Saturday, August 14, 2010

Notable Quotables

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would 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 our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C. S. Lewis, British author
God in the Dock

The lessons of history can be summed up in four sentences.

1. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power.
2. The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small.
3. The bee fertilizes the flower it robs.
4. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.


Charles A. Beard, American historian

Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.

Harry Emerson Fosdick, American clergyman

When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.

Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged

The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.

Margaret Thatcher

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.

Ernest Hemingway

The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.

Vladimir Lenin

The worship of the state is the worship of force. There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men. The worst evils which mankind ever had to endure were inflicted by governments.

Ludwig von Mises, Austrian economist

It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.

Henry Ford, American industrialist

All famine is political.

Unknown

Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

Thomas Jefferson

In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

The Federalist – No. 51
[James Madison]

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand.

Milton Friedman, American economist and Nobel Prize recipient

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

Groucho Marx

The turn will come when we entrust the conduct of our affairs to men who understand that their first duty as public officials is to divest themselves of the power they have been given. It will come when Americans, in hundreds of communities throughout the nation, decide to put the man in office who is pledged to enforce the Constitution and restore the Republic. Who will proclaim in a campaign speech: “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

Barry Goldwater
The Conscience of a Conservative

What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.

Adam Smith

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

Mao Tse-tung

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!

Samuel Adams

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent – it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

George Washington

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.

Martin Luther King Jr.

If you take the King's shilling, you do the King's bidding.

English aphorism

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.

David Friedman, American economist and writer

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.


Attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, Scottish lawyer and writer

When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is completely insane.

Dave Barry, American writer

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

Ludwig von Mises, Austrian Economist

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress.

John Adams

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.

Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.

G. Gordon Liddy

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

Douglas Casey

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

P.J. O'Rourke, American writer

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.

Frederic Bastiat, French statesman and philosopher

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Ronald Reagan

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.

Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!

P.J. O'Rourke, American writer

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.

Voltaire

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!

Pericles

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.

Mark Twain

Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it.

Anonymous

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.

Winston Churchill

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.

Mark Twain

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.

Herbert Spencer, English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and political theorist

There is no distinctly Native American criminal class...save Congress.

Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.

Edward Langley, Painter

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

Aesop

Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value – zero.

Voltaire

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.

Patrick Henry

There are only two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by sword; the other is by debt.

John Adams

I believe the banking institutions having the issuing power of money are more dangerous to liberty than standing armies.

Thomas Jefferson

Communism has never come to power in a country that was not disrupted by war or corruption, or both.

John F. Kennedy

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

John F. Kennedy

Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

Robert A. Heinlein

The universe never did make sense; I suspect it was built on government contract.

Robert A. Heinlein

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The mischief springs from the power which the moneyed interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges which they have succeeded in obtaining in the different States, and which are employed altogether for their benefit; and unless you become more watchful in your States and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of Government have been given or bartered away, and the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations.

Andrew Jackson
Farewell Address

Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

Thomas Jefferson

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton

Debt has to be reckoned with one way or another. It either has to be repaid, or someone has to bear the losses on what cannot be repaid, either through default or inflation and currency debasement. It if were otherwise, everyone could be rich.

Charles Biderman

Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create deposits, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of Bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create deposits.

Sir Josiah Stamp, Former President of the Bank of England
University of Texas Commencement Address, 1927

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

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

John Adams

The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.

Thomas Jefferson

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.

But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.


John Quincy Adams
Address to Congress, July 4, 1821

The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor.

Ronald Reagan

People do not make wars; governments do.

Ronald Reagan

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Do not ever say that the desire to 'do good' by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.

Ayn Rand

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.

Mahatma Gandhi

War prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings.

Ludwig von Mises, Austrian economist

The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.

Bertrand Russell

I call on the young men of America who must make a choice today to take a stand on this issue. Tomorrow may be too late. The book may close. And don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, ‘You're too arrogant! And if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I'll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I'm God.’

Martin Luther King Jr.
Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, April 30, 1967, “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”

What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.

Adolf Hitler

Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns; why should we let them have ideas.

Joseph Stalin

Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.

