Monday, 15 July 2013

Quotes of the Day: On Politics…

After I posted a bunch of quotes on bureaucracy last week, I was sent a few more on politics…

It is the responsibility of every citizen to ignore dumb laws.
       — Ian Clarke – aka Sanity []

Politics on the internet, it’s like Jupiter's great red spot, except made of faeces.
        — cutsDwnSudoIntelects []

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.
        — Milton Friedman

Revolution is the opium of the intellectuals.
        — Jerzy Peterkiewicz

The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.
        — Thomas Sowell

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
        — George Orwell

Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have…  The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.
        — Thomas Jefferson

As Isaac Asimov put it (wording approximate): “If I must be ruled by larcenous bullies, I much prefer that they be located far away. Local bullies know far more about me and my doings than faraway bullies sitting in offices in Washington, and can oppress me far more effectively.”
        — Henry Spencer []

Socialism doesn’t start with concentration camps …. Full employment is a threat, not a promise.
        — Maht

I want people to take thought about their condition and to recognize that the maintenance of a free society is a very difficult and complicated thing and it requires a self-denying ordinance of the most extreme kind. It requires a willingness to put up with temporary evils on the basis of the subtle and sophisticated understanding that if you step in to do something about them you not only may make them worse, you will spread your tentacles and get bad results elsewhere.
        — Milton Friedman

The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.
        — Milton Friedman

Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.
        — Milton Friedman

I’m a bureaucrat, everything has to be negated at first.
        — Christoph Lohmann

Bureaucracy is stronger than physics.
        — Christoph Lohmann

Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality – an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order.
        — F.A. Hayek

Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends. And whoever has sole control of the means must also determine which ends are to be served, which values are to be rates higher and which lower, in short, what men should believe and strive for.
        — F.A. Hayek

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.
        — John Adams, Journal 1772

All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
        — James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787.

All governments lie.
        — journalist I.F. Stone, addressing journalism students on the one truth they’d be well-advised always to recall.

Freedom includes the right to say what others may object to and resent… The essence of citizenship is to be tolerant of strong and provocative words.
        — John Diefenbaker

Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice… moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.
        — Karl Hess, as Barry Goldwater’s head speechwriter

Liberty is the breath of progress.
        — Robert Ingersoll

The United States is a nation of laws, poorly written and randomly enforced.
        — Frank Zappa

Formerly we suffered from crimes; now we suffer from laws.
        — Publius Cornelius Tacitus

The more corrupt the republic, the more numerous the laws.
        — Cornelius Tacitus, 55-117 AD, Roman historian

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.
        — Alexander Hamilton

The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.
        — Lao Tsu

There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana. $7.7 billion is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven’t even included the harm to young people. It’s absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes.
        — Milton Friedman

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.
        — Alexis De Tocqueville

The behaviour of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.
        — Robert Conquest’s Second Law of Politics

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
        — HL Mencken

Every society honours its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.
        — Mignon McLaughlin

The art of taking money from the few and votes from the many under the pretext of protecting the one from the other.
        — Sen. Matthew Quay (R-PA), quoted in Realigning America: Mckinley, Bryan, and the Remarkable Election of 1896 by R. Hal Williams.

[The] free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.
        — Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri [1998], Commissioner Pravin Lal

A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul.
        — George Bernard Shaw

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.
        — P.J. O'Rourke

I would rather live in a society which treated children as adults than one which treated adults as children.
        — Lizard

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 them imaginary.
        — H.L. Mencken

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
        — Plato

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which [the American] founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.
        — Charles Austin Beard, historian

They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. And then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.
        — Rev. Martin Niemoeller, a Protestant minister in Nazi Germany, in 1945

When they took the fourth amendment, I was silent because I don’t deal drugs.
When they took the sixth amendment, I kept quiet because I know I’m innocent.
When they took the second amendment, I said nothing because I don’t own a gun.
Now they’ve come for the first amendment, and I can’t say anything at all.
        — Tim Freeman

