Selected Wisdom


Quotes and observations from wiser women and men than I!


Table of Contents

Discipline, Effort, Success. 1

Economics/Free Enterprise. 2

Education. 2

Ethics and Honesty. 3

Government and Governance. 3

Human Nature. 9

Humans’ Place in the Big Scheme, Life. 12

Ignorance. 14

Law.. 15

Legislation. 15

Liberty/Libertarian. 16

Politics. 19

Protecting me from Myself 22

Religion. 22

Science and Technology. 23

Taxation. 23

War and Peace. 25

Youth. 25

The U.S. Constitution. 26

Discipline, Effort, Success

Table of Contents


Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.

-        Winston Churchill

One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.

-        Benjamin Disraeli

The impossible only takes a little longer.

-        Einstein

Argue for your limitations and they'll be yours.

-        Gandhi

I'm a pessimist about probabilities; I'm an optimist about possibilities.

-        Lewis Mumford

Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.

-        George S. Patton

The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.

-        Ayn Rand

I learned pretty quickly that it's your WORK ETHIC that LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD. Education helps, but I've met failures who have Ph.D.s. I believe the hardest worker is always going to win.

-        Chris Rock

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

-        Will  Rogers

What we think, or what we know, or what we believe, is in the end, of little consequence. The only thing of consequence is what we do!

-        John Ruskin from "Timeless Wisdom"

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.  I do not believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances  they want, and if they cannot find them, make them.

-        George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950, Playwright

What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.

-        Margaret Thatcher

Nothing recedes like success.

-        Walter Winchell

Opportunities multiply as they are seized. 

-        Sun Tzu 

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.

-        Booker T. Washington

Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

-        John Wooden

Economics/Free Enterprise

Table of Contents


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

Avarice [is] the spur of industry.

-        David Hume

The distinguishing features of the contractual society, of the unhampered market, are self-responsibility, freedom from violence, full power to make one's own decisions (except the decision to institute violence against another ), and benefits for all participating individuals.

-        Murray N. Rothbard

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it.   The first law of politics is - to disregard the first lesson of economics!

-        Thomas Sowell

Honesty may be the best policy, but he who adopts that policy is not [necessarily] an honest man.

-        an archbishop of Dublin


Table of Contents


It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them a habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.

-        John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1756

Laws for the liberal education of the youth, especially of the lower class of the people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.

-        John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.

-        Albert Einstein

Ethics and Honesty

Table of Contents


Adopt silence or speak frankly.

-        Gandhi

Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.

-        Gandhi

I am a human; I only understand relative truth.  So my understanding of truth can change from day to day.  And my commitment must be to truth rather than to consistency.

-        Gandhi

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

-        George Orwell

Those who are not schooled and practised in truth [who are not honest and upright men] can never manage aright the government, nor yet can those who spend their lives as closet philosophers; because the former have no high purpose to guide their actions, while the latter keep aloof from public life....

-        Plato

A promise made is a debt unpaid.

-        Unknown

Government and Governance

Table of Contents


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, letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814

…a republic is the best of governments, [because republics are] contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of the laws.

-        John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

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

-        Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

It is certain…that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

-        James Baldwin, “The Price of the Ticket,” 1972

Leave it to politicians to characterize slower growth as a reduction. (Paraphrased)

-        Joseph Brennan, Libertarian

The more freedoms Americans lose, the more dangerous government becomes.

-        James Bovard

Those who have been intoxicated with power can never willingly abandon it.

-        Edmund Burke

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

-        Douglas Casey, Classmate of W. J. Clinton at Georgetown U.  (1992)

The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.

-        Alexis de Tocqueville

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.

-        Frederick Douglass

No man can be truly free whose liberty is dependent upon the thought, feeling, and action of others, and who has himself no means in his own hands for guarding, protecting, defending, and maintaining that liberty.

-        Frederick Douglass

Power concedes nothing without a demand.  It never did and it never will.

