Quotes on Government

If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair. — Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29

I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form. — Calvin Coolidge

The dangers of a concentration of all power in the general government of a confederacy so vast as ours are too obvious to be disregarded. — Franklin Pierce

The state is the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies, too; and this lie creeps from its mouth; ‘I, the state, am the people.’ — Friedrich Nietzsche

The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop. — P.J. O’Rourke

I had a copy of the Soviet Constitution and I read it with great interest. And I saw all kinds of terms in there that sound just exactly like our own: ‘Freedom of assembly’ and ‘freedom of speech’ and so forth. Of course, they don’t allow them to have those things, but they’re in there in the constitution. But I began to wonder about the other constitutions — everyone has one — and our own, and why so much emphasis on ours. And then I found out, and the answer was very simple — that’s why you don’t notice it at first. But it is so great that it tells the entire difference. All those other constitutions are documents that say, ‘We, the government, allow the people the following rights,’ and our Constitution says ‘We the People, allow the government the following privileges and rights.’ We give our permission to government to do the things that it does. And that’s the whole story of the difference — why we’re unique in the world and why no matter what our troubles may be, we’re going to overcome. — Ronald Reagan

It is not the responsibility of the government or the legal system to protect a citizen from himself. — Justice Casey Percell

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 legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVII, 1781

Big-government liberals don’t like people with a sense of independence – because independent people don’t need big government. — Neal Boortz

All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. — Edmund Burke

We have got so many regulatory laws already that in general I feel that we would be just as well off if we didn’t have any more. — Calvin Coolidge

If you really want to engage in policy activity, don’t make that your vocation. Make it your avocation. Get a job. Get a secure base of income. Otherwise, you’re going to get corrupted and destroyed. — Milton Friedman

A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse to rest on inference. — Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison December 20, 1787

Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves. — Ronald Reagan, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (2007)

A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers. — Friedrich Hayek

All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. — H. L. Mencken, Smart Set (December 1919)

The power to regulate the economy is the same thing as the power to distribute favors. — Jason Brennan

Mystical references to “society” and its programs to “help” may warm the hearts of the gullible but what it really means is putting more power in the hands of bureaucrats. — Thomas Sowell

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. — Ayn Rand

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. 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

The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry. — William F. Buckley

A right, such as a right to free speech, imposes no obligation on another, except that of non-interference. The so-called right to health care, food or housing, whether a person can afford it or not, is something entirely different; it does impose an obligation on another. If one person has a right to something he didn’t produce, simultaneously and of necessity it means that some other person does not have right to something he did produce. That’s because, since there’s no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, in order for government to give one American a dollar, it must, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American. — Walter Williams

Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status. — Laurence J. Peter

No one spends someone else’s money as wisely as he spends his own. — Dick Armey

When you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship. — Harry Truman

The property of the people belongs to the people. To take it from them by taxation cannot be justified except by urgent public necessity. Unless this principle be recognized, our country is no longer secure, our people no longer free. — Calvin Coolidge

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth! — Ronald Reagan

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never
will be.
— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (6 January 1816)

If a society is to remain free, its government must be controlled. — Ayn Rand

The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security. — Thomas Paine

The wealth of the country, its capital, its credit, must be saved from the predatory poor as well as the predatory rich, but above all from the predatory politician. — James J. Hill

The makers of the Constitution conferred, as against the government, the Right to be let alone; the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men. — Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead v. United States (1928)

Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don’t have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government. — Walter Williams

The great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. — Milton Friedman

“We the people” tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us. — Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address (1989)

Economic energy must be released from government strangulation if individual freedom is to survive. — Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative

It is not only vain, but wicked, in a legislator to frame laws in opposition to the laws of nature, and to arm them with the terrors of death. This is truly creating crimes in order to punish them. — Thomas Jefferson, 1779

…I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right:…Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, judges and governors shall all become wolves…. — Thomas Jefferson, A letter to Colonel Edward Carrington about the perpetrators of Shays’s Rebellion.