Justice Joseph Story

I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman's club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.

H. L. Mencken

If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom.

Dwight Eisenhower

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Thomas Jefferson

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Thomas Jefferson
First Inaugural Address, 1801

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security.

James Madison
Letter to Henry Lee, 1824

The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting, with noiseless foot, and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding what it gains, is engulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them.

Thomas Jefferson
Letter to Judge Spencer Roane, 1821

Every time that we try to lift a problem from our own shoulders, and shift that problem to the hands of the government, to the same extent we are sacrificing the liberties of our people.

John F. Kennedy

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

Jimi Hendrix

I heartedly accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least;' and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, 'That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

Henry David Thoreau

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

H. L. Mencken

If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.


James Madison

By a continuing process of inflation, Governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some ... Those to whom the system brings windfalls ... become "profiteers" who are the object of the hatred ... the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery ... Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society then to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

John Maynard Keynes, British economist

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of govenment to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talent, of education , or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society - the farmers, mechanics, and laborers - who have neither the time nor the means of securing favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favor alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.

Andrew Jackson
Veto of the Bank of the United States charter

It's a fucking valuable thing; you just don't give it away for nothing.

Rod Blagojevich, Former Illinois Governor discussing the replacement for the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama

I have solved this political dilemma in a very direct way: I don't vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, 'If you don't vote, you have no right to complain,' but where's the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote – who did not even leave the house on Election Day – am in no way responsible for what these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.

George Carlin

What a wonderful world it would be if everyone accepted the simple moral premise of rejecting all acts of aggression. The retort to such a suggestion is always: it’s too simplistic, too idealistic, impractical, naïve, utopian, dangerous, and unrealistic to strive for such an ideal.

The answer to that is that for thousands of years the acceptance of government force, to rule over the people, at the sacrifice of liberty, was considered moral and the only available option for achieving peace and prosperity.

What could be more utopian than that myth – considering the results especially looking at the state sponsored killing, by nearly every government during the 20th Century, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions. It’s time to reconsider this grant of authority to the state.

No good has ever come from granting monopoly power to the state to use aggression against the people to arbitrarily mold human behavior. Such power, when left unchecked, becomes the seed of an ugly tyranny. This method of governance has been adequately tested, and the results are in: reality dictates we try liberty.

The idealism of non-aggression and rejecting all offensive use of force should be tried. The idealism of government sanctioned violence has been abused throughout history and is the primary source of poverty and war. The theory of a society being based on individual freedom has been around for a long time. It’s time to take a bold step and actually permit it by advancing this cause, rather than taking a step backwards as some would like us to do.


Ron Paul

Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If you're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.

P.J. O'Rourke, American writer

The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves.

Lysander Spooner

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business. Government shouldn't play a part in everyday life. Jefferson said that the people should be left to manage their own afffairs. His opposition will bear careful analysis, and the country could stand a good deal more of its application. The trouble with us is we talk about Jefferson, but we do not follow him. In this theory that the people should manage their government, and not be managed by it, he was everlastingly right.

Calvin Coolidge

These are the times that try men’s souls: the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: Tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to set proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has right [not only to tax but] ‘to bind us in all cases whatsoever’ and if being bound in that manner is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon the earth. Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

Thomas Paine

The power of the sword, say the minority..., is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for The powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but where, I trust in God, it will always remain, in the hands of the people.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788

'Need' is never a metric used to determine the exercise of a right.

'Need,' ... is an artificial value judgment imposed by one person on another. In other words: Tyranny.

You do not get to determine what I need any more than I get to determine what you need. The list of items we possess, and actions we indulge in, that are 'un-needed' and potentially (or even demonstrably) dangerous is endless.

A freedom to choose things outside of our "'needs' is what it means to have self-determination and freedom. Unless someone's exercise of that choice directly infringes on another's freedom, it should not be a consideration of the State or any other person what that choice may be.

'Need' is not the justification I must make to live my life.