-        Frederick Douglass 

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.  Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the issue.

-        Benjamin Franklin

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.

-        Milton Friedman

The Founding Fathers envisioned a federal government that trusts its people with their money and freedom, outlining this limited, non-intrusive federal government in…the Constitution, leaving the other powers to people…or to the states.

-        Milton Friedman

As the state is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence

to which it owes its very existence.

-        Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

When governments claim to derive their authority from any source other than the governed, it always leads to the destruction of liberty.

-        G. Edward Griffin, The Chasm

[Socialistic] economic planning, regulation, and intervention pave the way to totalitarianism by building a power structure that will inevitably be seized by the most power-hungry and unscrupulous.

-        Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom.

The fundamental question of politics has always been whether there should be politics.

-        Karl Hess

An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to insure our domestic security and protect our homeland.

-        Adolph Hitler, upon  the creation of the Gestapo [1922]

Why of course the people don't want war.  …it is the leaders…who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.  [T]he people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. … All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.  It works the same in any country.

-        Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering  (at the Nuremburg Trials )

Love your country, but never trust its government.

-        Robert A. Heinlein

…the biggest threat to the liberty, health, safety, and welfare of the American people...[is a] cancerous rot [growing] at the center of the American empire - a rot that in fact comes with empire.  Until Americans …confront that uncomfortable truth, they will…suffer the consequences.  Unfortunately, it might take a catastrophe before they…do...

-        Jacob B. Hornberger, The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the ease with which the many are governed by the few.

-        David Hume

Morality is always the product of terror; its chains…are fashioned by those who dare not trust others, because they dare not trust themselves, to walk in liberty.

-        Aldous Huxley

…tyrants often use propaganda techniques that rely on the following. (1) Repetition

of catchwords, (2) Suppression of facts the propagandist wants the public to ignore. (3) Inflaming mass fear or other strong emotional reaction for the purpose of controlling public opinion and behavior...

-        Aldous Huxley

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then.

-        Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, 1787

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself.  Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?

-        Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 inaugural address

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

-        Thomas Jefferson

The real art of governing consists, so far as possible, in doing nothing.

-        Lao Tse, 600  BC

If fascism came to America it would be on a program of Americanism.

-        Huey Long.

…there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom…by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

-        James Madison

Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked.        

-        Niccolo Machiavelli

See  The Business of Government

-        H.L.Mencken, 1936

…experience should warn us that tough and unpopular decisions are only made under intense political pressure produced by urgent necessity.

-        Tom McClintock, CA State Senator, 2004

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one…”

-        Thomas Paine

[Government] exposes people to the same miseries…which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

-        Thomas Paine

The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then gets elected and proves it.

-        P.J. O'Rourke, "Holidays in Hell" [1989]

…[the federal] government [has no authority] to deliver a service,…and there's no evidence to show that government has ever been efficient [at] delivering…service.

-        Ron Paul, Congressman from Texas

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

-        Plato

Potentially, a government is the most dangerous threat to man's rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.  When unlimited and unrestricted by individual rights, a government is man's deadliest enemy.  It is not as protection against private actions, but against governmental actions that the Bill of Rights was written.

-        Ayn Rand "Man's Rights", April, 1963.

There's no way to rule innocent men.  The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. …when there aren't enough criminals …[government] makes them.  One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws.

-        Ayn Rand

We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force. 

-        Ayn Rand, The Nature of Government]

It is not my intention to do away with government.  It is rather to make it work - work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

-        Ronald Reagan

When power is for sale, then government power should be severely limited.  When power is abused, then the less power the better.

-        Charley Reese

Some…people…[identify] greed and avarice as the root cause of all accounting problems on Wall Street [but] are loath to consider that similar impulses might inspire politicians and bureaucrats as well.

-        Llewellyn (Lew) Rockwell, Jr.

Thank God we don't get all the government we pay for.

