Quote Archive

  • The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom. — John Locke
  • Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without hell. — Frank Borman, Chairman of Eastern Airlines, reported in Journal of Business Education, Volume 58 (1982), p. 200
  • I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world’s best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not 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, 1st Inaugural 1801 (from here)
  • We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. — Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence (from here)
  • If once [the people] become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.  —Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:58 (from here)
  • There is nothing that helps people more than high rates of economic growth, compounding, compounding. But everyone is not helped equally. Economic growth requires dynamism, requires “creative destruction,” and some people get trapped in the wreckage, become wreckage. Not everyone is hurt equally. That irks. We should do what we can to limit downside risk consistent with the goal of producing broad prosperity. And we should feel a pang for those whose expectations are disappointed, whose lives turn out harder than they’d hoped. But the impulse to freeze the system, to try to tape all the cracks and staple all the cleavages, to ensure that nobody has to explain to their kid why Christmas this year is going to be a lousy Christmas, that is one of our greatest dangers. Our sympathy, untutored by a grasp of the larger scheme, can perversely make itself ever more necessary. When we feel compelled to act on our uncoached fellow-feeling, next year’s Christmas is likely to turn a bit worse for everybody. And then somebody has to explain to the kids that they can’t find a job at all. Businesses that would get started don’t get started, wealth that would be created isn’t. And in just a few decades, the prevailing standard of living is much, much lower than it could have been had our sympathy been more far-seeing. There is no justice, and great harm, in diminishing the whole array of future opportunity to save a few people now from a regrettable fate. — “Failure: For Our Future” by Will Wilkinson on November 14, 2008
  • A general state education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mold in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government . . . it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.  — John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (Northbrook, Ill.: AHM Publishing, 1947), p. 108. (H/T to Saving Freedom by Senator Jim Demint; quote copied from Vouchers and Educational Freedom: A Debate by Joseph L. Bast and David Harmer versus Douglas Dewey)
  • Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. — Ronald Reagan (quote from here)
  • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. — Winston Churchill (quote from here)
  • 28/03/2010 – It may be that a free society . . . carries within itself the forces of its own destruction, that once freedom is achieved it is taken for granted and ceases to be valued….Does this mean that freedom is valued only when it is lost, that the world  must everywhere go through a dark phase of socialist totalitarianism before the forces of freedom can gather strength anew? It may be so, but I hope it need not be. — Friedrich Hayek quoted in Saving Freedom by  Senator Jim Demint
  • ,09/02/2010 – 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.  — James Madison (quote from here)
  • 03/02/2010 -“if we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.” – Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 29 November 1802 (from here)
  • 29/01/2010 –  So spake our Mother EVE, and ADAM heard
    VVell pleas’d, but answer’d not; for now too nigh
    Th’ Archangel stood, and from the other Hill
    To thir fixt Station, all in bright array
    The Cherubim descended; on the ground
    Gliding meteorous, as Ev’ning Mist
    Ris’n from a River o’re the marish glides,
    And gathers ground fast at the Labourers heel
    Homeward returning.  High in Front advanc’t,
    The brandisht Sword of God before them blaz’d
    Fierce as a Comet; which with torrid heat,
    And vapour as the LIBYAN Air adust,
    Began to parch that temperate Clime; whereat
    In either hand the hastning Angel caught
    Our lingring Parents, and to th’ Eastern Gate
    Let them direct, and down the Cliff as fast
    To the subjected Plaine; then disappeer’d.
    They looking back, all th’ Eastern side beheld
    Of Paradise, so late thir happie seat,
    Wav’d over by that flaming Brand, the Gate
    With dreadful Faces throng’d and fierie Armes:
    Som natural tears they drop’d, but wip’d them soon;
    The World was all before them, where to choose
    Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
    They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
    Through EDEN took thir solitarie way.
