"The Obama Administration’s $862 billion stimulus bill was an expensive failure that increased the federal deficit, contributed to America’s deteriorating fiscal health, and failed to reduce unemployment. Instead of repeating this mistake, Congress should alleviate business fears and economic uncertainty by maintaining the current tax policy (extending the 2001 and 2003 tax rates) and freezing...
American Founding and 19th Century Quotes on The Role of Business and Entrepreneurship
"All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression."
“We may make these Times better if we bestir ourselves. Industry need not wish, as Poor Richard says, and He that lives upon Hope will die fasting. There are no Gains, without Pains; then Help Hands, for I have no Lands, or if I have, they are smartly taxed. And, as Poor Richard likewise observes, He that hath a Trade hath an Estate, and He that hath a Calling hath an Office of Profit and Honour; but then the Trade must be worked at, and the Calling well followed, or neither the Estate, nor the Office, will enable us to pay our Taxes. If we are industrious we shall never starve; for, as Poor Richard says, At the working Man’s House Hunger looks in, but dares not enter. Nor will the Bailiff nor the Constable enter, for Industry pays Debts, while Despair encreaseth them, says Poor Richard. What though you have found no Treasure, nor has any rich Relation left you a Legacy, Diligence is the Mother of Good luck, as Poor Richard says, and God gives all Things to Industry. Then plough deep, while Sluggards sleep, and you shall have Corn to sell and to keep, says Poor Dick. Work while it is called To-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered To-morrow, which makes Poor Richard say, One To-day is worth two To-morrows; and farther, Have you somewhat to do To-morrow, do it To-day. If you were a Servant, would you not be ashamed that a good Master should catch you idle? Are you then your own Master, be ashamed to catch yourself idle, as Poor Dick says. ...
So much for Industry, my Friends, and Attention to one’s own Business; but to these we must add Frugality, if we would make our Industry more certainly successful.”
"'I well know where the difficulty of accomplishing these things will lie. Overseers are already engaged (upon shares), to look after my business. Remote advantages to me, however manifest and beneficial, are nothing to them; and to engage standing wages, when I do not know that any thing that I have, or can raise, will command cash, is attended with hazard; for which reason, I hardly know what more to say, than to discover my wishes. The same reason, although it may in appearance have the same tendency in respect to you, shall not be the same in its operation; for I will engage for the year coming, and the year following, if these troubles and my absence continue, that your wages shall be standing and certain, at the highest amount, that any one year’s crop has produced to you yet. I do not offer this as any temptation to induce you to go on more cheerfully in prosecuting these schemes of mine. I should do injustice to you, were I not to acknowledge, that your conduct has ever appeared to me above every thing sordid; but I offer it in consideration of the great charge you have upon your hands, and my entire dependence upon your fidelity and industry.
“It is the greatest, indeed it is the only comfortable reflection I enjoy on this score, that my business is in the hands of a person in whose integrity I have not a doubt, and on whose care I can rely. Was it not for this, I should feel very unhappy, on account of the situation of my affairs; but I am persuaded you will do for me as you would for yourself, and more than this I cannot expect.'"
"America is a nation of husbandmen, planted on a vast continent of wild, uncultivated land; and there is, and will be for centuries, no way in which these people can get a living, and advance their interest so much as by agriculture. They can apply themselves to manufactures only to fill up interstices of time, in which they cannot labor on their lands, and to commerce only to carry the produce of their lands, the raw materials of manufactures, to the European market. Europe is a country, whose land is all cultivated nearly to perfection, where the people have no way to advance themselves but by manufactures and commerce. Here are two worlds, then, fitted by God and nature to benefit each other, one by furnishing raw materials, the other manufactures, and they can never interfere."
"To this estimate of our abilities, let me add a word as to the application of them, if, when cleared of the present contest, and of ... the debts with which that will charge us, we come to measure force hereafter with any European power. Such events are devoutly to be deprecated. Young as we are, and with such a country before us to fill with people and with happiness, we should point in that direction the whole generative force of nature, wasting none of it in efforts of mutual destruction. It should be our endeavor to cultivate the peace and friendship of every nation, even of that which has injured us most, when we shall have carried our point against her. Our interest will be to throw open the doors of commerce, and to knock off all its shackles, giving perfect freedom to all persons for the vent of whatever they may choose to bring into our ports, and asking the same in theirs. Never was so much false arithmetic employed on any subject, as that which has been employed to persuade nations that it is their interest to go to war. Were the money which it has cost to gain, at the close of a long war, a little town, or a little territory, the right to cut wood here, or to catch fish there, expended in improving what they already possess, in making roads, opening rivers, building ports, improving the arts ... and finding employment for their idle poor, it would render them much stronger, much wealthier and happier. This I hope will be our wisdom. And perhaps, to remove as much as possible the occasions of making war, it might be better for us to abandon the ocean altogether, that being the element whereon we shall be principally exposed to justle with other nations: to leave to others to bring what we shall want, and to carry what we can spare. This would make us invulnerable to Europe, by offering none of our property to their prize, and would turn all our citizens to the cultivation of the earth; and, I repeat it again, cultivators of the earth are the most virtuous and independant citizens. It might be time enough to seek employment for them at sea, when the land no longer offers it. But the actual habits of our countrymen attach them to commerce. They will exercise it for themselves."
