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Debt is that which is owed; usually referencing assets owed, but the term can cover other obligations. A debt is created when a creditor agrees to loan a sum of assets to a debtor.
- I hold every man a debtor to his profession.
- Francis Bacon, Maxims of the Law, Preface; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 181.
- DEBT, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.
- As, pent in an aquarium, the troutlet
- Swims round and round his tank to find an outlet,
- Pressing his nose against the glass that holds him,
- Nor ever sees the prison that enfolds him;
- So the poor debtor, seeing naught around him,
- Yet feels the narrow limits that impound him,
- Grieves at his debt and studies to evade it,
- And finds at last he might as well have paid it.
- Barlow S. Vode
- There is, of course, a gold mine or a buried treasure on every mortgaged homestead. Whether the farmer ever digs for it or not, it is there, haunting his daydreams when the burden of debt is most unbearable.
- Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, Chapter 2 (1945).
- Even though we issue lots of credit cards and everything, we’d say, probably, if I had one piece of advice to give to young people, you know, across the board, it would be just to don’t get in debt.
- Warren Buffett, as quoted by Zameena Mejia, "3 tips Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger once gave a 14-year-old shareholder" CNBC.com, 2018-05-08, accessed 2019-09-12
- Chi vuole che la quaresima gli paia corta, si faccia debito per pagare a Pasqua.
- Giordano Bruno, Candelaio, Act IV, Scene XVII. — (Lucia.)
- Translation: He who wants Lent to seem short, should contract a debt to be repaid at Easter.
- Translation reported in Harbottle’s Dictionary of quotations French and Italian (1904), p. 275.
- It shows nobility to be willing to increase your debt to a man to whom you already owe much.
- Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, II, 6, 2 (43 BC).
- There are two things that bestow consequence; great possession, or great debts.
- Reverend Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832), English cleric and writer. Lacon; or, Many Things in Few Words (1823).
- I owe you one.
- George Colman the Younger, The Poor Gentleman, Act I. 2; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 181.
- Anticipated rents, and bills unpaid,
Force many a shining youth into the shade,
Not to redeem his time, but his estate,
And play the fool, but at the cheaper rate.
- William Cowper, Retirement, line 559; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 181.
- "My other piece of advice, Copperfield", said Mr. Micawber, "you know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and, in short, you are for ever floored. As I am!"
- Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1849–1850 ), chapter 12, p. 185.
- Debt is the prolific mother of folly and of crime.
- Benjamin Disraeli, Henrietta Temple, Book II, Chapter 1 (1837).
- Slight was the thing I bought,
Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best—
God! but the interest!
- Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), American poet. The Debt (1903).
- Debt, grinding debt, whose iron face the widow, the orphan, and the sons of genius fear and hate; debt, which consumes so much time, which so cripples and disheartens a great spirit with cares that seem so base, is a preceptor whose lessons cannot be forgone, and is needed most by those who suffer from it most.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, Chapter 5 (1836).
- Put God in your debt. Every stroke shall be repaid. The longer the payment is withholden, the better for you; for compound interest on compound interest is the rate and usage of this exchequer.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Compensation,' Essays, First Series (1841).
- You must pay at last your own debt. If you are wise, you will dread a prosperity which only loads you with more.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Compensation.
- Poverty demoralizes. A man in debt is so far a slave; and Wall-street thinks it easy for a millionaire to be a man of his word, a man of honor, but, that, in failing circumstances, no man can be relied on to keep his integrity.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wealth (1860).
- Wilt thou seal up the avenues of ill?
Pay every debt as if God wrote the bill!
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Suum Cuique; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 181.
- Creditors have better memories than debtors; and creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times.
- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack (1758).
- What is debt anyway? A debt is just the perversion of a promise. It is a promise corrupted by both math and violence."
- David Graeber. Debt: the First 5000 Years (2011).
- In vain do they think themselves innocent who appropriate to their own use alone those goods which God gave in common; by not giving to others that which they themselves receive, they become homicides and murderers, inasmuch as in keeping for themselves those things which would alleviate the sufferings of the poor, we may say that every day they cause the death of as many persons as they might have fed and did not. When, therefore, we offer the means of living to the indigent, we do not give them anything of ours, but that which of right belongs to them. It is less a work of mercy which we perform than the payment of a debt.