    — The end of Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • 28/01/2010 – But the greatest proof of all is, that nature herself gives a silent judgment in favor of the immortality of the soul, inasmuch as all are anxious, and that to a great degree, about the things which concern futurity:    One plants what future ages shall enjoy,as Statius saith in his Synephebi. What is his object in doing so, except that he is interested in posterity? Shall the industrious husbandman, then, plant trees the fruit of which he shall never see? And shall not the great man found laws, institutions, and a republic? What does the procreation of children imply, and our care to continue our names, and our adoptions, and our scrupulous exactness in drawing up wills, and the inscriptions on monuments, and panegyrics, but that our thoughts run on futurity?  — from Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations, by Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • 25/01/2010 – I.
    Say first, of God above, or man below
    What can we reason, but from what we know?
    Of man, what see we but his station here,
    From which to reason, or to which refer?
    Through worlds unnumbered though the God be known,
    ’Tis ours to trace Him only in our own.
    He, who through vast immensity can pierce,
    See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
    Observe how system into system runs,
    What other planets circle other suns,
    What varied being peoples every star,
    May tell why Heaven has made us as we are.
    But of this frame, the bearings, and the ties,
    The strong connections, nice dependencies,
    Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
    Looked through? or can a part contain the whole?
    Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
    And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
    — from Essay on Man, Epistle I, by Alexander Pope
  • 22/01/2010 – He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. No body can deny but the nourishment is his. I ask then, when did they begin to be his? when he digested? or when he eat? or when he boiled? or when he brought them home? or when he picked them up? and it is plain, if the first gathering made them not his, nothing else could. That labour put a distinction between them and common: that added something to them more than nature, the common mother of all, had done; and so they became his private right. And will any one say, he had no right to those acorns or apples, he thus appropriated, because he had not the consent of all mankind to make them his? Was it a robbery thus to assume to himself what belonged to all in common? If such a consent as that was necessary, man had starved, notwithstanding the plenty God had given him. We see in commons, which remain so by compact, that it is the taking any part of what is common, and removing it out of the state nature leaves it in, which begins the property; without which the common is of no use. And the taking of this or that part, does not depend on the express consent of all the commoners. Thus the grass my horse has bit; the turfs my servant has cut; and the ore I have digged in any place, where I have a right to them in common with others, become my property, without the assignation or consent of any body. The labour that was mine, removing them out of that common state they were in, hath fixed my property in them. — from the Second Treatise of Government by John Locke
  • 21/01/2010 – If the hurtfulness of the design, if the malevolence of the affection, were alone the causes which excited our resentment, we should feel all the furies of that passion against any person in whose breast we suspected or believed such designs or affections were harboured, though they had never broke out into any action. Sentiments, thoughts, intentions, would become the objects of punishment; and if the indignation of mankind run as high against them as against actions; if the baseness of the thought which had given birth to no action, seemed in the eyes of the world as much to call aloud for vengeance as the baseness of the action, every court of judicature would become a real inquisition. There would be no safety for the most innocent and circumspect conduct. Bad wishes, bad views, bad designs, might still be suspected; and while these excited the same indignation with bad conduct, while bad intentions were as much resented as bad actions, they would equally expose the person to punishment and resentment. Actions, therefore, which either produce actual evil, or attempt to produce it, and thereby put us in the immediate fear of it, are by the Author of nature rendered the only proper and approved objects of human punishment and resentment. Sentiments, designs, affections, though it is from these that according to cool reason human actions derive their whole merit or demerit, are placed by the great Judge of hearts beyond the limits of every human jurisdiction, and are reserved for the cognizance of his own unerring tribunal. That necessary rule of justice, therefore, that men in this life are liable to punishment for their actions only, not for their designs and intentions, is founded upon this salutary and useful irregularity in human sentiments concerning merit or demerit, which at first sight appears so absurd and unaccountable. But every part of nature, when attentively surveyed, equally demonstrates the providential care of its Author, and we may admire the wisdom and goodness of God even in the weakness and folly of man. — Adam Smith from The Theory of Moral Sentiments