-        Will Rogers

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

-        George Bernard Shaw

Markets work extremely well in dealing with the sorts of problems with which markets deal.  Governments work extremely poorly in dealing with the sorts of problems with which markets deal.  Governments work extremely well in causing the sorts of problems which governments enjoy pretending to solve.

-        Joseph R. Stromberg (2003)

We believe in family values, too, but 'Big Brother' isn't a member of OUR family.

-        Nadine Strossen, President ACLU (1996)

If the federal government [becomes] the final judge of the limits of its own powers, then constitutional liberty would become an empty phrase. The federal government would inevitably conclude that there are, in fact, no limits to its power.

-        St. George Tucker, Jeffersonian legal scholar

When you find that you are on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.

-        Mark Twain

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

-        Mark Twain

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

-        Mark Twain (1866)

Much of  the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what has worked with what sounded good.  In area after area - crime, education, housing, race relations--the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation.  The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.

-        Thomas Sowell

People dream of making the virtuous powerful, so they can depend upon them. Since they cannot do that, people choose to make the powerful virtuous, glorifying in becoming victimized by them.

-        Thomas Szasz

In politics wanting someone else's money is called "need,” wanting to keep your own money is called "greed," and "compassion" is when politicians arrange the transfer.

-        Joseph Sobran

The people who vote decide nothing.  The people who count the vote decide everything.

-        Joseph Stalin

A democracy…[will] only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

-        Unknown (apparently not Alexander Tytler)

That government is best which governs least.

-        Henry David Thoreau

…the priority of the Democrats and Republicans…is to preserve…power when [they have] it, and to gain power when [they do not].  [Their] collective priority…is to make sure that, together, they control the electoral process and under no circumstances allow an independent or third party to infringe on their exclusive franchise.

-        Jesse Ventura

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, in a speech of January 7, 1790

There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern.  They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

-        Daniel Webster, Jun. 17, 1825

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority.  It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.

-        Daniel Webster

The mindset of legislating for the betterment of society guarantees the growth of the beast. ... Politicians see government as a solution but the people see government as part of the problem.  Beastly bureaucracy is born out of good intentions married to poor solutions.   Only when politicians realize what constituents already know will the true problem even be addressed much less solved. 

-        R. Lee Wrights

More government always translates into less freedom.

-        Unknown

Government that knows no boundaries and that is forever increasing its claims on the

citizen can only end in tyranny.

-        Unknown

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

-        Voltaire (1764)

War is peace.  Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

-        George Orwell, 1984

Human Nature

Table of Contents


Why is it that the destruction of something created by humans is called vandalism yet the destruction of something created by nature is called development?

-        Edward Abbey

Inventions rarely come from people within an industry, but, instead come from people on the outside who aren't under the same limiting beliefs & habitual thinking that forms within any organization or industry.

-        Dr. James Asher, San Jose State University, author on advanced learning

I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties.  Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me.

-        Dave Barry

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above-average drivers.

-        Dave Barry

No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

-        Dave Barry

Rules of Statesmanship and Defense:

  1. Know your friends from your enemies.

  2. Know which of your enemies are potential friends, and pursue all avenues for peace.

  3. Know which of your enemies are intractable enemies and wage war against them mercilessly.

  4. It matter's little what people say, it's what they do that counts.

  5. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

-        Menachem Begin

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

-        Edmund Burke

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

-        Winston Churchill

If not us, who?  If not now, when?

-        Winston Churchill

The best teams celebrate differences, take risks together, and spend time to create the bonds that strengthen team process. They respect themselves, each other, and their leader—and they get results.

-        Allen Drexler

The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who-in a period of moral crisis-maintain neutrality.

-        Dante

Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.

-        Albert Einstein

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited.  Imagination [is not].

-        Albert Einstein

The world is a dangerous place…, not because of…people who are evil, but because of …people who don't do anything about [evil].

-        Albert Einstein

There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn't matter who gets the credit.

