Steve Forbes Quotations

Malcolm Stevenson (“Steve”) Forbes, Jr. / b. 1947 / New Jersey, USA / Business Executive, Author, Political Candidate, Publisher of Forbes Magazine

Church and State

There’s nothing wrong with posting the Ten Commandments in our schools today, because they are the basis of Western civilization. Also, when you look to what’s happened in the last 40 years to the quality of life in this country, when prayer was barred from school, I think it’s fitting and proper that we have voluntary prayer.

Republican Party Presidential Nomination Debate, Johnston, Iowa, January 16, 2000.

[We should] protect people of all faiths—or of no faith—from encroachments by the state that violate their consciences and most deeply held beliefs. The Founders never intended the separation of church from state to become a separation of religion from public and civic life. There is no reason why a child should be denied the right to hold a Bible study before or after school, or write an essay about a biblical figure during school.

 A New Birth of Freedom: Vision for America (1999).

Federal Reserve

The central bank’s bond purchases or sales are also an important indication of where the value of the dollar is headed. Is the Fed continuing its bond purchases and further expanding the money supply? Or, is it shrinking the monetary base by selling those securities? The answers may be found on the Federal Reserve balance sheet.

Inflation: What It Is, Why It’s Bad, and How to Fix It, with Nathan Lewis and Elizabeth Ames (2022).

The foundations for today’s prosperity were laid by Ronald Reagan in the early 1980’s. [Fed Chairman Alan] Greenspan did a very good job in the early 1990’s. But recently he’s fallen prey to this crazy theory that prosperity causes inflation. So they’re trying to slow the economy down by raising interest rates. It’s like a doctor saying you’re in great health, so we have to make you sick a little bit. It’s a bizarre theory. It’s going to hurt our economy.

Republican Party Presidential Nomination Debate, Phoenix, Arizona, December 7, 1999.

Financial Crisis of 2008

To appreciate the depth of political upheaval created by the 2008 financial crisis, just tally the power shifts that occurred in its wake. In addition to the turmoil in the Middle East, 13 out of 17 European governments changed over as a result of the initial financial crisis. In the United States, the stock market panic in September 2008 reversed the slight lead of John McCain and helped sweep the far-left Barack Obama into office.

Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy—and What We Can Do About It, with Elizabeth Ames (2014).

Flat Tax

Twenty-five countries have tried it, and it’s succeeded everywhere it’s been tried.

Interview with Crystal Lu, Wharton Magazine, November 7, 2014.

Well, what a flat tax does is jump the current tax code, all 9 million gory words of it, and replaces it with a single rate, with generous exemptions for adults and for kids. A family of four, for instance, would pay no federal income tax on your first $46,000 of income, no tax on your savings, no death taxes. On the business side, it would reduce the rate from 35 percent to 17 percent. My flat rate would be 17 percent. It would also get rid of depreciation schedules. So, if you make a capital investment—you know, build a plant or buy a computer or truck—you would expense it in the year in which you make it, instead of over several years. . . . You’d see the economy take off like a rocket.

Interview with Crystal Lu, Wharton Magazine, November 7, 2014.

Gay Rights

My father {Malcolm Forbes] had his life. We respected it. What he meant to us and to others I think speaks for itself. You don’t have to approve of something that someone does to have compassion and love.

Reported by Stephen McFarland, New York Daily News, March 1, 1996.

Q: Would you hire qualified men and women to work in your administration, who are openly gay?

A: I will hire people who are qualified for the job, people who can do the work at hand; people who are there to get something done. If a person wants a job to make a statement, they’re not going to get it. If a person wants a job because they’re qualified and [share my] principles and philosophy, they will be actively considered for it. I believe in equal rights for all, special rights for none.

Republican Party Presidential Nomination Debate, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 29, 1999.

Government Spending

Don’t back down in the face of mounting surpluses. Hold the line. Keeping the budget caps is the right way to provide a dramatic tax cut and to save Social Security.

Reported in “Economic Security,” Forbes, May 21, 1999.

Great Depression

The real cause of the beginning of the Great Depression was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. This shocking and totally unprecedented legislation ended up imposing an average 60 percent tax on more than 3,000 import items. It was the equivalent of exploding a bomb that devastated the global trading system.

Inflation: What It Is, Why It’s Bad, and How to Fix It, with Nathan Lewis and Elizabeth Ames (2022).

