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82 of 6,095 quotations related to Bureaucracy

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Abbey, Edward
A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.

Atkinson, Brooks
Bureaucracies are designed to perform public business. But as soon as a bureaucracy is established, it develops an autonomous spiritual life and comes to regard the public as its enemy.

Bagehot, Walter
A democratic despotism is like a theocracy: it assumes its own correctness.

Balzac, Honore de
Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.

Beecher, Henry Ward
Ignorance is the womb of monsters.

Bell, Colleen  
These are the people the government picked to watch over us. God help us all.

May. 16, 1996 - commenting on the testimony of government mine inspectors in the Westray mine disaster
Bennis, Warren G.
Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led.

quoted in Leadership 101: Inspirational Quotes and Insights for Leaders by John Maxwell
Borah, William E.
The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.

Chapman, Maria Weston
We may draw good out of evil; we must not do evil, that good may come.

1885 - from her speech "How Can I Help to Abolish Slavery," delivered in New York
Cobden, Richard
The progress of freedom depends more upon the maintenance of peace, the spread of commerce, and the diffusion of education, than upon the labors of cabinets and foreign offices.




Coolidge, Calvin
The attempt to regulate, control, and prescribe all manner of conduct and social relations is very old. It was always the practice of primitive peoples.

Cotton, John
Let all the world learn to give mortal men no greater power than they are content they shall use - for use it they shall.

Douglass, Frederick
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.

Dr. Who
The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views.

Jan. 1977 - from The Face of Evil episode, written by Chris Boucher
Durant, William
A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential cause of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.

1944 - from Caesar and Christ
Eisenhower, Dwight D.
Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.

Sep. 25, 1956 - from a speech at Peoria, Illinois
Emerson, Ralph Waldo
Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors.

Friedman, Milton
Abraham Lincoln talked about a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Today, we have a government of the people, by the bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats, including in the bureaucrats the elected members of Congress because that has become a bureaucracy too. And so undoubtedly the most urgent problem today is how to find some mechanism for restructuring our political system so as to limit the extent to which it can control our individual lives.

Jun. 1992 - from an interview published in The Region, a publication of the Woodrow Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Support for free choice schools has been growing rapidly and cannot be held back indefinitely by the vested interests of the unions and educational bureaucracy. I sense that we are on the verge of a breakthrough in one state or another, which will then sweep like wildfire through the rest of the country.

Feb. 27, 1995 - from his column in the Washington Post Weekly Edition
Fuller, Thomas
The more laws, the more offenders.

1732 - from Gnomologia



Gingrich, Newt
... we can save individuals. You can help Sam or Sally, you can't help the class. The minute somebody says to you, 'Let's help the homeless,' you know they don't get it. The minute they say, 'Let's have a bureaucracy do it,' you know they don't get it. ... in a bureaucracy, a case worker will have up to 200 welfare clients. In the 19th century, because they recruited volunteers, the ratio was either 1 to 1 or 1 to 2. And at 1 to 1 or 1 to 2, you can actually help transform the person that you are helping. At 1 to 200, you can give them a check so they can go and get drunk.

Jan. 20, 1995 - from a speech to the U.S. Republican National Congress
Grant, R.W.
Microsoft and Intel, two of the latest targets of [antitrust actions of the U.S. Justice Department], are ... trying to fight the battle exclusively on terms defined by the government. But when the law is whatever the bureaucrat says it is, even innocence will be no defense, for the regulation will simply be shifted and reinterpreted to describe whatever the accused did do. The better defense would be to challenge the validity and constitutionality of rules which are designed not to protect rights, but merely to further the amorphous goals of ideology: 'fairness,' 'the level playing field,' etc. Perhaps the challenge would not succeed but it would beat losing by default.

1999 - from The Incredible Bread Machine, published by Fox and Wilkes
Hayek, Friedrich
The greatest danger to liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively concerned with what they regard as the public good.

1960 - from The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press
Hayes, Steve
 They give them something to do and prepare them for life in the general population.

justifying Tennessee Corrections Department computer job training programs for two dozen of the inmates on death row, quoted by Government Computer News and by PC Magazine, Feb. 6, 2001
Hazlitt, Henry
The 'private sector' of the economy is, in fact, the voluntary sector; and...the 'public sector' is, in fact, the coercive sector.

