A democracy cannot
exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters
discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury.
From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising
the most benefits from the Public Treasury with the result that a democracy
always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by dictatorship.
- Alexander Tyler,"The
Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic"
People once blamed or
thanked God for everything that happened beyond their control. Now we blame
or thank Government instead.
- Peter Hitchens, "The Express"
We know from history
that every new program creates constituencies who will fight like hell
to prevent a final, program-ending, victory. The war on poverty did much
good and much bad, but it didn't solve poverty in part because those who
were invested in the war kept redefining the poverty upwards so they could
keep waging war against it.
- Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"
Mere parsimony is not
economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.
- Edmund Burke
Can the real Constitution
be restored? Probably not. Too many Americans depend on government money
under programs the Constitution doesn't authorize, and money talks with
an eloquence Shakespeare could only envy. Ignorant people don't understand
The Federalist Papers, but they understand government cheques with their
names on them.
- Joseph Sobran
"The optimist view
of politics assumes that there must be some remedy for every political
ill, and rather than not find it, will make two hardships to cure one."
- Lord Salisbury
"Nothing is so permanent
as a temporary government program."
Faced with some problem
or other, one of Margaret Thatcher's colleagues proposed creating a special
cabinet department to deal with it. "Good God, no," said the Prime Minister.
"Then we'll never get rid of it."
- Mark Steyn
Forecasting by bureaucrats
tends to be used for anxiety relief rather than for adequate policy making.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, "The Black Swan"
"No man's life, liberty,
or property are safe while the legislature is in session."
- Mark Twain (or Thomas
"No one who's seen it
in action can say the phrase "government help" without either laughing
- Mark Twain
that “no man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature
is in session,” so he wisely insisted that the capital be built in malarial
swampland. Consequently, the seat of the government remained empty for
nearly half the year. Today, thanks in part to the unintended consequences
of air-conditioning, we have permanent government of career politicians,
a thing the Founders never intended and which sees no natural boundary
to its authority.
- Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"
"A man is likely to
mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes
his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business."
- Eric Hoffer
"It is a general popular
error to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be the most
anxious for its welfare."
- Edmund Burke, "The
Present State of the Nation"
"In the United Kindgom
we have a basically nonconformist conscience, and the face that taxation,
controls amd certain features of the Welfare State have turned the majority
of us into petty criminals, liars and work-dodgers is, I am sure, having
a bad effect on the psyche of the kingdom."
- Iam Fleming, creator of James Bond
Whenever I say to someone
that I do not believe that there is a universal human right to healthcare,
that person always asks whether, then, I want to see people dying in the
street from treatable disease. I in turn ask that person whether he can
think of any reason for not allowing people to die in the street other
than that they have a right to treatment. The fact that, as often as not,
the person has great difficulty with this question suggests not only that
our state, but our minds and moral imaginations have become highly bureaucratised.
- Theodore Dalrymple, "The Spectator"
Having worked in the
British public service for the last decade and a half, perhaps I am hypersensitive
to untruth and react to it as someone who is allergic to peanuts reacts
to peanuts. This is unfortunate because, like peanuts, untruth is everywhere.
I think all governmental pronouncements should carry a warning for people
like me: ‘May contain traces of untruth.’
- Theodore Dalrymple, "The Spectator"
Human beings will always
shape their daily world in a way that makes life bearable for them and
their closest families. In some countries it is through corruption, in
others through ignoring the rules, cheating them or simply paying up. Anybody
in government should have a sign by their desk saying "People do whatever
- Libby Purves, "The Times"
"The size of the federal
budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable
- President Ronald Reagan, 1981.
"If we have learned
anything in the past quarter century, it is that we cannot Federalize Virtue."
- President George Bush, 1991
Some people say there's
not enough generosity to take care of all needs; therefore, we need government.
That proposition differs little from saying that if people do not give
enough voluntarily, then government intimidation, threats, and coercion
should be used to take their money. Good people must ask if that proposition
should serve as the foundation for a moral society.
- Walter Williams
The nine most terrifying
words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here
- Ronald Reagan, 1986.
Everything the government
touches turns to crap; It's called the 'Reverse Midas Touch'.
- Paul Craig Roberts, Cato Institute
"For every human problem
there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."
- H. L. Mencken
"The greatest harm
can result from the best intentions. Kindness and good intentions can be
an insidious path to destruction."
- Terry Goodkind
"Half the harm that
is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They
don't mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do
not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless
struggle to think well of themselves."
- T.S. Eliot, 1950.
"The budget should
be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced,
the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the
assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt."
- Cicero, 63 BC
"Economic history is a
long record of government policies that failed because they were designed
with a bold disregard for the laws of economics."
"Any proposed policy,
or past policy, must be judged in terms of how it will in fact operate,
not how it might operate under ideal conditions."
Most of the energy of
political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of
- PBS, "Firing Line,"
October 9, 1988
"Nothing is easier than
spending public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody. The temptation
is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody."
- Calvin Coolidge
"Cures were developed
for which there were no known diseases."
- Ronald Reagan, on
Congress and the federal budget, 1981.
"Government does not solve
problems, it subsidizes them."
- Ronald Reagan
When a private entity
does not produce the desired results, it is (certain body parts excepted)
done away with. But a public entity gets bigger.
- PJ O'Rourke, "All the Trouble in the World"
The theory is that
election to Congress is tantamount to being dispatched to Washington on
a looting raid for the enrichment of your state or district, and no other
ethic need inhibit the feeding frenzy.
"Philosophers should consider
the fact that the greatest happiness principle can easily be made an excuse
for a benevolent dictatorship. We should replace it by a more modest and
more realistic principle - the principle that the fight against avoidable
misery should be a recognized aim of public policy, while the increase
of happiness should be left, in the main, to private initiative."
- Karl Popper
"The State is that great
fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.
Everyone wants to live at the expense of the State. They forget that the
State lives at the expense of everyone."
The amount of money required
to bring every poor person in the country above the official poverty line
is a fraction of what is spent by government on the welfare state. Put
bluntly, the poor are in effect being used as human shields in the political
wars over government spending, which extends far beyond anyone who could
even plausibly be called poor. Politicians will spend money wherever that
is likely to increase their chances of getting re-elected... The great
allure of government programs in general for many people is that these
programs allow decisions to be made without having to worry about the constraints
of prices, which confront people at every turn in a free market. They see
prices as just obstacles or nuisances, instead of seeing them as messages
conveying underlying realities that are there, whether or not prices are
allowed to function. But what politician wants to hear that? Politics is
- Thomas Sowell
Some rice farmers from
Congressman Ron Paul's district were in his office the other day, asking
for this and that from the federal government. The affable Republican from
south Texas listened nicely, then forwarded their requests to the appropriate
House committee. It may or may not satisfy their requests in some bill
dispensing largesse to agricultural interests. Then Paul will vote against
the bill. He believes, with more stubbornness than evidence, that the federal
government is a government of strictly enumerated powers, and nowhere in
the Constitution's enumeration (Article I, Section 8) can he find any reference
to rice. So there. "Farm organizations fight me tooth and nail," he says,
"but the farmers are with me."
- George F. Will, profiling former Libertarian candidate Ron Paul,"Newsweek"
The perception that
there were substantial flaws in the fabric of the welfare state was not
wrong. Why, in Britain, did social democratic education policy turn out
to give children of doctors and lawyers the right to go to Oxford without
paying for it? The system was flawed when social democratic industry policy
used the nationalized "commanding heights" of the economy not to accelerate
technological progress and keep employment high, but rather to retard the
shift of labor out of "sunset" industries.
- Brad de Long
As I was leaving for
the Housing Now! demonstration my wife said, "Will there be lots of people
from South Carolina at the housing march? Where Hurricane Hugo just destroyed
everybody's house?" I had to explain that there wouldn't be any people
from South Carolina in the march demanding houses from the government because
the people from South Carolina were too busy building houses for themselves.
- P.J. O'Rourke, "Parliament
"In recent years we have
witnessed numerous marches on Washington in which one group or another
has demanded new "rights." Frequently, such rights have not meant freedom
from state control, but rather entitlement to state action, protection,
or subsidy. In the process of yielding to the 'will of the people' and
creating new rights, the state invariably enlarges itself and its bureaucracy.
Each new right seems to demand a new agency to guarantee it, administer
it, or deliver it."
- John W. Whitehead,
"The Second American Revolution"
"With the federal deficit
running at several hundred billion dollars per year, Congress passed a
transportation bill that, according to news reports, includes $30 million
for a 'hightech' moving sidewalk in Altoona, which happens to be in the
district of Rep. 'Bud' Shuster, the ranking Republican on the surface transportation
"In 1983 $21 billion was
spent in agricultural subsidies - almost equal to the net income of all
- Patrick Detches,
letter to "The Register", 1984.
"If you have been voting
for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense,
then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it
to someone else, including themselves."