If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state – to relinquish its protection and to refuse paying toward its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others, for his position is a passive one, and while passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally self-evident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man’s property against his will is an infringement of his rights. — Herbert Spencer

[The Constitution] is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens’ protection against the government. — Ayn Rand

It’s not tyranny we desire; it’s a just, limited, federal government. — Alexander Hamilton

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. — Milton Friedman

After 20 years on the bench I have concluded that federal drug laws are a disaster. It is time to get the government out of drug enforcement. — Judge Whitman Knapp, New York Times; May 14, 1993

Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.” — Abraham Lincoln, Speech to the Illinois House of Representatives; 18 Dec. 1840

Life has many good things. The problem is that most of these good things can be gotten only by sacrificing other good things. We all recognize this in our daily lives. It is only in politics that this simple, common sense fact is routinely ignored. — Thomas Sowell

I have so much confidence in the good sense of man, and his qualifications for self-government, that I am never afraid of the issue where reason is left free to exert her force. — Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Comte Diodati, 1789.

The State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. — Henry David Thoreau

America’s maximum economic power will be forged, not under bureaucratic direction, but in freedom. — Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative

People constantly speak of ‘the government’ doing this or that, as they might speak of God doing it. But the government is really nothing but a group of men, and usually they are very inferior men. — H. L. Mencken

Government “help” to business is just as disastrous as government persecution… the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off. — Ayn Rand

Politics is the conspiracy of the unproductive but organized against the productive but unorganized. — Joseph Sobran

Families, when a child is born Want it to be intelligent. I, through intelligence, Having wrecked my whole life, Only hope the baby will prove Ignorant and stupid. Then he will crown a tranquil life by becoming a Cabinet Minister. — Su Tung-p’o

We shall never prevent the abuse of power if we are not prepared to limit power in a way which occasionally may prevent its use for desirable purposes. — Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944)

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. — John Adams

No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words “no” and “not” employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights. — Edmund A. Opitz

What kind of a society isn’t structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm. — Milton Friedman

The more the state “plans” the more difficult planning becomes for the individual. — Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944)

Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for the law. — Louis D. Brandeis

A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. — Friedrich Hayek

It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles. — Niccolò Machiavelli

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens. — Thomas Jefferson

Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom. Even though the men who wield this power initially be of good will and even though they be not corrupted by the power they exercise, the power will both attract and form men of a different stamp. — Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. — Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Charles Jarvis, (28 September 1820).

Strong as it looks at the outset, State-agency perpetually disappoints every one. Puny as are its first stages, private efforts daily achieve results that astound the world. — Herbert Spencer, Essays: Scientific, Political, and Speculative (1891)

There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as “caring” and “sensitive” because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. Well, who isn’t? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he’ll do good with his own money – if a gun is held to his head. — P.J. O’Rourke

A nation without means of reform is without means of survival. — Edmund Burke

There is no justification for public interference with purely private concerns. — Calvin Coolidge

There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. While the first is the condition of a free society, the second means as De Tocqueville describes it, ‘a new form of servitude.’ — Friedrich Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order (1948)

Government never furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. — Henry David Thoreau

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

If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind? — Frederic Bastiat, The Law

In a democracy, the opposition is not only tolerated as constitutional, but must be maintained because it is indispensable. — Walter Lippman

Politics are a lousy way for a free man to get things done. — P.J. O’Rourke

It is a mistake to assume that government must necessarily last forever. The institution marks a certain stage of civilization — is natural to a particular phase of human development. It is not essential, but incidental. As amongst the Bushmen we find a state antecedent to government, so may there be one in which it shall have become extinct. — Herbert Spencer

Government has no other end, but the preservation of property. — John Locke

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

Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world. — Daniel Webster

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. — P.J. O’Rourke

There are just two rules of governance in a free society: Mind your own business. Keep your hands to yourself. — P.J. O’Rourke

The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object. — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address; 1801

The dilemma … is between the democratic process of the market in which every individual has his share and the exclusive rule of a dictatorial body. Whatever people do in the market economy is the execution of their own plans. In this sense every human action means planning. What those calling themselves planners advocate is not the substitution of planned action for letting things go. It is the substitution of the planner’s own plan for the plans of his fellowmen. The planner is a potential dictator who wants to deprive all other people of the power to plan and act according to their own plans. He aims at one thing only: the exclusive absolute preeminence of his own plan. — Ludwig von Mises

