of fascism down the country's throat ("And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity." Matt 7:22 - 23) is just as horrific as the atheists trying to shove their version of socialism down the same throat at the same time. Libertarians, hoping for a version of anarchy, are pretty much out of the grab for tyranny. I believe there is good and bad in all religious persuasions (atheism to Zen). It was the same time tested principles and law, taking into consideration human tendencies, that the founders saw in Jesus the Christ's doctrines; by way of example: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. " (Declaration of Independence) All freedoms enjoyed in the U.S. today are derivatives of a dying creed.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Mike, I agree "that the founders never intended a theocracy or any given denomination should dominate the endeavors of man" and that would indeed include those of 'no theism' ('a-theism' - which is not the absence of 'belief in anything' but simply, if it's actual a-theism, the absence of a belief in supernatural forces). In the end, a person's perspective is all 'belief' anyway insofar as it's the case that 'what we know' is only our best attempt at 'building a model' in our mind of what's going on 'out there'. That's where 'actuality' diverges, to some degree, be it noticable or not, from one's 'reality'. If that's too far in the O-zone for you, give it time.

    Re: "I believe there is good and bad in all religious persuasions": The Arthurian Legends (It's not that they're the last word on the subject but they do serve as one, among many, other 'modeling templates' for further contemplation of the subject of 'good' and 'bad'.) have the Holy Grail being brought down from heaven by the 'neutral angels' - not by the 'good' angels or the 'bad' (i.e. 'evil' - Lucifer) angels but by those of neither attribute. I personally take the position that the ideas of 'good' and/or 'bad' are both simple (in the truest sense of the word) and useless insofar as they almost exclusively denote only the predilections and predispositions of the speaker/author as projected upon the object of their prejudice at that time.

    "It was the same time tested principles and law, taking into consideration human tendencies ... All freedoms enjoyed in the U.S. today are derivatives of a dying creed." - Now that makes perfect sense. I couldn't agree more.

    I noticed you have a few '-isms' sprinkled about for good measure. That sometimes useful 'shorthand' still obscures and obviates the need for details or detailed evaluations. In most cases the use of '-isms' boils down to name calling and no more. Its usefulness is about the same. Usually, by the time one resorts to that, it's a sure indication that the case has been lost and that it's the avenue of last resort - then on to war where we can depend on emotion for motivation.

    Oh yeah, the hand that feeds me is harsh. It's mine.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     

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    He was Wilson's vice campaign chairman so he should know. The Federal was created under Wilson so McAdoo's support of Wilson helped create exactly what he warned about.

    What an idiot he has been proven to be.
     -- J. Allen, Arlington, Va     
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    Gee, I had thought it was only in the "hallowed halls" of Washington DC that there was so much division.

    Nope - I was wrong. LONG LIVE DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT !
     -- Bobble, No. Ferrisburgh, VT     
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    Great discussion! Intelligent points all around.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Life does not need a Religion to define ITSELF. Only a THANKS GIVING. Something other than yourselves !! PLEASE !! Two People different Languages. ONE COMMON GOAL ! OTHER THAN A THIRD PARTIES OPINION OF MY BELIEFS !. HABITS ARE GOVERNED BY NATURAL LAW !! WHO CAN STAND BEFORE JEALOUSY !
     -- Ronw13, Yachats OR     
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