My typical response to e-mails from well intended but bored friends that contain videos, photos, or quotes of the pithy or light hearted nature is to delete them unceremoniously, sometimes viciously with disgust for wasting my precious time. I know I should let the sender know I’m not interested in receiving this type of e-mail, but some senders are too close to disappoint with my disinterest.
For better or worse, find a list of quotes below I received this week from one such friend. (If you feel your finger instinctively moving to the delete button, I understand.) The first quote and source caught my eye. I was sucked in to reading the rest of the list.
I have been thinking a great deal lately about liberal democracy, why I believe it is the best way for fallen and broken human beings to govern and be governed. Among other factors that enable and sustain a government that values liberty and freedom, along with equality (freedom’s necessary companion) are the ideas of limited powers. It is the quote from Jefferson - the last one in the list – that compelled me to share these quotes from an e-mail that usually gets deleted without ceremony. Jefferson’s quote serves as a simply stated fair warning that applies for our times and all times.
In order for freedom and equality to be sustained, the few that have the responsibility of governing the many must first and foremost be committed to the goal of less power not more. Since this is a rare commodity, those being governed must understand this idea, teach and proclaim it far and wide, and demand that those deemed worthy of support for the offices of government must be able to articulate this idea as well. But more importantly (this is the hard part), those governing and those being governed must live the idea of limited power in their families, workplace, and communities. And in answer to the obvious question, limited power is realized by a commitment to a life of sacrifice and service – letting go, not grabbing hold. This is real power: putting oneself under another in order to serve and become a means to their good end.
The rest of the quotes helped me see again that our struggles are nothing new – that there really is nothing new under the sun. This realization always has a calming affect on me; that there is indeed an endemic futility to human life and existence, and that our only hope is in the one who is not under the sun but over it – over all creation, all things visible and invisible, all powers.
1. 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
2. If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed. -Mark Twain
3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself. -Mark Twain
4. 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
5. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. -George Bernard Shaw
6. 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
7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. -James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)
8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. -Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University
9. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. - P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian
10. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. -Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)
11. 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)
12. I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. -Will Rogers
13. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free! -P.J. O'Rourke
14. 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 (1764)
15. 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.)
16. No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. -Mark Twain (1866)
17. Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it. -Anonymous
18. The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. -Ronald Reagan
19. 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
20. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. -Mark Twain
21. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. -Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)
22. There is no distinctly native American criminal class...save Congress. -Mark Twain
23. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians. -Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)
24. A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -Thomas Jefferson