"If the temper of Spain be unfriendly to the views of the U. States, they may certainly calculate on the favorable sentiments of the other powers of Europe, at least of all such of them as favored our Independence. The chief advantages expected in Europe from that event center in the revolution it was to produce in the commerce between the new & the old World. The commerce of the U. S. is advantageous to Europe in two respects, first by the unmanufactured produce which they export; secondly by the manufactured imports which they consume. Shut up the Mississippi and discourage the settlements on its waters, and what will be the consequence? First, a greater quantity of subsistence must be raised within the ancient settlements, the culture of tobacco indigo & other articles for exportation, be proportionably diminished, and their price proportionably raised on the European consumer. Secondly the hands without land at home being discouraged from seeking it where alone it could be found, must be turned in a great degree to manufacturing, our imports proportionably diminished, and a proportional loss fall on the European Manufacturer. Establish the freedom of the Mississippi, and let our emigrations have free course, and how favorably for Europe will the consequence be reversed. First the culture of every article for exportation will be extended, and the price reduced in favor of her consumers. Secondly, Our people will increase without an increase of our Manufacturers, and in the same proportion will be increased the employment & profit of hers."
"The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by all enlightened statesmen to be the most useful as well as the most productive source of national wealth, and has accordingly become a primary object of their political cares. By multipying the means of gratification, by promoting the introduction and circulation of the precious metals, those darling objects of human avarice and enterprise, it serves to vivify and invigorate the channels of industry, and to make them flow with greater activity and copiousness. The assiduous merchant, the laborious husbandman, the active mechanic, and the industrious manufacturer, -- all orders of men, look forward with eager expectation and growing alacrity to this pleasing reward of their toils. The often-agitated question between agriculture and commerce has, from indubitable experience, received a decision which has silenced the rivalship that once subsisted between them, and has proved, to the satisfaction of their friends, that their interests are intimately blended and interwoven. It has been found in various countries that, in proportion as commerce has flourished, land has risen in value. And how could it have happened otherwise? Could that which procures a freer vent for the products of the earth, which furnishes new incitements to the cultivation of land, which is the most powerful instrument in increasing the quantity of money in a state -- could that, in fine, which is the faithful handmaid of labor and industry, in every shape, fail to augment that article, which is the prolific parent of far the greatest part of the objects upon which they are exerted? It is astonishing that so simple a truth should ever have had an adversary; and it is one, among a multitude of proofs, how apt a spirit of ill-informed jealousy, or of too great abstraction and refinement, is to lead men astray from the plainest truths of reason and conviction."
"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; ...
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; ...
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
“Of these, the first is agriculture. This is true in all countries: in the United States, its truth is of peculiar importance. The subsistence of man, the materials of manufactures, the articles of commerce—all spring originally from the soil. On agriculture, therefore, the wealth of nations is founded. Whether we consult the observations that reason will suggest, or attend to the information that history will give, we shall, in each case, be satisfied of the influence of government, good or bad, upon the state of agriculture. In a government, whose maxims are those of oppression, property is insecure. It is given, it is taken away, by caprice. Where there is no security for property, there is no encouragement for industry. Without industry, the richer the soil, the more it abounds with weeds. The evidence of history warrants the truth of these general remarks. Attend to Greece; and compare her agriculture in ancient and in modern times. Then, smiling harvests bore testimony to the bountiful boons of liberty. Now, the very earth languishes under oppression. View the Campania of Rome. How melancholy the prospect! Whichever way you turn your afflicted eyes, scenes of desolation crowd before them. Waste and barrenness appear around you in all their hideous forms. What is the reason? With double tyranny the land is cursed. Open the classick page: you trace, in chaste description, the beautiful reverse of every thing you have seen. Whence proceeds the difference? When that description was made, the force of liberty pervaded the soil.
But is agriculture the only art, which feels the influence of government? Over manufactures and commerce its power is equally prevalent. There the same causes operate—and there they produce the same effects. The industrious village, the busy city, the crowded port—all these are the gifts of liberty; and without a good government, liberty cannot exist.
These are advantages, but these are not all the advantages, that result from a system of good government.—Agriculture, manufactures, and commerce will ensure to us plenty, convenience, and elegance.”