-        Ralph Waldo Emerson

When men are most sure and most arrogant they are commonly most mistaken.

-        David Hume

The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

-        Robert A. Heinlein

I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. 

-        Thomas Jefferson

Superior leaders get things done with very little motion. They impart instruction not through many words, but through a few deeds. They keep informed about everything but interfere hardly at all. They are catalysts, and though things would not get done as well if they were not there, when they succeed they take no credit. And, because they take no credit, credit never leaves them.

-        Lao-Tzu

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

-        P. J. O'Rourke

Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

-        General George Patton?

To ignore the facts does not change the facts.

-        Andy Rooney

Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All PROGRESS, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.

-        George Bernard Shaw

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

-        Adam Smith

Sometimes it seems as if I have spent the first half of my life refusing to let white people define me and the second half refusing to let black people define me.

-        Thomas Sowell

The ultimate effect of shielding fools from their folly is to fill the world with fools.

-        Herbert Spencer

To a person with a hammer everything looks like a nail.

-        Unknown

Trust and respect are quickly lost and slowly won.

-        Unknown

Regardless of our physical attributes, we all look better when we have a smile on our face.

-        Unknown

Miracle:  A word we invented to describe the known effects of unknown causes.

-        Voltaire

Too much of a good thing is about right.

-        Mae West

Funny is an attitude.

-        Flip Wilson

Humans’ Place in the Big Scheme, Life

Table of Contents


Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.

-        Neils Bohr

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

-        George Carlin

We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.

-        Thomas Alva Edison

Everything should be made as simple as possible - but not simpler.

-        Albert Einstein

Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.

-        Albert Einstein

If the human body is obscene, complain to the manufacturer, not me.

-        Larry Flynt

Success is…

·        To laugh often and much;

·        To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

·        To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

·        To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

·        To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;

·        To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

-        Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be the change you want to see in the world.

-        Gandhi

When I die, I want people to play my music, go wild and freak out and do anything they want to do.

-        Jimi Hendrix

Your lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

-        Martin Luther King, Jr.

Say yes when nobody asked.     

-        Lao proverb

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has.

-        Margaret Mead

Poverty is not a mortgage on the labor of others, misfortune is not a mortgage on achievement, failure is not a mortgage on success, suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence.  Man is not a sacrificial animal on anyone's altar nor for anyone's cause.  Life is not one huge hospital.

-        Ayn Rand, "The Voice of Reason"

The world you desire can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.

-        Ayn Rand

[One of life’s the hardest lessons] is to learn which bridges to cross and which to burn.

-        Laurence J. Peter

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.

-        Carl Sagan

Have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness instead of sadness.  Laughter has always brought me out of unhappy situations.  Even in your darkest moment, you usually can find something to laugh about if you try hard enough.

-        Red Skelton

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin--real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business…a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that THESE OBSTACLES were my life.

-        Alfred D. Souza

Don't look back unless you want to go there.

-        Not Known

Life is like basketball: You miss 100% of shots not taken.

-        Not Known


Table of Contents


Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.

-        Unknown

Admiration is the daughter of ignorance.

-        Benjamin Franklin

Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.

-        Frederick Douglass

An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.

-        Victor Hugo, “Ninetythree,” 1874

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.

-        David Hume

The richest genius, like the most fertile soil, when uncultivated, shoots up into the rankest weeds.

-        David Hume

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

-        Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

About ignorance: “We don't know because we don't want to know.”

-        Aldous Huxley

Ignorance is the worst form of slavery.  (Paraphrased)

-        Robert G. Ingersoll, “The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child,” 1877

Nothing…is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

-        Martin Luther King, Jr., “Strength to Love,” 1963

A lie told often enough becomes the truth.

-        Vladimir Lenin

Ignorance is…voluntary… (Paraphrased)

-        Nicholas Ling

Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

-        Friedrich Nietzsche

Seek the company of those who are still seeking the truth and run away from

those who think they have found it.       