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

Virtually all reasonable laws are obeyed, not because they are the law, but because reasonable people would do that anyway. If you obey a law simply because it is the law, that’s a pretty likely sign that it shouldn’t be a law.
        — unkown

The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but it’s a whole lot better than what we have now.
        — unkown

It’s dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
        — unkown

The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.
        — Fredric Bastiat, early French economist

I guess you will have to go to jail. If that is the result of not understanding the Income Tax Law, I will meet you there. We shall have a merry, merry time, for all our friends will be there. It will be an intellectual centre, for no one understands the Income Tax Law except persons who have not sufficient intelligence to understand the questions that arise under it.
        — Senator Elihu Root of NY, 1913

[The makers of the Constitution] conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone – the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.
        — Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, 1928

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial … the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.
        — Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, 1928

Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge where there is no river.
        — Nikita Khrushchev

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.”
        — Albert Einstein, “My First Impression of the U.S.A.”, 1921

I think the terror most people are concerned with is the IRS.
        — Malcolm Forbes, when asked if he was afraid of terrorism

Let the people decide through the marketplace mechanism what they wish to see and hear. Why is there this national obsession to tamper with this box of transistors and tubes when we don’t do the same for Time magazine?
        — Mark Fowler, FCC Chairman

Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.
        — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark – Mapp vs. Ohio

The State must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.
        — Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

No man has ever ruled other men for their own good.
        — George D. Herron

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 labour the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicity.
        — Thomas Jefferson

Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliance with none.
        — Thomas Jefferson

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.
        — Thomas Jefferson

That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.
        — Thomas Jefferson

The care of every man’s soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well, what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills.
        — Thomas Jefferson

History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.
        — Thomas Jefferson

It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
        — Thomas Jefferson

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
        — Thomas Jefferson

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
        — Abraham Lincoln

Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.
        — Abraham Lincoln

There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.
        — James Madison

The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of any of their number is self-protection.
        — John Stuart Mill, 1859

Taxation of earnings from labour is on a par with forced labour. Seizing the results of someone’s labour is equivalent to seizing hours from him and directing him to carry on various activities.
        — Robert Nozick, Harvard philosopher

Alcohol didn’t cause the high crime rates of the ‘20s and '30s, Prohibition did. And drugs do not cause today’s alarming crime rates, but drug prohibition does.
        — unkown

Trying to wage war on 23 million Americans who are obviously very committed to certain recreational activities is not going to be any more successful than Prohibition was.
        — US District Judge James C. Paine, addressing the Federal Bar Association in Miami, November, 1991

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
        — William Pitt, 18 Nov 1783

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’
        -— Isaac Asimov

Plea bargaining – where the innocent are more guilty, and the guilty more innocent! The upswing is it does an awesome job padding those all important conviction stats for DAs and politicians!

        — CommentMan []

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.
        — Hannah Arendt

Liberal institutions straightway cease being liberal the moment they are soundly established: Once this is attained, no more grievous and more thorough enemies of freedom exist than liberal institutions.
        — Nietzsche

I am interested in politics so that one day I will not have to be interested in politics.
        — Ayn Rand

I oppose registration for the draft… because I believe the security of freedom can best be achieved by security through freedom.
        — Ronald Reagan

Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others: The Constitution of this Republic should make a special privilege for medical freedom as well as religious freedom.
        — Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence

You can always rely on government to make the right decision, but only after it has exhausted every other conceivable alternative.
        — E. S. Savas, a management professor at Baruch College in New York

Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.
        — Joseph Stalin

It’s illegal to say to a voter “Here’s $100, vote for me.” So what do the politicians do? They offer the $100 in the form of Health Care, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Food Stamps, tobacco subsidies, grain payments, NEA payments, and jobs programs.
        — Don Farrar

We propose a five-word constitutional amendment: There shall be open borders. People are the great resource, and so long as we keep our economy free, more people means more growth, the more the merrier. Study after study shows that even the most recent immigrants give more than they take.
        — Wall Street Journal

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.
        — George Washington

It is our true policy to steer clear of entangling alliances with any portion of the foreign world. The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.
        — George Washington

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?
        — Daniel Webster

National Health Insurance means combining the efficiency of the Postal Service with the compassion of the I.R.S. …. and the cost accounting of the Pentagon.
        — Louis Sullivan/Connie Horner quoted by Novak in Forbes

Most of the presidential candidates' economic packages involve ‘tax breaks,’ which is when the government, amid great fanfare, generously decides not to take quite so much of your income. In other words, these candidates are trying to buy your votes with your own money.
        — Dave Barry

Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds.
        — John Perry Barlow

Cryptography shifts the balance of power from those with a monopoly on violence to those who comprehend mathematics and security design.
        — Jacob Appelbaum

To err is human, but to really screw things up requires a design committee of bureaucrats.
        — Henry Spencer

They who can give up essential liberty for temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
        — Benjamin Franklin

If you can’t do, teach,
If you can’t teach, administrate,
If you can’t administrate, go into politics,
If you can’t get elected, go to work for the government.
        — unkown

It is sort of interesting that in our society these days we are very quick to apply the term ‘war’ to places where there are no actual wars, and loath to apply the term ‘war’ when we are actually fighting wars.
        — Bruce Schneier

Socialism can be put into practice only by methods which most socialists disapprove.
        — F.A. Hayek

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
        — C.S. Lewis, “God in the Dock”

Of course drugs need to be controlled, just as alcohol, tobacco, firearms, prescription drugs, food additives and indeed UN bureaucrats with massive budgets need to be controlled.
        — Matthew Engel [,dwp_uuid=a712eb94-dc2b-11da-890d-0000779e2340,print=yes.html]

I was struck by the similarities between the anti-drug movement and crack addicts. Both live in fear of ill-defined phantoms. They also tend to have short attention spans, be committed to repeating past mistakes and have a seeming inability to admit responsibility for the problems they create.
        — Tom Feiling

A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound. The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole.
        — Frank Zappa

Societies without a reservoir of people who don’t follow the rules lack an important mechanism for societal evolution. Vibrant societies need a dishonest minority; if society makes its dishonest minority too small, it stifles dissent as well as common crime.
        — Bruce Schneier

The only freedom which counts is the freedom to do what some other people think to be wrong. There is no point in demanding freedom to do that which all will applaud. All the so-called liberties or rights are things which have to be asserted against others who claim that if such things are to be allowed their own rights are infringed or their own liberties threatened. This is always true, even when we speak of the freedom to worship, of the right of free speech or association, or of public assembly. If we are to allow freedoms at all there will constantly be complaints that either the liberty itself or the way in which it is exercised is being abused, and, if it is a genuine freedom, these complaints will often be justified. There is no way of having a free society in which there is not abuse. Abuse is the very hallmark of liberty.
        — Lord Chief Justice Halisham

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannise will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.
        — Voltaire

As a rule of thumb, anything particularly ridiculous in an otherwise reasonable context is probably due to a law.
        — TheWama –

I am a citizen, not of Athens, or Greece, but of the world.
        — Socrates (5th Century B.C.)

It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.
        — John Adams

People are pissed off about the seemingly impossible goal of social mobility. Their proposed solution is to take the wheels off the cart.
        — Stanley Lieber

Sisyphus only get the rock-rolling job after the gods showed mercy, he was originally sentenced to an eternity of political debates.
        — unkown

Politicians like to panic, they need activity. It is their substitute for achievement.
        — Sir Humphrey Appleby

[Hat tip Quotes.Cat]


  1. It seems the oldest of these are the most relevant oday - some incredibly so, e.g. Hamilton's "laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read" (witness Obamacare), Lincoln's "You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich (welfare state, antitrust laws, etc.)" and John Adams' "if innocence itself is brought to the bar...that would be the end of security whatsoever" (Zimmerman trial).

  2. "Formerly we suffered from crimes; now we suffer from laws. " Are you sure that is a quote of Tacitus? Do you know the source or did you just pick it up from someone else who said it was a quote?


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