Brian Compton
Baytown, Texas

A gold-coin standard provides the people with direct control over the government's use and abuse of the public purse.... When governments or banks issue money or other promises to pay in a manner that raises doubts as to their value compared to gold, those people entertaining such doubts will demand gold in lieu of ... paper money, or bank deposits.... The gold-coin standard thus places in the hands of every individual who uses money some power to express his approval or disapproval of the government's management of the people's monetary and fiscal affairs.

Walter E. Spahr
Monetary Notes

There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.

The Federalist – No. 78
[Alexander Hamilton]

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

The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

Justice Joseph Story

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

H. L. Mencken

On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

Thomas Jefferson

The proposal [for the wording of the Second Amendment] finally passed the House in its present form: ‘A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’ In this form it was submitted into the Senate, which passed it the following day. The Senate in the process indicated its intent that the right be an individual one, for private purposes, by rejecting an amendment which would have limited the keeping and bearing of arms to bearing ‘for the common defense’... The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half-century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner.

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-Seventh Congress, Second Session, February, 1982, pp. 9, 17.

The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meet.

Will Rogers

How could a large bank, constituted on essentially the same principles, be expected to regulate beneficially the lesser banks? Has enlarged power been found to be less liable to abuse than limited power? Has concentrated power been found less liable to abuse than distributed power?

Samuel Tilden, Former New York Governor

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.

James Madison

Why is patriotism thought to be blind loyalty to the government and the politicians who run it, rather than loyalty to the principles of liberty and support for the people? Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong.

Ron Paul

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.


United States Code, title 10, §311

It must be recognized that there now exists in this land of liberty virtually every institution of state power necessary to totalitarianism with the possible exception of a national police force.

Karl Hess

One may ask, ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’

Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from the Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.

Robert A. Heinlein
Starship Troopers

Let me make a short, opening, blanket comment. There are no good guns. There are no bad guns. Any guns in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody - except bad people.

Charlton Heston
Meet the Press, May 18, 1997
After a shooting, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.

William S. Burroughs

It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.


Thomas Sowell

It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we’re compassionate we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.


Penn Jillette

Libertarianism is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral, or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory, that is, the important subset of moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social life. Political theory deals with what is proper or improper for government to do, and government is distinguished from every other group in society as being the institution of organized violence. Libertarianism holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit except invade the person or property of another. What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism.

Murray Rothbard


Scientific progress makes moral progress a necessity; for if man's power is increased, the checks that restrain him from abusing it must be strengthened.
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein
Swiss author


Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.

Will Rogers

The very idea of law originates in men's natural rights. There is no other standard, than natural rights, by which civil law can be measured. Law has always been the name of that rule or principle of justice, which protects those rights. Thus we speak of natural law. Natural law, in fact, constitutes the great body of the law that is professedly administered by judicial tribunals: and it always necessarily must be ‑‑ for it is impossible to anticipate a thousandth part of the cases that arise, so as to enact a special law for them. Wherever the cases have not been thus anticipated, the natural law prevails. We thus politically and judicially recognize the principle of law as originating in the nature and rights of men. By recognizing it as originating in the nature of men, we recognize it as a principle, that is necessarily as immutable, and as indestructible as the nature of man. We also, in the same way, recognize the impartiality and universality of its application.


Lysander Spooner
The Unconstitutionality of Slavery


It is this disposition to decide off-hand that some people are not fit for liberty and self-government which gives relative truth to the doctrine that all men are equal, and inasmuch as the history of mankind has been one long story of the abuse of some by others, who, of course, smoothed over their tyranny by some beautiful doctrines of religion, or ethics, or political philosophy, which proved that it was all for the best good of the oppressed, therefore the doctrine that all men are equal has come to stand as one of the corner-stones of the temple of justice and truth. It was set up as a bar to just this notion that we are so much better than others that it is liberty for them to be governed by us.

William Graham Sumner
The Conquest of the United States by Spain

The thirst for glory is an epidemic which robs a people of their judgment, seduces their vanity, cheats them of their interests, and corrupts their consciences.


William Graham Sumner
The Conquest of the United States by Spain

Power concedes nothing without 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 until they are resisted with either words or blows or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Thomas Paine

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