-        J.T. O’Hara

…learn from others' mistakes, you [won’t] live long enough to make them all yourself.

-        Admiral Hyman Rickover

Everybody is ignorant, only [about] different subjects.

-        Will Rogers

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

-        Socrates

[One’s] inability to invalidate your hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true.

-        Carl Sagan

Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.

-        Sydney Smith

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

-        Alvin Toffler


The law is a system that protects everybody who can afford to hire a good lawyer.

-        Mark Twain


Table of Contents


[One should] not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered.

-        Lyndon Johnson

[Though]…laws are made [for the people] by [representatives of the peoples’] own choice, if the laws [are] so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood…no [one]…can guess what [they] will be tomorrow.

-         James Madison, Federalist Papers 62


Table of Contents


Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.

-        John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765 does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds…

-        Samuel Adams

Never could an increase of comfort or security be a sufficient good to be bought at the price of liberty.

-        Hillaire Belloc

Liberty is the only thing that you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.

-        William Allen White

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are [based on good intentions].  The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.

-        Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

…if you will not fight for [a] right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival.  There may be a worse case.  You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

-        Winston Churchill

A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you.

-        Ramsey Clark

There exists in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level, and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom.   

-        Alexis de Tocqueville

Find out just what the 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 with both.  The limits of tyrants are prescribed  by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

-        Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-        Benjamin Franklin

All governments are more or less combinations against the people. . .and as rulers have no more virtue than the ruled…[T]he power of government can only be kept within its constituted bounds by the display of a power equal to itself, the collected sentiment of the people.

-        Benjamin Franklin, in a Philadelphia Aurora editorial 1794

Freedom is not worth having if it does  not  connote  freedom  to  err.  It passes my comprehension  how  human  beings,  be  they  ever so  experienced and able, can delight in depriving  other  human  beings of that precious right.

-        Mahatma Gandhi

[If], …in the name of justice, people claim rights to income, food, housing, education, health care, transportation, ad infinitum…absent an obligation to earn them…[must violate] others' liberty, by taking [from them] without their consent. [Such rights] are really… wishes, convertible into benefits for some only by…[a government that] violates others' [property] rights...

-        Gary Galles, Professor, Pepperdine University

Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

-        Barry Goldwater (actually written by Karl Hess)

Rights and responsibilities are … different sides of the same coin.

-        G. Edward Griffin, The Chasm

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.

-        David Hume

Morality is always the product of terror; its chains…are fashioned by those who dare not trust others, because they dare not trust themselves, to walk in liberty.

-        Aldous Huxley

I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.

-        Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action, according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.

-        Thomas Jefferson

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.  This is the sum of good government, and all that is necessary…

-        Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 inaugural address

A society that will trade a little order for a little freedom will lose both, and deserve neither.

-        Thomas Jefferson

[W]hat country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that [the] people preserve the spirit of resistance?  Let them take arms...The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

-        Thomas Jefferson, letter to Col. William S. Smith, 1787

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

-        John F. Kennedy

Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.

-        John F. Kennedy

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. [T]hose who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.

-        C. S. Lewis

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it.

-        Abraham Lincoln, 4 April 1861

It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.

-        James Madison

In Germany the Nazi's came first for the Communists...

 …but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews...

 …but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Unionists...

 …but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics...

 …but I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me...and by that time...

 …there was no-one left to speak up for me.

-        Rev. Martin Niemoller (German Lutheran minister) 1945
who served over seven years in two different concentration
camps. His comments on
Germany 1933-1939

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

-        George Orwell [a] federalist system…difficult problems [are] sort[ed] out…at the local level. [Though difficult] for a lot of conservatives to accept,…legaliz[ing] freedom [means] legaliz[ing] the right of people to do dumb things and to offend people.

-        Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), The Hill, 7/23/03

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression: for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach unto himself.

-        Thomas Paine

The penalty men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.

-        Plato

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.

