"No One Can Earn a Million Dollars Honestly." Is this statement true?

+3 votes
May 5, 2017 in Banking by Virginia (7,565 points)

William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) said this.

Well, if he said it in 1913, that same $Million would be worth $25 million today in 2017...

So; is it possible to make LOTS of money, and do it with total honesty and integrity?

6 Answers

Dan May 5, 2017

Does winning a Lottery counts? So all cooperates are not honest in some way.

Virginia Dan May 5, 2017

Good point Dan!

Rooster May 5, 2017

I think it can be done if you stick to your principles and keep people around you that are honest. I know, easier said than done! I suppose I earned my couple of million honestly when I sold my vintage aircraft. Clean honest sales. Not like a used car salesman. LOL.

Virginia Rooster May 5, 2017

Yes, thank you Rooster.

Angela_Anthony May 5, 2017

I think it can be done! Will I ever make a million dollars? I highly doubt it, but I'd like to think there are still some honest people out there. 

Virginia Angela_Anthony May 5, 2017

I hope so too, Angela!

TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

COMPLETELY honest?  Not sure about that with respect to multimillions, but I disagree with Bryan nevertheless. It is at the very least possible to make millions and still be a net benefit to society.

Henry Ford, for example, paid good wages and made cars accessible to the average person.

He also created many more jobs than Jimmy Hoffa (or Bryan) ever did. :ermm:

(Ok, ok, Virginia... maybe I watched "On the Waterfront" too many times, and I don't mean to imply that Bryan was a crook.)  :D

Virginia TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

Well O'Tink these answers are creating a pattern, and that is heartening...ima hope now that Bryan was wrong, and speaking from disillusionment!

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

@ Virginia,

Well, maybe he was a bit disillusioned.

After all, he lost out on bids for the Presidency even more often than Hillary!   :D  (and like her, he was Sec'y of State for a while)

And it has been speculated that the Wizard of Oz is satirical political allegory by L.Frank Baum, featuring Bryan as the Cowardly Lion.  :D


Virginia TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

I did not know that about Bryan and the Wizard of Oz, ima go to your link!

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

@ Virginia,

One thing about Bryan as Sec'y of State:  he resigned in 1915, because he was a strict pacifist and did not want the US to enter WW1.

It's very interesting to speculate what would have happened if the US HAD stayed out. The French probably would have asked Germany for an armistice (there had been widespread mutinies in the French army in 1917, and it is certain that their morale would have fallen even further after Russia made peace with the Germans in the East, freeing up more than a million German troops for action in the West.) If the US had not entered the war at that point, it is quite possible that a peace agreement could have been reached on the basis of status quo ante in the West, with recognition of German gains in the East, in other words, a peace consistent with 'the facts on the ground'.

Had that happened, there would have been no punitive Versailles Treaty, no 'November criminals', no abdication by the Kaiser (except perhaps to have become more of a figurehead constitutional monarch), no significant communist uprisings in Germany, no hyperinflation, Hitler would never have come to power, and hence no WW2 with all its horrors.

On the other hand, had all that happened, my forebears probably would not have left Germany, and I never would have been born to make these speculations.  :O :D

Virginia TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

THAT is some fascinating speculation, O'Tink!

I don't know much about WWI, but definitely interested. A couple of points, just in case you may have already given these some study/thought?

1. Gavrilo Princeps...his bullet(s) offing the Archduke and his Duchess...some chaos theorists suggest that was merely the "tipping-point," igniting a world situation that was already highly unstable, waiting for the figurative 'straw'...? So, in your alternative scenario, maybe a relative stability might have been re-established vastly quicker...?

2. I read Barbara Tuchman's book THE ZIMMERMAN TELEGRAM (and her GUNS OF AUGUST is on my list). Apparently, what tipped the US balance toward war, and away from President Wilson's profound pacifism, was the specter of Japan invading the US through Mexico...a military imperialism the US was eventually forced to confront. Do your studies show Japan as significant at that time? 