Health Care

Q. Going back to healthcare, you don’t believe there should be a public option?

A. Well that’s government, and I’ve seen what the government has done to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, housing. And what they should do, instead, is remove barriers to people buying insurance around the country. If you live here in Philadelphia, it’s illegal for you to buy insurance in New York or New Jersey. You’re allowed to buy cars there. You’re allowed to open up brokerage accounts, banks accounts. Why can’t you buy health insurance? That way you’d get real competition. Right now each state erects its own barriers. A lot of states have very little competition.

Interview with Crystal Lu, Wharton Magazine, November 7, 2014.


How do you end inflation? The good news is that a nation doesn’t need tax hikes, super-high interest rates, horrible recessions—or even fishing restrictions. The way to do it, very simply, is to stabilize the value of money. How to achieve this? When a currency begins to slide, the first step should be for a government to publicly declare its intention to support its money, i.e., maintain its value. The way to do so is, very simply, by shrinking the monetary base.

Inflation: What It Is, Why It’s Bad, and How to Fix It, with Nathan Lewis and Elizabeth Ames (2022).

Imagine how tricky it would be to bake a cake if the recipe called for 45 minutes in the oven, and you had to figure out if those were nominal minutes or inflation-adjusted minutes.

Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy—and What We Can Do About It, with Elizabeth Ames (2014).

At the G-20 meeting in Paris in 2011, finance ministers expressed fears that U.S.-driven global inflation was threatening global stability. George Melloan was among those who made the connection between this unrest and QE. He acknowledged in the Wall Street Journal: “Probably few of the protesters in the streets connect their economic travail to Washington. But central bankers do.”

Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy—and What We Can Do About It, with Elizabeth Ames (2014).


The ultimate lesson of history—and of this book—is that no nation has ever gotten rich by eroding the value of its money.

Inflation: What It Is, Why It’s Bad, and How to Fix It, with Nathan Lewis and Elizabeth Ames (2022).

We need to keep the Federal Reserve from lurching into deflation or inflation. Remember, prosperity does not cause inflation. It’s time to link the value of our money to something stable and secure, like the price of gold. That will ensure that the Fed does not inadvertently put its thumb on the world’s windpipe, cause global currency turbulence, and cause commodity prices to be devastatingly low.

 A New Birth of Freedom: Vision for America (1999).

The only reliable compass [for monetary policy] is one using the gold price. This does not mean you buy the yellow metal. All you do is look at the price. If it [goes up], you’re printing too much money. If it [goes down], you’re being too tight. Is it a perfect compass? No. Is it better than the others? Yes. So I propose using gold as a compass. In this imperfect world, it is the most reliable one, whether you’re doing it right or doing it wrong. And that way we will get lower interest rates.

Speech, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, November 27, 1995.

Morality and Politics

Crime is not new. But Americans have rarely been so confused about right and wrong, about what is acceptable and what is to be forcefully condemned.

  • A free society cannot survive the collapse of the two-parent family or the absence of fathers
  • A free society cannot survive an unchecked explosion in violent crime
  • Nor can a free society survive a generation of crack babies and teenagers whose minds and bodies have been destroyed by illegal drugs.
A New Birth of Freedom: Vision for America (1999).

Obama Administration

The stimulus plan was a nice waste of money, most of it. If they wanted a true stimulus, they would have cut the payroll tax for a couple of years, which would have given people money instantly and also lowered the cost of employing people. So the dollar, taxes, trade, healthcare—I think we should be going [in] the opposite direction. Instead of a government takeover, we should have more patients control healthcare resources, not bureaucracies. And on energy, why not move to promote exploration for natural gas and developing nuclear energy? They are very slow so far in proposals to modernize the grid and if you want wind power, you better have transmission lines to move the electricity. They haven’t done that.

Interview with Crystal Lu, Wharton Magazine, November 7, 2014.

“Third Way” or Mixed Economy

Where some speak of a “Third Way,” let us pursue the right way—free markets, free elections, free trade—because these are the tools of a free people. It is time to show the world that the Reagan-Thatcher-Forbes model offers true economic liberation for those who languish in poverty and economic stagnation.

Speech, London, reported by Reuters , October 13, 1999.

Wealth Creation vs. Redistribution

[We should] give all Americans the freedom to create real personal wealth for themselves and their families. Creating personal wealth—not redistributing it—should be one of America’s highest priorities as we move into the new century. The real source of wealth and capital in this new era is not material things—it is the human mind, the human spirit, the human imagination, and our faith in the future. That’s the magic of a free society—everyone can move forward and prosper because wealth comes from within.

 A New Birth of Freedom: Vision for America (1999).