- Gregory the Great, quoted in George D. Herron, Between Caesar and Jesus (1899), pp. 111-112.
- The imminent public health crisis facing poorer countries as a consequence of COVID-19 will be further deepened by an associated global economic downturn that is almost certain to exceed the scale of 2008. It is too early to predict the depth of this slump, but many leading financial institutions are expecting this to be the worst recession in living memory. [...] Closely connected to this are the measures put in place by governments and central banks since 2008, most notably the policies of quantitative easing and repeated interest-rate cuts. These policies aimed at propping up share prices through massively increasing the supply of ultra-cheap money to financial markets. They meant a very significant growth in all forms of debt — corporate, government, and household. [...] We are entering an alarming situation where many poorer countries will face increasingly burdensome debt repayments while simultaneously attempting to manage an unprecedented public health crisis – all in the context of a very deep global recession.
- Adam Hanieh, This is a Global Pandemic – Let’s Treat it as Such, 27 March 2020, Verso Books
- Let every man, every corporation, and especially let every village, town, and city, every county and State, get out of debt and keep out of debt. It is the debtor that is ruined by hard times.
- Rutherford B. Hayes, Diary (July 13, 1879).
- The debt was the most sacred obligation incurred during the war. It was by no means the largest in amount. We do not haggle with those who lent us money. We should not with those who gave health and blood and life. If doors are opened to fraud, contrive to close them. But don't deny the obligation, or scold at its performance.
- Rutherford B. Hayes, letter to William Henry Smith (December 19, 1881).
- Live within your means, never be in debt, and by husbanding your money you can always lay it out well. But when you get in debt you become a slave. Therefore I say to you never involve yourself in debt, and become no man's surety. If your friend is in distress, aid him if you have the means to spare. If he fails to be able to return it, it is only so much lost.
- Andrew Jackson, letter to his ward Andrew Jackson Hutchings (April 18, 1833).
- You must, to get through life well, practice industry with economy, never create a debt for anything that is not absolutely necessary, and if you make a promise to pay money at a day certain, be sure to comply with it. If you do not, you lay yourself liable to have your feelings injured and your reputation destroyed with the just imputation of violating your word.
- Andrew Jackson, letter to Andrew Jackson, Jr. (April 14, 1835).
- Be assured that it gives much more pain to the mind to be in debt, than to do without any article whatever which we may seem to want.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to his daughter, Martha Jefferson (June 14, 1787).
- One of the greatest disservices you can do a man is to lend him money that he can't pay back.
- Jesse Holman Jones, chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and later Secretary of Commerce, The New York Times Magazine (July 2, 1939), p. 4.
- The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races, the men who borrow, and the men who lend.
- Charles Lamb (1775-1834). 'The Two Races of Men', Essays of Elia (1823).
- Money is created when banks lend it into existence. When a bank provides you with a $100,000 mortgage, it creates only the principal, which you spend and which then circulates in the economy. The bank expects you to pay back $200,000 over the next 20 years, but it doesn't create the second $100,000 - the interest. Instead, the bank sends you out into the tough world to battle against everybody else to bring back the second $100,000.
- Bernard Lietaer, quoted in Beyond Greed and Scarcity, Interview YES! A Journal of Positive Futures, (Spring 1997)
- Such was the origin of that debt which has since become the greatest prodigy that ever perplexed the sagacity and confounded the pride of statesmen and philosophers. At every stage in the growth of that debt the nation has set up the same cry of anguish and despair. At every stage in the growth of that debt it has been seriously asserted by wise men that bankruptcy and ruin were at hand. Yet still the debt went on growing; and still bankruptcy and ruin were as remote as ever.
- Thomas Babington Macaulay, History of England (1849-1861), Volume 8 (The Complete Writings of Lord Macaulay, Volume 8), chapter 19 (1899).
- Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
- Paul of Tarsus, Epistle to the Romans 13:8-10 NIV.
- Since those who rule in the city do so because they own a lot, I suppose they're unwilling to enact laws to prevent young people who've had no discipline from spending and wasting their wealth, so that by making loans to them, secured by the young people's property, and then calling those loans in, they themselves become even richer and more honored.