Huxley, Aldous
A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors, and school teachers. ....[such propagandists] accomplish their greatest triumphs, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals.

1946 - from the preface to Brave New World
Jay, Antony
... "referring the matter to a committee" can be a device for diluting authority, diffusing responsibility and delaying decisions...

March, 1976 - from "How to Run a Meeting", published in the Harvard Business Review
[When bureaucrats evade questions by ministers and political staff, one of three reasons usually explains their silence] The silence when they do not want to tell you the facts: Discrete Silence. The silence when they do not intend to take any action: Stubborn Silence. The silence when... they imply that they could vindicate themselves completely if only they were free to tell all [about actions of the previous government], but they are too honourable to do so: Courageous Silence.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Jonathan Lynn)
... the Opposition aren't really the Opposition. They're just called the Opposition. But in fact they are the Opposition in exile. The Civil Service are the Opposition in residence.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Jonathan Lynn)
[A Cabinet Minister] should always get civil servants to commit themselves first. Never say, "I think...", but always say, "What do you think...?"

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Jonathan Lynn)



[Bureaucratese] "I think we have to be very careful." Translation: We are not going to do this. "Have you thought through all the implications?" Translation: You are not going to do this.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Jonathan Lynn)
John Paul II, Pope
Where self-interest is suppressed, it is replaced by a burdensome system of bureaucratic control that dries up the wellsprings of initiative and creativity.

May 1, 1991 - from Centesimus Annus
Kafka, Franz
Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.

Leacock, Stephen  
I do not mean to say that private gain is never extreme, that all missionaries are angels. But I do say that they represent the only basis on which it has yet proved possible to develop the assets of a country. We must get rid of the incubus of government activity. It is a blight which is spreading all over the world.

Mar. 10, 1923 - from an address to the Canadian Club of New York, quoted in The Kinship of Two Countries by Hugh Anderson and in Famous Lasting Words by John Robert Columbo
Lynn, Jonathan
[When bureaucrats evade questions by ministers and political staff, one of three reasons usually explains their silence] The silence when they do not want to tell you the facts: Discrete Silence. The silence when they do not intend to take any action: Stubborn Silence. The silence when... they imply that they could vindicate themselves completely if only they were free to tell all [about actions of the previous government], but they are too honourable to do so: Courageous Silence.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
[Bureaucratese] "I think we have to be very careful." Translation: We are not going to do this. "Have you thought through all the implications?" Translation: You are not going to do this.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
[A Cabinet Minister] should always get civil servants to commit themselves first. Never say, "I think...", but always say, "What do you think...?"

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
... the Opposition aren't really the Opposition. They're just called the Opposition. But in fact they are the Opposition in exile. The Civil Service are the Opposition in residence.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
Macaulay, Lord Thomas Babbington
Government, as government, can bring nothing but the influence of hopes and fears to support its doctrines. It carries on controversy, not with reasons, but with threats and bribes. If it employs reason, it does so, not in virtue of any powers which belong to it as a government. Thus, instead of a contest between argument and argument, we have a contest between argument and force, Instead of a contest in which truth, from the natural constitution of the human mind, has a decided advantage over falsehood, we have a contest in which truth can be victorious only by accident.

Jan. 1830 - from a book review published in the Edinburgh Review
McCarthy, Eugene
The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.

Feb. 12, 1979 - quoted in TIME Magazine



McCarthy, Mary
Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.

Mencken, Henry Louis
[Government] is apprehended, not as a committee of citizens chosen to carry on the communal business of the whole population, but as a separate and autonomous corporation, mainly devoted to exploiting the population for the benefit of its own members.

1927 - from "From the Memoirs of a Subject of the United States", in Prejudices: Sixth Series
The natural tendency of every government is to grow steadily worse - that is, to grow more satisfactory to those who constitute it and less satisfactory to those who support it.

