Are the Poor Closer to Heaven than the Rich?
[If you don’t believe in heaven, then paraphrase the question to read, ‘Are the poor more deserving of heaven than the rich?’ where heaven stands for a place of love, peace and justice.]
Among us English-speaking peoples especially do the praises of poverty need once more to be boldly sung. We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition. We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient idealization of poverty could have meant: the liberation from material attachments, the unbribed soul, the manlier indifference, the paying our way by what we are or do and not by what we have, the right to fling away our life at any moment irresponsibly—the more athletic trim, in short, the moral fighting shape. When we of the so-called better classes are scared as men were never scared in history at material ugliness and hardship; when we put off marriage until our house can be artistic, and quake at the thought of having a child without a bank-account and doomed to manual labour, it is time for thinking men to protest against so unmanly and irreligious a state of opinion.
[While on a pilgrimage to Rome the writer, dirty and ill-kempt, enters a restaurant (circa 1900) and defends the negative reaction of the other patrons to his presence.]
So much for views. I clambered down the hill to Archettes and saw, almost the first house, a swinging board ‘At the sign of the Trout of the Vosges’, and as it was now evening I turned in there to dine.
Two things I noticed at once when I sat down to meat. First, that the people seated at that inn table were of the middle-class of society, and secondly, that I, though of their rank, was an impediment to their enjoyment. For to sleep in woods, to march some seventy miles, the latter part in a dazzling sun, and to end by sliding down an earthy steep into the road, stamps a man with all that this kind of people least desire to have thrust upon them. And those who blame the middle-class for their conventions in such matters, and who profess to be above the care for cleanliness and clothes and social ritual which marks the middle-class, are either anarchists by nature, or fools who take what is but an effect of their wealth for a natural virtue.
I say it roundly; if it were not for the punctiliousness of the middle-class in these matters all our civilization would go to pieces. They are the conservators and the maintainers of the standard, the moderators of Europe, the salt of society. For the kind of man who boasts that he does not mind dirty clothes or roughing it, is either a man who cares nothing for all that civilization has built up and who rather hates it, or else (and this is much more common) he is a rich man, or accustomed to live among the rich, and can afford to waste energy and stuff because he feels in a vague way that more clothes can always be bought, that at the end of his vagabondism he can get excellent dinners, and that London and Paris are full of luxurious baths and barber shops. Of all the corrupting effects of wealth there is none worse than this, that it makes the wealthy (and their parasites) think in some way divine, or at least a lovely character of the mind, what is in truth nothing but their power of luxurious living. Heaven keep us all from great riches—I mean from very great riches.
Thoughts about Wealth and Poverty
A poor person who is unhappy is in a better position than a rich person who is unhappy. Because the poor person has hope. He thinks money would help.
All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.
Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
Few, save the poor, feel for the poor.
Great wealth has a peculiar quality. It makes people more greedy.
I never felt poverty because I’d never known anything else.
If you want poor people to work you restore their incentive by giving them less, such as by cutting social services. If you want rich people to work you restore their incentive by giving them more, such as by cutting taxes.
If you’ve ever really been poor, you remain poor at heart all your life.
Make money and the whole world will conspire to call you a gentleman.
Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.
People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.
John Kenneth Galbraith
Philanthropist: a rich (and usually bald) old gentleman who has trained himself to grin while his conscience is picking his pocket.
Poverty is more than an economic state, it’s also a state of mind.
Poverty is not a moral disorder of the individual. It is not a sign of moral failure.
Racism is the snobbery of the poor.
The poor on the borderline of starvation live purposeful lives. To be engaged in a desperate struggle for food and shelter is to be wholly free from a sense of futility.
The rich are the scum of the earth in every country.
G. K. Chesterton
The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil. Perhaps this is inherent. In a community where the primary concern is making money, one of the necessary rules is to live and let live.
John Kenneth Galbraith
The well-to-do do not want the poor to suffer. They wish them to be as happy as is consistent with the continued prosperity of the well-to-do.
There is no scandal like rags, nor any crime so shameful as poverty.
There is nothing so habit-forming as money.
To be poor and independent is very nearly an impossibility.
To suppose, as we all suppose, that we could be rich and not behave as the rich behave, is like supposing that we could drink all day and keep absolutely sober.
Logan Pearsall Smith
When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.
Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. The affluence of the rich supposes the indigence of the many.
To download the MS Word (2002) version of this file
To download the WordPerfect (8) version of this file click HERE.
For more topics in this format click HERE.