-        Ayn Rand

If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.  … conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom[,]…this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is."

-        Ronald Reagan, 1976, Reason Magazine

I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves.

-        Harriet Tubman

Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor; never the victim, never the tormented.

-        Elie Wiesel

Maybe I'm overly pessimistic, but most of Africa is a continent without much hope for its people...  What [Africa] needs, the West cannot give.  …what Africans need is personal liberty...[and] guarantees of private property rights and rule of law.

-        Walter Williams

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who think they are free.

-         Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There are four boxes used in defense of Liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo.  Use in that order.

-        Unknown

Impotentes defendere libertatem non possunt.

Those who are without power cannot defend liberty.


Table of Contents


Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

-        Lord Acton

Today, candor compels us to admit that our vaunted two-party system is a snare and a delusion, a fraud upon the nation. Our two parties have become nothing but two wings of the same bird of prey.

-        Pat Buchanan

Equality, in a social sense, may be divided into that of condition and that of rights.  Equality of condition is incompatible with civilization, and…in practice, it can only mean a common misery.

-        James Fenimore Cooper

Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.

-        Charles de Gaulle

The invisible hand in politics operates in the opposite direction to the invisible hand in the market.

-        Milton Friedman

The fundamental question of politics has always been whether there should be politics.

-        Karl Hess

A conservative is a [person] who is too cowardly to fight and too fat to run.

-        Elbert Hubbard

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.

-        Edward Langley, Artist 1928-1995

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

-        G. Gordon Liddy

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

-        Groucho Marx

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety.

-        Henry L. Mencken, “In Defense of Women,” 1923

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

-        P.J.  O'Rourke

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teen-age boys.

-        P.J. O'Rourke

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

-        Pericles (430 B.C.)

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.   

-        Plato   

Politics is the art of postponing decisions until they are no longer relevant.

-        Henri Queuille, quoted in “The Bureaucrat,” 1985

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession.  I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.

-        Ronald Reagan

The government is like a baby [; ... it has] a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

-        Ronald Reagan

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 (1986)

I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

-        Ronald Reagan

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

-        Will Rogers

Question: What does a campaign transition team do?

  Answer: It turns campaign pledges into broken promises.

-        From the comic strip "Frank & Ernest" by Bob Thaves, January 7, 2004

My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference.

-        Harry S. Truman, 1962

Doing the right thing is easy. [It is] much more difficult [to…] figure out what [the right thing] is.

-        Harry S. Truman

All politics are based on the indifference of the majority.

-        James Reston, New York Times, 1968

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.

 The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates.

-        Tacitus

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.

-        Mark Twain

…[the downfall of our political system is the] buying and selling of politicians…bribery. In the private sector, you're arrested for it.  In the public sector, it's the norm…

-        Jesse Ventura

Innocently, we (black people) vote into office men to whom the welfare of our lives is of far less concern (to them) than yesterday's baseball score.

-        Richard Wright, "Twelve Million Black Voices" (1941)

Talk is cheap-except when Congress does it.

-        Unknown

Like diapers politicians should be changed regularly, both for the same reason.

-        Unknown

Protecting me from Myself

Table of Contents


A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

-        Douglas Adams, “Mostly Harmless,” 1992

Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.

-        Elbert Hubbard

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.  His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.

-        John Stuart Mill, "On Liberty," 1859

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

-        Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

In a free society, government has the responsibility to protect us from others, but not from ourselves.

-        Walter Williams



Table of Contents


People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

-        Dave Barry

…when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand…at the street corners, that they may be seen by men.  …when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your father…who is in secret and he will reward you.

-        The Bible, Matthew 6:5 and 6:6

In all ages of the world, priests have been enemies of liberty.

-        David Hume

Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.

-        David Hume

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

-        Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury (CT) Baptists, January 1, 1802

As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to bed apart and beat them…

-        Sura 4:34

Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

-        James Madison.

The United States is in no way founded upon the Christian religion.

