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John Maynard Keynes
1883 - 1946

Economist who sparked a 20th-century explosion of direct participation by governments in their economies. Embraced by liberal and socialist bureaucrats and politicians, Keynes' recommendations about government intervention to maintain optimum employment rates led to Roosevelt's New Deal and from it to the modern welfare system. Author of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1935)


... the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority ... are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back ... I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.

from The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some....The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose.

1920 - from Economic Consequences of the Peace
The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward.