"There will never be
a free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual
as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority
are derived, and treats him accordingly."
- Henry David Thoreau, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience" (1849)
Men and governments
must act to the best of their ability. There is no such thing as absolute
certainty but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life.
- John Stuart Mill
Experience should teach
us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes
are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion
of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty
lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without
- Justice Louis Brandeis, "Olmstead v United States" (1928)
Goodness without wisdom
always accomplished evil.
- Robert A. Heinlein, "Stranger in a Strange Land"
What has always made
the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make
it his heaven.
- F Hoelderlin
The circumstanes are
what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind.
- Edmund Burke
It is in the power
of government to prevent much evil; it can do very little positive good.
- Edmund Burke
The ancient insanity
of governments: the mania of wishing to govern too much.
- Maximilien Robespierre
"Love your country
but fear its government."
"Where is it written
in the Constitution, in what section or clause is it contained, that you
may take children from their parents and parents from their children, and
compel them to fight the battle in any war in which the folly or the wickedness
of government may engage it?"
"Good intentions will
always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong
to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers
of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well,
but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean
to be masters."
- Daniel Webster
"Liberty without obedience
is confusion, and obedience without liberty is slavery... Rule the meek
meekly, and those that will not be ruled, rule with authority."
- William Penn, "Frame of Government"
"Necessity is the plea
for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants;
it is the creed of slaves."
The greatest danger to
liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful
in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively
concerned with what they regard as the public good.
Eternal vigilance is the
price of freedom.
- Thomas Jefferson
It is not the function
of the government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the
function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.
- U.S. Supreme Court
Justice Robert H. Jackson, 1950.
"Do the dayís work. If
it be to protect the rights of the weak, whoever objects, do it. If it
be to help a powerful corporation better to serve the people, whatever
the opposition, do that. Expect to be called a standpatter, but donít be
a standpatter. Expect to be called a demagogue but donít be a demagogue.
Donít hesitate to be as revolutionary as science. Donít hesitate to be
as reactionary as the multiplication table. Donít expect to build up the
weak by pulling down the strong. Donít hurry to legislate. Give administration
a chance to catch up with legislation."
- Calvin Coolidge
"As nightfall does
not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is
a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such
twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air, however slight,
lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
- Justice William
If you want a picture
of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever - and
remember that it is forever.
- George Orwell
"The worst evils which
mankind has ever had to endure were inflicted by bad governments. The state
can be and has often been in the course of history the main source of mischief
The state is the coldest
of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies, too; and this lie creeps from its
mouth: `I, the state, am the people.'... Everything about it is false;
it bites with stolen teeth.
- Frederich Nietzsche,
from "Thus Spake Zarathustra"
"By far the most numerous
and most flagrant violations of personal liberty and individual rights
are performed by governments. The major crimes throughout history, the
ones executed on the largest scale, have been committed not by individuals
or bands of individuals but by governments, as a deliberate policy of those
governments, that is, by the official representatives of governments, acting
in their official capacity."
One of the many reasons
for the bewildering and tragic character of human existence is the fact
that social organization is at once necessary and fatal. Men are forever
creating such organizations for their own convenience and forever finding
themselves the victims of their home-made monsters.
- Aldous Huxley
"Power concedes nothing
without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people
will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and
wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they
have resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants
are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they suppress."
"We must accept legitimate
authority. Else society ablates itself until people welcome the warlord
who will enforce a brutal kind of order that at least gives them security.
The problem is not what makes a government legitimate. There have been
many ways in history, royal or noble birth, priestliness, popular vote,
a sociological theory, et cetera, et cetera. The problem is, how does a
government keep legitimacy? How does it lose it? I say the breakdown comes
when it begins doing more to people than *for* them. This has happened,
it is happening, in more and more countries on Earth. In space, the disorder
that soon or late follows breakdown, it would mean extinction."
- Edmond Beynac, in "The Stars Are Also Fire" by Poul Anderson
Government: An organization
that has the privilege of using force on persons who have not harmed anyone.
- Richard Maybury
If you think of yourselves
as helpless and ineffectual, it is certain that you will create a despotic
government to be your master. The wise despot, therefore, maintains among
his subjects a popular sense that they are helpless and ineffectual.
- Frank Herbert,
"The Dosadi Experiment"
An important art of politcians
is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become
odious to the public.
"The past has lobbyists
who protect what they already have; the future is unrepresented unless
- Newt Gingrich
"At what point shall
we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against
it? Shall we expect some trans-Atlantic military giant to step the ocean
and crush us with a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa
combined with a Bonaparte at their head and disposing of all the treasure
of the earth, our own excepted, could not by force make a track on the
Blue Ridge or take a drink from the Ohio in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer,
if it ever reach us it must spring up from amongst us. It cannot come from
abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and
finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live through all times, or die
"If Big Brother (of Orwell's
1984) comes to America, he will not be a fearsome, foreboding figure with
a heart-chilling, omnipresent glare as in 1984. He will come with a smile
on his face, a quip on his lips, a wave to the crowd, and a press that
(a) dutifully reports the suppressive measures he is taking to save the
nation from internal chaos and foreign threat; and (b) gingerly questions
whether he will be able to succeed."
- Michael Parenti,
"Inventing Reality" (1986)
"Society is produced by
our wants, and government by our wickedness."
- Thomas Paine, "Common
"Power tends to corrupt,
and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Liberty is not a means to a higher
political end. It is itself the highest political end."
- Lord Acton (1887)
The less a government
does, the fewer reasons there are for individuals, businesses, universities,
and state and local governments to petition their government for special
- National Review
The direct use of physical
force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it
is commonly employed only by small children and great nations.
Force always attracts
men of low morality.
"The truth is that all
men having power ought to be mistrusted."
"Power corrupts. But it
does more than that. Power attracts the corrupt, then corrupts them further."
The danger is not that
a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.
- Lord Acton
Madness is rare in individuals,
but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
You know, if government
were a product, selling it would be illegal. Government is a health hazard.
Governments have killed many more people than cigarettes or unbuckled seat
belts ever have.
- PJ O'Rourke, "The
Government does not cause
affluence. Citizens of totalitarian countries have plenty of government
and nothing of anything else.
- PJ O'Rourke, "Eat
"The object of all government
is roast mutton, potatoes, claret, a stout constable, an honest justice,
clear highways, a free chapel."
- Syndey Smith
Government can do something
for the people only in proportion as it can do something to the people.
A government that is big
enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.
- Barry Goldwater
It is much more important
to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.
You do not examine legislation
in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but
in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if
- Lyndon B. Johnson
Whatever power you give
to the good cops, goes to the bad ones, too. Never forget that.
- Phillip J. Birmingham
Never blame a legislative
body for not doing something. When they do nothing, that don't hurt anybody.
When they do something is when they become dangerous.
- Will Rogers
A little government and
a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.
Dost thou not know,
my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?
- Count Oxenstierna
History suggests that
the cause of national decline is, as a rule, that the state in the nation
concerned has sought to do too much rather than too little. This applies
as much to the Roman Empire as to the Spanish.
- Hugh Thomas, "An
Unfinished History of the World"
Collectivism is not inherently
democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrranical minority such powers
as the Spanish Inquisition never dreamt of.
- George Orwell
"A wise and frugal
government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall
leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and
improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has
earned. This is the sum of good government."
"My reading of history
convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.That
government is best which governs least."
- Thomas Jefferson
That government is best
which governs not at all.
- Henry David Thoreau.
Society in every state
is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary
evil, in its worst state an intolerable one.
- Thomas Paine
Government exists to protect
us from each other. Where Government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding
to protect us from ourselves.
- Ronald Reagan
The whole aim of practical
politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led
to safety - by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of
- H. L. Mencken
Today, when a concerted
effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often
that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private
individuals - that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals,
only the conduct of the government - that it is not a charter for government
power, but a charter of the citizens' protection against the government.
- Ayn Rand
The only proper purpose
of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him
from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting
as an agent of man's self-defense, and, as such, may only resort to force
only against those who start the use of force.
- Ayn Rand, "Atlas
"The government consists
of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another,
no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent
for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to
search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to
promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth
nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other
words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of
an advance auction sale of stolen goods."
- H. L. Mencken
"The preservation of freedom
is the protective reason for limiting and decentralizing governmental power.
But there is also a constructive reason. The great advances of civilization,
whether in architecture or painting, in science or in literature, in industry
or agriculture, have never come from centralized government."
"Government power must
be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the county
than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. If I do not
like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning,
or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take
this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what
Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations."
- Milton Friedman,
"Capitalism and Freedom"
Think of what big governments
have gotten up to in this century : not one, but two world wars, the gulag,
the holocaust, aerial bombing of civilian population centers, the Berlin
Wall, nuclear explosions, the post office. A wicked individual might want
these, but he wouldn't have the cash and connections to get them. A villainous
corporation could afford them but has to market the products. The Vietnam
draft would be a tough sell for even the most fiendish businessmen. "Get
shot! Get killed! Get diseases from foreign women who despise you in their
Politics doesn't work.
Look at the parts of America where government has had the most power, where
government has spent the most money. Look at the housing projects we've
got the poor people in.
- Pj O'Rourke, "Age
"Society is produced by
our wants, and government by our wickedness."
- Thomas Paine
Can you imagine working
at the following Company? It has a little over 500 employees with the following
statistics: 29 have been accused of spousal abuse. 7 have been arrested
for fraud. 19 have been accused of writing bad checks. 117 have bankrupted
at least two businesses. 3 have been arrested for assult. 71 cannot get
a credit card due to bad credit. 14 have been arrested on drug-related
charges. 8 have been arrested for shoplifting. 21 are current defendants
in law suits. 84 were stopped for drunk driving in 1998 alone.
Can you guess which
organization this is? Give up? It's the 535 members of your United States
Congress. The same group that perpetually cranks out hundreds upon hundreds
of new laws designed to keep the rest of us in line.
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