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

@ Virginia,

1. Yes, that was the tipping point, but there had been several crises before that, so it is quite possible that if Franz-Ferdinand had not been assassinated, another tipping point later on would have occurred.  But who knows? The Cold War had its crises, but total war was averted, though in the Cold War, the consequences of nuclear war would have been far worse than anything that happened in WW1.

2. The Zimmermann telegram involved Germany, not Japan (Japan was on the Allied side). In it, the Germans promised to help Mexico get back land lost during the Mexican War if the US entered WW1 and Germany won. In return, I think Mexico was supposed to create a diversion on the US border to tie down some US troops that could otherwise have been used in Europe.

Virginia TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

Hmmm...I thought I recalled Japan had somehow a spoon in that pot...anyway, your alternative scenario WWI is fascinating and poignant O'T.

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

@ Virginia,

Yes, you are right, I looked it up and it did involve the Japanese, although only peripherally.

In addition to attacking the US, Mexico was supposed to try to broker an alliance between Germany and Japan, but I don't think there was any serious thought of Japanese land forces attacking the US through Mexico, at least there was no mention of that in the telegram. I suppose it's possible that this highly unlikely scenario was used to further inflame American public opinion.


I think Germany's primary concern about Japan at that time was that Japan had occupied several German colonies in the Pacific and in China.

Virginia TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

O'Tink, it has been a while since I read Tuchman's book, but I remember surprise at learning it was apparently Kaiser Wilhelm II who coined the expression "yellow peril"...!

He (the kaiser) seemed like quite an interesting, eccentric person. And yes, if I recall the threat of a Japanese alliance with Mexico and then launching a Japanese invasion from Mexico into the US, that may have served to quite inflame the American public!

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

Virginia, I think the Kaiser used the expression, but it probably was coined by someone else.

"In the late 19th century, the sociologist Jacques Novikow coined the phrase The Yellow Peril, in the essay "Le péril jaune" (1897); later, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany used Yellow Peril racism to encourage the European empires to invade, conquer, and colonize China."


I think this racist sentiment was common in the European colonial powers.

But, more recently, not only in Europe.


Virginia TheOtherTink May 5, 2017

Well done, well researched O'T...ty

Marianne TheOtherTink Jun 12, 2017

Lol - T(h)ink, you would have been there, but perhaps only in Germany, as a modern German writer and poet, or, perhaps as a British author, depending on what your grandparents would have decided..


TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Jun 13, 2017


But if they hadn't gone to America, my father would probably never have met my mother:O :ermm: :D

Marianne TheOtherTink Jun 13, 2017


That may be an argument - but one never knows what could have happened. Sometimes, certain meetings can still happen - also under different circumstances.


TheOtherTink TheOtherTink Jun 13, 2017

@ Marianne,

Well... maybe. :O :O :O :ermm: :angel: :) :D :D :D

Virginia TheOtherTink Jun 13, 2017

O'Tink...I have been meaning to look up your comment about Henry Ford; because I saw a History Channel documentary once, in which Henry Ford showed that a capitalist endeavor can enrich its owner without oppressing the workers. And that Henry Ford would point that out!

(As you know I am myself kinda throwing out capitalism altogether here...however we DO need to be certain there is something better to go to...)

katherine24 May 7, 2017

I know people who's relatives started businesses (printing) from scratch which they inherited and then sold on for a million pounds, however when they gained the money they squandered it and ended up penniless, which seems pretty sad to me considering the hard labour of their ancestors.  Maybe it's true that you will only appreciate the merits of "your own" hard labour.

Virginia katherine24 May 7, 2017

That is a thoughtful observation, Katherine thank you...

And welcome to Solve, I certainly appreciated your Q about Gandhi and the Dalits.

Marianne Jun 12, 2017

Yes, it should be possible, but only in very few cases.

Fast and easy money hides often rather dubious practices and activities, except for some great stars - and even then, it depends on the means they are already disposing of, on their business, their skills, on their achievements, their investments, on their assistants, their family, relations, etc.

Virginia Marianne Jun 12, 2017

I do agree with your observations, Marianne!

Marianne Marianne Jun 13, 2017

Thank you, Virginia - :)<3.

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