While some multimillionaires started in poverty, most did not. A study of the origins of 303 textile, railroad and steel executives of the 1870s showed that 90 percent came from middle- or upper-class families. The Horatio Alger stories of “rags to riches” were true for a few men, but mostly a myth, and a useful myth for control.

A People's History of the United States (1980)
tagged: money, success

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More from Howard Zinn

Whenever I become discouraged (which is on alternate Tuesdays, between three and four) I lift my spirits by remembering: The artists are on our side! I mean those poets and painters, singers and musicians, novelists and playwrights who speak to the world in a way that is impervious to assault because they wage the battle for justice in a sphere which is unreachable by the dullness of ordinary political discourse.

"Artists of Resistance", July 2001

One certain effect of war is to diminish freedom of expression. Patriotism becomes the order of the day, and those who question the war are seen as traitors, to be silenced and imprisoned.

Howard Zinn on War (2000)

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable.

"Terror Over Tripoli" (1993)

If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, nor as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one’s country, one’s fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.

Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1991)

If those in charge of our society — politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television — can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.

Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1991)