- Plato, The Republic, 555c, G. Grube and C. Reeve, trans., Plato: Complete Works (1997), p. 1166.
- Wars are made to make debt.
- Ezra Pound, interview in Writers at Work, Second Series (1963).
- The slender debt to Nature's quickly paid,
Discharged, perchance with greater ease than made.
- Francis Quarles, Emblems, Book II, Emblem 13; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 181.
- Debtes et mensonges sont ordinairement ensemble ralliés.
- Debts and lies are generally mixed together.
- François Rabelais, Pantagruel (1532), Book III, Chapter V; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 181.
- Being willing to delay pleasure for a greater result is a sign of maturity. However, our culture teaches us to live for the now. “I want it!” we scream, and we can get it if we are willing to go into debt. Debt is a means to obtain the “I want its” before we can afford them.
- Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover (2009, 3d edition) p. 17
- We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.
- Ronald Reagan, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1982
- Leve aes alienum debitorem facit, grave inimicum.
- A trifling debt makes a man your debtor; a large one makes him an enemy.
- Seneca the Younger, Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius) (c. 65), Letter XIX: On worldliness and retirement, line 11.
- A trifling debt makes a man your debtor; a large one makes him an enemy.
- Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
- Robert W. Service, The Cremation of Sam McGee, l. 33 (1907).
- It's dynamite to spend future earnings. I have had a taste of it myself, and it's mighty bitter. A debt is a debt, whether it's margins or mortgages; and debts are all the same, no matter how you try to camouflage 'em. You never get much out of 'em except trouble. On the farm or in Wall Street, if you use the other fellow's money, it costs you a lot more than it's worth.
- Sue Sanders, Our Common Herd, Chapter 25 (1940).
- Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
for loan doth oft lose both itself and friend,
and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
- William Shakespeare, Polonius in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3.
- He that dies pays all debts.
- William Shakespeare, Stephano in The Tempest (1611), Act 1, Scene 2.
- A house of debt is a house in whose interior no light shines.
- 'Tis good to be known,
To have all of thy own.
Who goeth a borrowing,
Goeth a sorrowing.
- Thomas Tusser, Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie (1573), point 6.
- Debt leads to fragility. We've discovered since the Babylonians that debt has systemic consequences whereas equity doesn't. Let's say that you have two brothers. One of them borrowed and they both had predictions about the future—forecasts. One brother borrows. The other issues equity. The one who borrows will go bust if he makes a mistake. The one who issues equity will fluctuate but will be able to survive a forecast error.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, as quoted by Nick Gilespie, "How Debt Ruins Systems", Reason.com 2012-03-24, accessed 2019-09-11
- I have never, ever borrowed a penny. So I have zero credit record. No loans, no mortgage, nothing. Ever. When I had no money, I rented. I have an allergy to borrowing and a scorn for people who are in debt, and I don’t hide it. I follow the Romans’ attitude that debtors are not free people.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, as quoted by Adrienne Westenfield, "Nassim Nicholas Taleb Has Never Borrowed a Cent in His Life", Esquire.com, 2018-04-20, accessed accessed 2019-09-11
- We're in the danger zone right now
- Democratic Senator Mark Warner "U.S. Senate Democrats plan debt-limit vote, Biden hints filibuster could go" (October 6, 2021)
- There is no practice more dangerous than that of borrowing money…for when money can be had in this way, repayment is seldom thought of in time…Exertions to raise it by dint of industry ceases. It comes easy and is spent freely and many things indulged in that would never be thought of, if to be purchased by the sweat of the brow. In the mean time, the debt is accumulating like a snowball in rolling.
- George Washington, as quoted in R. Chernow’s Washington: A Life, p. 108.
- If I take the wages of everyone here, individually it means nothing, but collectively all of the earning power or wages that you earned in one week would make me wealthy. And if I could collect it for a year, I'd be rich beyond dreams. Now, when you see this, and then you stop and consider the wages that were kept back from millions of Black people, not for one year but for three hundred and ten years, you'll see how this country got so rich so fast. And what made the economy as strong as it is today. And all that slave labor that was amassed in unpaid wages, is due someone today. And you're not giving us anything when we say that it's time to collect.
- Malcolm X, "Twenty million black people in prison," in Malcolm X: The Last Speeches, p. 51