"That a great combination of men should prevail over a small one; that those who engage in an enterprise with forethought and all necessary preparation, should prevail over such as oppose them without any; and that every end should be acquired by those means only which Nature has established for acquiring it, seems to be a rule not only necessary and unavoidable in itself, but even useful and proper for rousing the industry and attention of mankind."
"The Americans, on the other hand, are fond of explaining almost all the actions of their lives by the principle of self-interest rightly understood; they show with complacency how an enlightened regard for themselves constantly prompts them to assist one another and inclines them willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property to the welfare of the state. In this respect I think they frequently fail to do themselves justice, for in the United States as well as elsewhere people are sometimes seen to give way to those disinterested and spontaneous impulses that are natural to man; but the Americans seldom admit that they yield to emotions of this kind; they are more anxious to do honor to their philosophy than to themselves."
"The principle of self-interest rightly understood is not a lofty one, but it is clear and sure. It does not aim at mighty objects, but it attains without excessive exertion all those at which it aims. As it lies within the reach of all capacities, everyone can without difficulty learn and retain it. By its admirable conformity to human weaknesses it easily obtains great dominion; nor is that dominion precarious, since the principle checks one personal interest by another, and uses, to direct the passions, the very same instrument that excites them.
The principle of self-interest rightly understood produces no great acts of self-sacrifice, but it suggests daily small acts of self-denial. By itself it cannot suffice to make a man virtuous; but it disciplines a number of persons in habits of regularity, temperance, moderation, foresight, self- command; and if it does not lead men straight to virtue by the will, it gradually draws them in that direction by their habits. If the principle of interest rightly understood were to sway the whole moral world, extraordinary virtues would doubtless be more rare; but I think that gross depravity would then also be less common. The principle of interest rightly understood perhaps prevents men from rising far above the level of mankind, but a great number of other men, who were falling far below it, are caught and restrained by it. Observe some few individuals, they are lowered by it; survey mankind, they are raised.
I am not afraid to say that the principle of self-interest rightly understood appears to me the best suited of all philosophical theories to the wants of the men of our time, and that I regard it as their chief remaining security against themselves. Towards it, therefore, the minds of the moralists of our age should turn; even should they judge it to be incomplete, it must nevertheless be adopted as necessary.
"The extra gains which any producer or dealer obtains through superior talents for business, or superior business arrangements, are very much of a similar kind. If all his competitors had the same advantages, and used them, the benefit would be transferred to their customers, through the diminished value of the article: he only retains it for himself because he is able to bring his commodity to market at a lower cost, while its value is determined by a higher."
"God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! A way with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!
And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works."
"We must repeat, at the risk of distressing modern sentimentalists: Political economy is restricted to the area that we call business, and business is under the influence of self-interest. Let the puritans of socialism cry out as much as they will: 'This is horrible; we shall change all this'; their rantings on this subject constitute their own conclusive refutation. Try to buy a printed copy of their publications on the Quai Voltaire, using brotherly love as payment!"
"Again, trade is a social act. Whoever undertakes to sell any description of goods to the public, does what affects the interest of other persons, and of society in general; and thus his conduct, in principle, comes within the jurisdiction of society: accordingly, it was once held to be the duty of governments, in all cases which were considered of importance, to fix prices, and regulate the processes of manufacture. But it is now recognised, though not till after a long struggle, that both the cheapness and the good quality of commodities are most effectually provided for by leaving the producers and sellers perfectly free, under the sole check of equal freedom to the buyers for supplying themselves elsewhere. This is the so-called doctrine of Free Trade, which rests on grounds different from, though equally solid with, the principle of individual liberty asserted in this Essay. Restrictions on trade, or on production for purposes of trade, are indeed restraints; and all restraint, qua restraint, is an evil: but the restraints in question affect only that part of conduct which society is competent to restrain, and are wrong solely because they do not really produce the results which it is desired to produce by them. As the principle of individual liberty is not involved in the doctrine of Free Trade, so neither is it in most of the questions which arise respecting the limits of that doctrine; as, for example, what amount of public control is admissible for the prevention of fraud by adulteration; how far sanitary precautions, or arrangements to protect workpeople employed in dangerous occupations, should be enforced on employers. Such questions involve considerations of liberty, only in so far as leaving people to themselves is always better, caeteris paribus, than controlling them: but that they may be legitimately controlled for these ends is in principle undeniable. On the other hand, there are questions relating to interference with trade which are essentially questions of liberty; such as the Maine Law, already touched upon; the prohibition of the importation of opium into China; the restriction of the sale of poisons; all cases, in short, where the object of the interference is to make it impossible or difficult to obtain a particular commodity. These interferences are objectionable, not as infringements on the liberty of the producer or seller, but on that of the buyer."