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy. — Ernest Benn

Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation. — Henry Kissinger

One difference between libertarianism and socialism is that a socialist society can’t tolerate groups of people practicing freedom, but a libertarian society can comfortably allow people to choose voluntary socialism. — David Boaz, Libertarianism: A Primer

The idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right. — Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Francis W. Gilmer (27 June 1816)

I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive. — Thomas Jefferson, A letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison (20 December 1787)

We both alike know that in the discussion of human affairs the question of justice only enters where there is equal power to enforce it, and that the powerful exact what they can, and the weak grant what they must. — Thucydides

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. — H. L. Mencken

In 1940, 4 million Americans worked for government and 11 million worked in manufacturing. Today, there are 7 million more Americans working for government (21.5 million) than in all manufacturing industries (14.5 million). We have shifted from an economy of people who make things, to an economy of people who tax, regulate, subsidize and outlaw things. — Stephen Moore, Pricey Government Prize

No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and stability. — Federalist No. 62

If you want government to intervene domestically, you’re a liberal. If you want government to intervene overseas, you’re a conservative. If you want government to intervene everywhere, you’re a moderate. If you don’t want government to intervene anywhere, you’re an extremist. — Joseph Sobran

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. — Mark Twain, A.B. Paine’s Mark Twain: A Biography (Harper, 1912, Vol. 2, page 724).

Powerful government tends to draw into it people with bloated egos, people who think they know more than everyone else and have little hesitance in coercing their fellow man. — Walter Williams

We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development. — Ronald Reagan

It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones. — Calvin Coolidge

A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. — Gerald Ford, An address to a joint session of Congress on August 12, 1974.

A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain. — Robert Heinlein, Methuselah’s Children

Government is like fire. If it is kept within bounds and under the control of the people, it contributes to the welfare of all. But if it gets out of place, if it gets too big and out of control, it destroys the happiness and even the lives of the people. — Harold E. Stassen

What we call the market is really a democratic process involving millions, and in some markets billions, of people making personal decisions that express their preferences. When you hear someone say that he doesn’t trust the market, and wants to replace it with government edicts, he’s really calling for a switch from a democratic process to a totalitarian one. — Walter Williams

The general (federal) government will tend to monarchy, which will fortify itself from day to day, instead of working its own cures. — Thomas Jefferson

Good government is that which delivers the citizen from the risk of being done out of his life and property too arbitrarily and violently. — H. L. Mencken

… but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights .. — Alexander Hamilton

If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are the subjects of shame. — Confucius, Analects, 8:13

I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make what use and get what advantage of her I can, as is usual in such cases. — Henry David Thoreau

If our country is to survive and prosper, we must summon the courage to condemn and reject the liberal agenda, and we had better do it soon. — Walter Williams, The Gathering Racial Tragedy

Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism. — Barry Goldwater, Speech at the Republican National Convention, San Francisco, July 1964

The seeds of today’s runaway government were planted when it was decided that government should help those who can’t help themselves. From that modest, compassionate beginning to today’s out-of-control mega-state, there’s a straight, unbroken line. Once the door was open, once it was settled that the government should help some people at the expense of others, there was no stopping it. — Harry Browne

There are no compacts between lions and men, and wolves and sheep have no concord. — Homer

Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation’s troubles and use as a justification of its own demands for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen. — Ayn Rand

The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people. — Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

Tyranny seldom announces itself. … In fact, a tyranny may exist without an individual tyrant. A whole government, even a democratically elected one, may be tyrannical. — Joseph Sobran

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong. — Thomas Sowell

Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it. — Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

The most important political office is that of private citizen. — Louis Brandeis

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

Outside of the Constitution we have no legal authority more than private citizens, and within it we have only so much as that instrument gives us. This broad principle limits all our functions and applies to all subjects. — President Andrew Johnson

If I deny the authority of the State when it presents my tax bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard, this makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects. — Henry David Thoreau

Governments never learn. Only people learn. — Milton Friedman

Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which are among the chief blessings of civil society. — James Madison