-        George Washington & John Adams, in a diplomatic message to Malta.

Science and Technology

Table of Contents


640 Kilobytes of computer memory ought to be enough for anybody.

-        Bill Gates, 1981

Scientists dream about doing great things.  Engineers do them.

-        James A. Michener

Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.

-        Bertrand Russell

The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.

-        Edward Teller


Table of Contents


The real point of audits is to instill fear, not to extract revenue; the IRS aims at winning through intimidation and (thereby) getting maximum voluntary compliance.

-        Paul Strassel, former IRS Headquarters Agent Wall St. Journal 1980

A “decay in the social contract” is detectable; there is a growing feeling, particularly among middle-income taxpayers, that they are not getting back, from society and government, their money's worth for taxes paid.  The tendency is for taxpayers to try to take more control of their finances.

-        IRS Strategic Plan, (May 1984)

…when the GOVERNMENT spends money, it creates jobs; whereas when the money is left in the hands of TAXPAYERS, God only knows what they do with it.  Bake it into pies, probably.  Anything to avoid creating jobs.

-        Dave Barry

…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

When more of the people's sustenance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of government and expenses of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of free government.

-        Grover Cleveland, Speech to Congress, 1886

To tax the community for the advantage of a class is not protection: it is plunder.

-        Benjamin Disraeli

The present assault upon capital is but the beginning. It will be but a stepping-stone to others, larger and more sweeping, ‘til our political contests become a war of the poor against the rich.

-        U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field, 1865

It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part.

-        Benjamin Franklin

The income tax created more criminals than any other single act of government.

-        Senator Barry Goldwater

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

-        Thomas Jefferson

[High income tax rates] not only check consumption but discourage investment and encourage...the avoidance of taxes [rather] than the production of goods.[…]Our present tax system...reduces the financial incentives for personal effort, investment, and risk-taking.

-        John F. Kennedy

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

-        Vladimir Lenin

The power to tax involves the power to destroy;...the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create.

-        Chief Justice John Marshall, 1819

When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.

-        Plato, “The Republic”

The purpose for a tax system is to collect needed revenue at the least cost to the people.

-        Edward Prescott, Nobel Prize winning economist

Tax cuts are like sex; when they are good, they are very, very good.  And when they are bad, they are still pretty good.

-        - Alfred Regnery, American Spectator, March 2004

War and Peace

Table of Contents


I don’t know what weapon will be used in World War 3; but I know that World War 4 will be fought with wooden sticks.

-        Albert Einstein

An eye for eye […makes] the whole world blind.

-        Ghandi

The power of declaring war being with the Legislature, the Executive should do nothing necessarily committing them to decide for war in preference of non-intercourse, which will be preferred by a great many."

-        Thomas Jefferson  to George Clinton, 1807

History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is [low].

-        Ronald Reagan


Table of Contents


[Young people] have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things -- and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning -- all their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They overdo everything – [love, hate, and] everything else.

-        Aristotle

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

-        Josh Billings

Children today are tyrants.  They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.

-        Plato, “The Republic”

Youth is a wonderful thing.  What a crime to waste it on children.

-        George Bernard Shaw

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong.

-        Charles Wadsworth

The U.S. Constitution

Table of Contents


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 things in the Constitution that have been overtaken by events, by time [and that are] no longer relevant to a modern society. Declaration of war is one of them. Why declare war if you don't have to? We [said] to the President, use your judgment.     

-        U.S. Representative Henry Hyde, 10/3/2002

Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.

-        Thomas Jefferson

With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs not contemplated by its creators.

-        James Madison

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which grant[s] a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

-        James Madison, 1794

I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. To approve such spending would be contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.

-        President Franklin Pierce

To say the Constitution is living is to say that it's dead. 

-        Thomas Sowell

…the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.

-        Daniel Webster


Those who like a "living Constitution" should think about what it would mean to play poker with a "living" rule book.

-        Walter Williams