Category Archives: Politics
Criminals Are Never Disarmed — Robert Heinlein
Criminals are never materially handicapped by such rules;
the only effect is to disarm the peaceful citizen and put him fully at the mercy of the lawless.
Such rules look very pretty on paper; in practice they are as foolish and footless as the attempt of the mice to bell the cat.
Such is my thesis, that the licensing of weapons is subversive of liberty and self-defeating in its pious purpose.
— Robert Anson Heinlein, Letter to Alice Dalgliesh, the editor who was censoring his manuscript for Red Planet, regarding gun control registration and control
Power Attracts the Corrupt — Frank Herbert
All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts, but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.
— Frank Herbert, Dune
Under Democracy — H.L. Mencken
Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule — and both commonly succeed, and are right. The Coolidge Prosperity and the Hoover Economy of Plenty were quite as bad as the New Deal.
The United States has never developed an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsia really intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillations between two gangs of frauds.
— H.L. Mencken, Minority Report, p330 (1956)
Your Right to Not Support Evil <— Thomas Jefferson
To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical
— Thomas Jefferson, The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779)
…writing in the First Amendment’s sister document, expressing a principle that applies to the modern refusal to provide employees with services they consider immoral
Global Warming Shamanism <— P.J. O’Rourke
The bullying of fellow citizens by means of dreads and frights has been going on since paleolithic times. Greenpeace fund-raisers on the subject of global warming are not much different than tribal wizards on the subject of lunar eclipses.
“Oh no, the Night Wolf is eating the Moon Virgin.
Give me some silver and I’ll make him spit her out.”
— P.J.O’Rourke, All the Trouble in the World
The Squeaky Wheel…May Be Foolish <— Dave Nalle
It seems to be a persistent failing
that politicians listen to the loudest voices
rather than the wisest ones.
— Dave Nalle, RLC National Chairman
Disarming the Victims <— William S. Burroughs
After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.
I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.
— William S Burroughs, The War Universe (1992)
The Inconvenience of Too Much Liberty <— Jefferson
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it.
Then it is important to strengthen the state governments: and as this cannot be done by any change in the federal constitution…it must be done by the states themselves, erecting such barriers at the constitutional line as cannot be surmounted either by themselves or by the general
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to Archibald Stuart, on the need to defend States’ Rights against the Federal government
The Supreme Court, on Nipples <— Dave Barry
We need our highest judicial body to stop this childish bickering and get back to debating the kinds of weighty constitutional issues that have absorbed the court in recent years, such as whether a city can legally force an exotic dancer to cover her entire nipple, or just the part that pokes out.
— Dave Barry, Dave Barry is Not Making This Up
Information Must be Free <— Thomas Jefferson
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.
Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.
— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson (1813)
Err on the Side of Innocence <— Ben Franklin <— Blackstone
That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer, is a Maxim that has been long and generally approved.
— Benjamin Franklin, letter to Benjamin Vaughan (1785)
Many Laws = Corrupt Government <— Tacitus
The more numerous the laws,
the more corrupt the government.
— Publius Tacitus, Annals (117 AD)
(Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges)
Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land <– Leviticus
Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there.
It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan.
— Leviticus 25:10
Origin of the Quaker motto that was
inscribed on the Liberty Bell at the suggestion of Isaac Norris
Too Soon? Still Funny <– George Bernard Shaw
Life does not cease to be funny when people die
any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
— George Bernard Shaw, The Doctor’s Dilemma (1906)
An Unjust Law is No Law at All <– St. Augustine <– MLK Jr.
One may well 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 St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”.
— Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)
To Silence Dangerous Ideas <– Thomas Jefferson
If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
— Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address (1801)
The Founders’ Complaints Still Apply <– P.J. O’Rourke
There are twenty-seven specific complaints against the British Crown set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
To modern ears they still sound reasonable, in large part, because so many of them can be leveled against the federal government of the United States.
— P.J.O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores (1991)
Prefer Safety over Liberty? GO HOME <– Sam Adams
Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship, and plough, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood, and hunt us from the face of the earth?
