In his 1864 book “Capital and Labor,” Ferdinand Lassalle wrote on the description of capital income as “wages of abstinence,” i.e. payment for abstaining from consumption. What he had to say is one of the funniest things ever written on the topic:
The profit of capital is the ‘wage of abstinence.’ Happy, even priceless expression! The ascetic millionaires of Europe! Like Indian penitents or pillar saints they stand on one leg, each on his column, with straining arms and pendulous body and pallid looks, holding a plate towards the people to collect the wages of their abstinence. In their midst, towering up above all his fellows, as head penitent and ascetic, the Baron Rothschild! This is the condition of Society! How could I ever so much misunderstand it!