We may not imagine how our lives could be more frustrating and complex, but Congress can. — Cullen Hightower

Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race. — William Howard Taft

Only in a police state is the job of a policeman easy. — Orson Welles

I heartily 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 I also 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

Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, can never willingly abandon it. — Edmund Burke

Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping, and unintelligent. — H. L. Mencken

That’s the difference between governments and individuals. Governments don’t care, individuals do. — Mark Twain

Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem. — Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address; January 20, 1981

The notion that the church, the press, and the universities should serve the state is essentially a Communist notion … In a free society these institutions must be wholly free — which is to say that their function is to serve as checks upon the state. — Alan Barth

We must shed the illusion that we can deliberately ‘create the future of mankind’. — Friedrich Hayek, The Political Order of a Free People (1979)

What this country needs is more unemployed politicians. — Edward Langley

The existence of a free market does not of course eliminate the need for government. On the contrary, government is essential both as a forum for determining the “rule of the game” and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on. — Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money. — Davy Crockett, Speech in the US House of Representatives

The twentieth century was one in which limits on state power were removed in order to let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abattoir? We Americans are the only ones who didn’t get creamed at some point during all of this. We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and value systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals. — Neal Stephenson, In the Beginning Was the Command Line, p. 53

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him. — Niccolò Machiavelli

The state represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. — Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

When government accepts responsibility for people, then people no longer take responsibility for themselves. — George Pataki

I don’t make jokes, I just watch the government and report the facts. — Will Rogers

The Founding Fathers understood what happens when you give power to people with good intentions. That’s why they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — to prevent politicians from foisting their good intentions on us. Jefferson said we must bind them down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. — Harry Browne

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. — P.J. O’Rourke

Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit. A politician is anyone who asks individuals to surrender part of their liberty — their power and privilege — to State, Masses, Mankind, Planet Earth, or whatever. This state, those masses, that mankind, and the planet will then be run by … politicians. — P.J. O’Rourke

The property a man has in his own industry, is violated, whenever he is forbidden the free exercise of his faculties or talents, except insomuch as they would interfere with the rights of third parties. — Jean-Baptiste Say, A Treatise On Political Economy

An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger. — Confucius

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty. — Thomas Jefferson

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

After order and liberty, economy is one of the highest essentials of a free government. — Calvin Coolidge

To model our political system upon speculations of lasting tranquility, is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human character. — Alexander Hamilton

The authority of government … can have no pure right over my person and my property but what I concede to it. — Henry David Thoreau

Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it. — Albert Einstein

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with most unnecessary attention but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of man who have folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. — Adam Smith

Must a citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desireable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think is right. — Henry David Thoreau

I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice. — Friedrich Hayek, Economic Freedom and Representative Government (1973)

To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a granter of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshiped and served. — Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

This country has come to feel the same when congress is in session as when a baby gets hold of a hammer. — Will Rogers

The Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. — John Marshall Harlan, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

The Constitution is an instrument, above all, for limiting the functions of government… Throughout history, government has proved to be the chief instrument for thwarting man’s liberty. Government represents power in the hands of some men to control and regulate the lives of other men. — Barry Goldwater

There is no distinctly native American criminal class – save Congress. — Mark Twain

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. — Thomas Jefferson, In a letter to Abigail Adams on 22 February, 1787

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. — H. L. Mencken

The policy of the American government is to leave its citizens free, neither restraining them nor aiding them in their pursuits. — Thomas Jefferson

Man is not free unless government is limited. — Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address (1989)

Unfortunately the Federal Government has strayed far afield from its legitimate business. It has trespassed upon fields where there should be no trespass. If we could confine our Federal expenditures to the legitimate obligations and functions of the Federal Government, a material reduction would be apparent. But far more important than this would be its effect upon the fabric of our constitutional form of government, which tends to be gradually weakened and undermined by this encroachment. — Calvin Coolidge

The difference between a politician and a pickpocket is that a pickpocket doesn’t always get indignant when you tell him to keep his hands to himself. — Joseph Sobran

Whenever there is an interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally be done and not less readily by a powerful and interested Party, than by a prince. — James Madison