If you left it up to the
public, there would be hardly any art. Certainly there would be no big
art, such as the modernistic sculptures that infest many public parks.
You almost never hear members of the public saying, "Hey! Let's all voluntarily
chip in and pay a sculptor upwards of $100,000 to fill this park space
with what appears to be the rusted remains of a helicopter crash!" It takes
concerted government action to erect one of those babies.
Alexis de Tocqueville
found ours the most literate nation on earth, 30 years *before* the founding
of the first tax-funded school in Massachusetts.
"In 1870 there was 92
per cent literacy in England. Without compulsory education, you had to
learn in order to survive."
- Andrew Wilson, "The Daily Telegraph"
"Government is so incompetent,
it can't even give something away. Government may promise to give all students
a shot at a top college, but clearly it can't make unqualified students
qualified simply by forcing their admission to top schools."
"In 1940, teachers were
asked what they regarded as the three major problems in American schools.
They identified the three major problems as: Littering, noise, and chewing
gum. Teachers in 1993 were asked what the three major problems in American
schools were, and they defined them as: Rape, assault, and suicide."
Any reform that is acceptable
to the educational establishment, and that can gain a majority in a legislature,
federal or state, is bound to be worse than nothing.
- Irving Kristol's
first law of educational reform
"Have you ever noticed
how statists are constantly 'reforming' their own handiwork? Education
reform. Health-care reform. Welfare reform. Tax reform. The very fact that
they're always busy 'reforming' is an implicit admission that they didn't
get it right the first 50 times."
- Lawrence W. Reed,
"The University of North
Carolina gives more than $3 million in athletic scholarships yearly to
around 700 athletes, but only some $600,000 in academic merit scholarships
among the rest of its 15,000 students. Clemson University paid young black
men from Columbia, Sougt Carolina, to be on campus and pretend to be members
of a black fraternity so the university would look more appealing to visiting
Britain's National Health
Service hospitals make £78 million a year from parking fees — £63
million from patients and visitors and £15 million from their own
staff. Many charge the full rate for cancer sufferers who have to make
daily visits, MPs on the health select committee found. Parking rates vary
from 30p to £4 an hour and 24-hour stays cost up to £30. The
NCP short-stay car park at Gatwick costs £3.70 an hour while drivers
can park for £4 a day at Alton Towers. Relatives who cannot afford
to travel or park are charged up to 49p a minute to call patients' bedside
telephones while mobiles remain banned by most hospitals.
- from "The Times"
"The government is
good at one thing - it knows how to break your legs, and then hand you
a crutch and say 'see if it weren't for the government you wouldn't be
able to walk.'"
In the long run, the public
interest depends on private virtue.
"If you think health care
is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free."
But let us not forget
the moral dimension of health care reform. Everyone, rich or poor, needs
health care to live. And everyone, rich or poor, needs food to live. Therefore,
next year, the Clinton administration will introduce federal preparation
of everybody's breakfast.
- PJ O'Rourke, "Health
Care Reform" in Age And Guile
"A federally administered
health care system would have all the compassion of the IRS, the efficiency
of the Postal Service, and at Pentagon prices."
If even one new drug of
the stature of penicillin has been unjustifiably banished to a company's
back shelf because of exceedingly stringent regulatory requirements, that
event will have harmed more people than all the toxicity that has occurred
in the history of modern drug development."
"The higher entry standards
imposed by licensing laws reduce the supply of professional services. The
poor are the net losers, because the availability of low-cost service has
been reduced. In essence, the poor subsidize the information research costs
of the rich."
"As you increase the cost
of the license to practice medicine, you increase the price at which the
medical service must be sold and you correspondingly decrease the number
of people who can afford to buy the service."
-William Pusey, former
president, American Medical Association
I find it ironic that
many people who have spent years fighting to keep government from legislating
restrictions on the private medical decisions concerning abortion between
women and their physicians are now willing to effectively outlaw private
medical practice and place abortion, along with all other medical practice,
directly within the purview of government.
The task of weaning various
people and groups from the national nipple will not be easy. The sound
of whines, bawls, screams and invective will fill the air as the agony
of withdrawal pangs finds voice.
A 10-year-old could have
worked out how unviable this project was: but, of course, 10-year-olds
are short on testosterone and high on common sense.
- Kevin Myers, on Concorde, "The Telegraph"
It is often easier
for our children to obtain a gun than it is to find a good school.
- Joycelyn Elders
Maybe that's because guns
are sold at a profit, while schools are provided by the government.
- David Boaz
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