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 set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
— Samuel Adams, Son of Liberty, in a speech given to the Philadelphia state house (1776)
Frequent Punishment Means a Corrupt Government <– Rousseau
In a well-governed state, there are few punishments, not because there are many pardons, but because criminals are rare; it is when a state is in decay that the multitudes of crimes is a guarantee of impunity.
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762)
Government’s Power to Give, is Its Power to Take <– Albert Jay Nock
You get the same order of criminality from any State to which you give power to exercise it;
and whatever power you give the State to do things for you carries with it the equivalent power to do things to you.
— Albert Jay Nock, The Criminality of the State (1939)
(note that the famous version is often misattributed to Jefferson, Goldwater, or Reagan, but is actually from Gerald Ford)
The Defense of Liberty <– Barry Goldwater
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
— Barry Goldwater, presidential nomination acceptance speech (1964)
Right and Left Wings of the Same Bird of Prey
After years of secret slavery the Republican Party and the Democratic Party come out into the open and reveal to themselves and to the nation as nothing but the right wing and the left wing of the same bird of prey.
There is not a word in either of their platforms that might not have been written and unanimously endorsed by a convention exclusively of corporation lawyers and Wall Street Bankers.
The only difference between these platforms as some one has remarked, is the number of words used to say nothing. Confronted by the gravest crisis in the history of civilization, they have demonstrated, even to their own adherents, that they are without the vision of statesmanship, the courage of leadership or the conviction of patriotism.
— Allen McCurdy, Keynotes for the Third Party National Convention (1920)
Arms Protect Your Property and Freedom <– Thomas Paine
These people are either too superstitiously religious, or too cowardly for arms; they either cannot or dare not defend; their property is open to any one who has the courage to attack them. Send but your troops and the prize is ours. Kill a few and take the whole. Thus the peaceable part of mankind will be continually overrun by the vile and abandoned, while they neglect the means of self defence.
The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property.
The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up.
Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong. The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.
— Thomas Paine, Thoughts on Defensive War (1774)
Conservatism is Libertarian <– Ronald Reagan
If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.
I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals — if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories.
The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.
— Ronald Reagan, interview with Reason Magazine (1975)
I’ll Defend, to the Death, Your Right <– Evelyn Beatrice Hall
‘What a fuss about an omelette!‘ he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that!
‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ was his attitude now.
— Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in The Friends of Voltaire, summarizing Voltaire’s defense of a censored book (1906)
The Flip-Flopping Moderate <– Mencken
Ostensibly he is an altruist devoted whole-heartedly to the service of his fellow-men, and so abjectly public-spirited that his private interest is nothing to him. Actually, he is a sturdy rogue whose principal, and often sole aim in life is to butter his parsnips.
His technical equipment consistes simply of an armamentarium of deceits.
It is his business to get and hold his job at all costs. If he can hold it by lying he will hold it by lying. if lying peters out he will try and hold it by embracing new truths.
His ear is ever close to the ground.
— H. L. Mencken on elected politicians, Notes on Democracy (1926)
Punishing the Industrious <– J.S. Mill
Both in England and on the Continent a graduated property tax (l’impôt progressif [progressive tax]) has been advocated, on the avowed ground that the state should use the instrument of taxation as a means of mitigating the inequalities of wealth.
I am as desirous as any one that means should be taken to diminish those inequalities, but not so as to relieve the prodigal at the expense of the prudent.
To tax the larger incomes at a higher percentage than the smaller is to lay a tax on industry and economy; to impose a penalty on people for having worked harder and saved more than their neighbours.
It is not the fortunes which are earned, but those which are unearned, that it is for the public good to place under limitation.
— John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy (1848)
Freedom vs the Chains of Security <– Ron Paul
Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference.
Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives.
Liberty has meaning only if we still believe in it when terrible things happen and a false government security blanket beckons.
— Ron Paul, Security and Liberty (2007)
Your Body is Your Own <– Mark Twain
Now what I contend is that my body is my own, at least I have always so regarded it. If I do harm through my experimenting with it, it is I who suffer, not the state.
— Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), address to the New York General Assembly (1901)