The duty of government is to leave commerce to its own capital and credit as well as all other branches of business, protecting all in their legal pursuits, granting exclusive privileges to none. — Andrew Jackson

The trouble with political jokes is that they often get elected to office. — Tony Pettito, Ada Weekly News, 23 October 1958

Whenever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force. — Thomas Jefferson, Kentucky Resolutions, 1798

The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. — Charles-Louis De Secondat

Either we believe that the State exists to serve the individual or that the individual exists to serve the state. — Ayn Rand

In dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institutions are not aboriginal, though they existed before we were born: that they are not superior to the citizen: that every one of them was once the act of a single man: every law and usage was a man’s expedient to meet a particular case: that they all are imitable, all alterable; we may make as good; we may make better. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

Old forms of government finally grow so oppressive, that they must be thrown off even at the risk of reigns of terror. — Herbert Spencer, Essays on Education

The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government. — Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

Republic … it means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. — John Wayne

When unlimited and unrestricted by individual rights, a government is men’s deadliest enemy. — Ayn Rand

A thief is more moral than a congressman; when a thief steals your money, he doesn’t demand you thank him. — Walter E. Williams

The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it. — John Hay, 1872

Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned. — Milton Friedman

Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it. — Cullen Hightower

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. — Henry David Thoreau

[The Bill of Rights is] designed to protect individuals and minorities against the tyranny of the majority, but it’s also designed to protect the people against bureaucracy, against the government. — Judge Lawrence Tribe

By calling attention to a well-regulated militia for the security of the Nation, and the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms, our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fear of governmental tyranny, which gave rise to the 2nd amendment, will ever be a major danger to our Nation, the amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic military-civilian relationship, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the 2nd Amendment will always be important. — John F. Kennedy

No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. — Mark Twain

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

The government was set to protect man from criminals – and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government. — Ayn Rand

Regulation is useful and proper, when aimed at the prevention of fraud or contrivance, manifestly injurious to other kinds of production, or to the public safety, and not at prescribing the nature of the products and the methods of fabrication. — Jean-Baptiste Say, A Treatise On Political Economy

It’s easy for people to assume that the Bill of Rights will be, as somebody once called the Constitution, a machine that runs itself. I disagree. I think eternal vigilance is the price of keeping it in working order. — Judge Lawrence Tribe

The more people are controlled, the poorer they become;
The poorer they become, the more restless they get; The more restless they get, the more forcefully they are restrained.
When people are forcefully restrained, their defiance becomes ingenious.
And the more ingenious their defiance, the stranger are the things that happen.
Now when strange things begin to happen, laws and regulations become stricter;
Then stricter laws and regulations mean more criminals and fugitives.
Soon everyone is either a criminal or a fugitive,
And no one can untangle the mess.
The more people are controlled, the less contented they become.
But when will leaders understand the significance of this?
— Lao Tsu

Opium and morphine are certainly dangerous, habit-forming drugs. But once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of the government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments … Is not the harm a man can inflict on his mind and soul even more disastrous than any bodily evils.? Why not prevent him from reading bad books and bad plays, from looking at bad paintings and statues and from hearing bad music? The mischief done by bad ideologies, surely, is much more pernicious both for the individual and for the whole society, than that done by narcotic drugs. — Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

I want a government small enough to fit inside the Constitution. — Harry Browne

Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. — Sophocles

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never. — John Adams, In a letter to John Taylor on 15 April, 1814.

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse. — Edmund Burke, Speech on the Middlesex Elections (1771)

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. — Voltaire

I believe that every individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other men’s rights. — Abraham Lincoln

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, Quoted in Andrew A. Lipscomb’s Writings 16:281

Three groups spend other people’s money: children, thieves, politicians. All three need supervision. — Dick Armey

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. — H. L. Mencken, Smart Set (December 1919)

It is not the business of the law to make anyone good or reverent or moral or clean or upright. — Murray Rothbard

Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men. — Lord Acton

What would you think of someone who said, “I would like to have a cat provided it barked”? Yet your statement that you favor a government provided it behaves as you believe desirable is precisely equivalent. The biological laws that specify the characteristics of cats are no more rigid than the political laws that specify the behavior of government agencies once they are established. The way the government behaves and the adverse consequences are not an accident, not a result of some easily corrected human mistake, but a consequence of its constitution in precisely the same way that a meow is related to the constitution of a cat. — Milton Friedman, Free to Choose

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. — John Quincy Adams

It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood. — James Madison, The Federalist No. 62

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

The strength of the Constitution, lies in the will of the people to defend it. — Thomas Edison

I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. — Calvin Coolidge

Any excuse will serve a tyrant. — Aesop

When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property. — Thomas Jefferson

The political class can’t imagine a decentralized world where good things happen-without them. But in the real world, that’s exactly how good things happen, and how jobs are created. When government sets simple rules that everyone understands and then gets out of the way, free people create jobs. — John Stossel

Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant. — James Madison

Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, nor good enough to be trusted with unlimited power. — Charles Caleb Colton

The argument for liberty is not an argument against organization, which is one of the most powerful tools human reason can employ, but an argument against all exclusive, privileged, monopolistic organization, against the use of coercion to prevent others from doing better. — Friedrich Hayek, Why I Am Not a Conservative

The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds. — Sir Isaiah Berlin

When politics are used to allocate resources, the resources all end up being allocated to politics. — P.J. O’Rourke

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, 1801

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

We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert. — J. Robert Oppenheimer

The Government has no money of its own. All that it has it takes in taxes or borrows at interest. — Margaret Thatcher, Speech to Conservative Rally at Cheltenham, 3 July 1982

All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest. — Friedrich Hayek

Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions – and the way most businesses make decisions, if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large. — Thomas Sowell

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)

Every increase in the size of government necessitates a decrease in an individual’s freedom. — Christian Harold Fletcher Riley

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. — Abraham Lincoln

Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory. — Sir Bernard Ingham

Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other. — John Locke

If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion. — Friedrich Hayek

The blame for [the national debt] lies with the Congress and the President, with Democrats and Republicans alike, most all of whom have been unwilling to make the hard choices or to explain to the American people that there is no such thing as a free lunch. — Warren R. Rudman

Elections are a good deal like marriages, there’s no accounting for anyone’s taste. Every time we see a bridegroom we wonder why she ever picked him, and it’s the same with Public Officials. — Will Rogers

When all government, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the Center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated. — Thomas Jefferson

Whenever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to ensure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. — Benjamin Disraeli, 1874

The liberty the citizen enjoys is to be measured not by the governmental machinery he lives under, whether representative or other, but by the paucity of restraints it imposes on him. — Herbert Spencer, Man versus the State

It is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights. — Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1772)

Why are the people rebellious?
Because the rulers interfere too much.
Therefore they are rebellious.
— Lao Tsu

The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. — James Madison

If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. — Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1772)

Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried. — Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons (11 November, 1947)

A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. — H. L. Mencken

No amount of IMF, World Bank and other handout interventions can bring prosperity to repressive nations. — Walter E. Williams

Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them. — Ronald Reagan

Liberals don’t care what you do as long as it’s compulsory. — M. Stanton Evans

Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one. — Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy. — Ronald Reagan

I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. — Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Ludlow (6 September 1824)

There is no security of property, where a despotic authority can possess itself of the property of the subject against his consent. Neither is there such security, where the consent is merely nominal and delusive. — Jean-Baptiste Say

It’s no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high. — Paul Ryan

All deductions having been made, democracy has done less harm, and more good, than any other form of government. It gave to human existence a zest and camaraderie that outweighed its pitfalls and defects. It gave to thought and science and enterprise the freedom essential to their operation and growth. It broke down the walls of privilege and class, and in each generation it raised up ability from every rank and place. — Will Durant, The Lessons of History

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 to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed 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 that 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

…Societies exist under three forms, sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments, wherein the will of every one has a just influence; as is the case in Enngland, in a slight degree, and in our States, in a great one. 3. Under governments of force; as is the case in all other monarchies, and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existance under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep….The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that, enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has its evils, too; the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosum libertatum quam quietum servitutum. Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. 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. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people, with have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. — Thomas Jefferson

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