"The control exercised by the capitalist is not only a special function, due to the nature of the social labour-process, and peculiar to that process, but it is, at the same time, a function of the exploitation of a social labour-process, and is consequently rooted in the unavoidable antagonism between the exploiter and the living and labouring raw material he exploits."
"These cautions and restrictions being observed, it is the bounden duty of all who are engaged in worldly business to observe that first and great rule of Christian wisdom with respect to money, 'Gain all you can.' Gain all you can by honest industry. Use all possible diligence in your calling. Lose no time. If you understand yourself and your relation to God and man, you know you have none to spare. If you understand your particular calling as you ought, you will have no time that hangs upon your hands. Every business will afford some employment sufficient for every day and every hour. That wherein you are placed, if you follow it in earnest, will leave you no leisure for silly, unprofitable diversions. You have always something better to do, something that will profit you, more or less. ... Let nothing in your business be left undone if it can be done by labour or patience."
"I hope you will now be able to see that all accumulated capital is for the advantage of the laborer or the non-capitalist, as well as the rich. If the capitalist expends his money in building a factory, that factory is making clothing for the poor as well as for the rich; probably more for the poor than for the rich, because the former will derive the greatest advantages from the cheapening of clothing thus produced. ...
Again, what does the capitalist do with the money which you pay him for rent? Some part of it he may expend for his own exclusive benefit; but, as the world goes, the chances are that he puts the larger part of it into improvements which in some way benefit his fellow-men, laborers included. Some part of it goes to keep the very house in which you live in repair; another part, perhaps, to build new houses; another part to extend railroads, and so on. In all these ways, it is expended so as to increase the supply of food, clothing, and shelter available for the support of the laborer. Thus, all combinations among laborers to diminish or interfere with the development of capital amount to nothing but combinations to do the whole laboring class of the country, themselves included, as much harm as they can by interfering with the operation of the social system ...."
"One way in which the employer or capitalist is necessary to the laborer is this: when the two classes combine in any enterprise, say the building of a house, the former takes all the risk. Whether the house sells well or not, the men who build it get their wages, and thus are enabled to live, whereas it depends altogether on how the house sells whether the capitalist makes or loses. Thus, the men very wisely trade off their chances of large profit, which they might have if they built for themselves, for the sake of being certain of the means of living."
"What is meant by saying, Capital is productive?
In its most common and weakest sense the expression may be taken to mean no more than this,—that capital serves towards the production of goods, in opposition to the immediate satisfaction of needs. The predicate 'productive,' then, would only be applied to capital in the same sense as, in the usual classification of goods, we speak of 'productive goods,' in opposition to 'goods for immediate consumption' (Genussgüter). Indeed the smallest degree of productive effect would warrant the conferring of that predicate, even if the product should not attain to the value of the capital expended in making it. It is clear from the first that a productive power in this sense cannot possibly be the sufficient cause of interest.
The adherents of those theories, then, must ascribe a stronger meaning to the term. Expressly or tacitly they understand it as meaning that, by the aid of capital, more is produced; that capital is the cause of a particular productive surplus result."
"To-day the world obtains commodities of excellent quality at prices which even the generation preceding this would have deemed incredible. In the commercial world similar causes have produced similar results, and the race is benefited thereby. The poor enjoy what the rich could not before afford. What were the luxuries have become the necessaries of life. The laborer has now more comforts than the landlord had a few generations ago. The farmer has more luxuries than the landlord had, and is more richly clad and better housed. The landlord has books and pictures rarer, and appointments more artistic, than the King could then obtain."
"We start, then, with a condition of affairs under which the best interests of the race are promoted, but which inevitably gives wealth to the few. Thus far, accepting conditions as they exist, the situation can be surveyed and pronounced good. The question then arises, --and, if the foregoing be correct, it is the only question with which we have to deal, --What is the proper mode of administering wealth after the laws upon which civilization is founded have thrown it into the hands of the few? And it is of this great question that I believe I offer the true solution. It will be understood that fortunes are here spoken of, not moderate sums saved by many years of effort, the returns on which are required for the comfortable maintenance and education of families. This is not wealth, but only competence which it should be the aim of all to acquire."
"It is clear, on the face of the facts, that the two static incomes—those, namely, of the laborer and of the capitalist—are paid to them by the entrepreneur, who receives and sells the product of their joint industry. In the cotton mill, it is the hirer of capital and of labor who puts the goods on the market and from the proceeds pays the workmen and the owners of capital. If he pays first to the capitalists what the final productivity law, as applied to capital, calls for, he has a remainder out of which he must pay wages; and now it is the final productivity law that decides what he must pay as wages. If there is anything left on his hands after the two payments are made, it is a profit; and the terms profit and residual income are thus synonymous."