Aug. 27, 1924 - from "The Library" in The American Mercury
Mill, John Stuart
What ever crushes individuality is despotism, no matter what name it is called.

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

Paglia, Camille
Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. It exalts individualism and freedom and, on its radical wing, condemns social orders as oppressive. On the other hand, it expects government to provide materially for all, a feat manageable only by an expansion of authority and a swollen bureaucracy.

1992
Pal, Leslie A.  
... given contemporary governance challenges, command and control mechanisms of governance are no longer adequate, if they ever were.

1999 - from How Ottawa Spends
Small, lean, decentralized, partnered, and prudent seem here to stay. But in the absence of a consistent public philosophy to make sense of the appropriate balance of market and society, of compassion and competition, it is likely that policy will be driven less by ideology than by principled pragmatism. This is neither dramatic nor inspiring, but may be a typically bland Canadian compromise.

1999 - from How Ottawa Spends
... our political institutions are not particularly adept at channelling and facilitating broadly-based, consensual change. Change occurs, but it is masked and managed, and ultimately masquerades as continuity.

1999 - from How Ottawa Spends
Peter, Laurence J.  
Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.




Pitt, William
Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

Nov. 18, 1783 - from a speech on the India Bill in the British Parliament
Pulitzer, Joseph
[Public openness] There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.

Rand, Ayn
Unjust laws have to be fought ideologically; they cannot be fought or corrected by means of mere disobedience and futile martyrdom.

Reagan, Ronald Wilson
Heaven help us if the government ever gets into the business of protecting us from ourselves.

Apr. 12, 1973
We are for aiding our allies by sharing our material blessings with nations which share our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world.

Rickover, Hyman G.
If you're going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you, but the bureaucracy won't.

Nov. 3, 1986 - quoted in the New York Times
Rogers, Will
Things will get better - despite our efforts to improve them.

Rohmer, Richard  
With this run-away growth of the federal bureaucracy (which really now could be called the "civil self-service" because it grows by feeding upon itself), our society is both witness and victim of an escalating invasion of government into every facet of our lives.

Mar. 14, 1974 - from a speech to the Empire Club of Canada, quoted in Famous Lasting Words by John Robert Columbo
Russell, Bertrand
I believe there are still some people who think that a democratic State is scarcely distinguishable from the people. This, however, is a delusion. The State is a collection of officials, different for different purposes, drawing comfortable incomes so long as the status quo is preserved. The only alteration they are likely to desire in the status quo is an increase of bureaucracy and of the power of the bureaucrats.

1922 - from a lecture
Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de
An administration, like a machine, does not create. It carries on.

1942 - from Flight To Arras



Schlafly, Phyllis
We should prohibit the federal government from building, or assisting the states or private corporations to build, databases of personal information on ... citizens that is none of the government's business. Only totalitarian regimes monitor the private actions of law-abiding citizens.

Dec. 8, 1999 - from "Are We Becoming A Society Of Snoops?"
Scott, J.M.
For upwards of fifty years, the trend has been not just towards securing a greater measure of equality of opportunity, which is a basic object of liberal democracy, but equally towards a rigid, doctrinaire and unjustifiable belief in centralization and control as the only method of achieving it. The partisans of this belief have interpenetrated much of the educational establishment [in Britain] the educational Press, the educational unions, the educational bureaucracy, and the schools, colleges and universities themselves.

1973 - from Dons and Students, Plume Press
Shultz, George P.
Nothing ever gets settled in this town [Washington]. It's a seething debating society in which the debate never stops, in which people never give up, including me.

Sobran, Joseph
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.

attributed
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander
The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and of course in the United Nations.

Jun. 8, 1978 - from his speech "The Exhausted West", delivered at commencement at Harvard University
A loss of courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days...Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.

Jun. 8, 1978 - from his speech "The Exhausted West", delivered at commencement at Harvard University
In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.

Sowell, Thomas
Price fixing does not represent simply windfall gains and losses to particular groups according to whether the price happens to be set higher or lower than it would be otherwise. It represents a net lose to the economy as a whole to the extent that many transactions do not take place at all, because the mutually acceptable possibilities have been reduced.

Statistics Canada  
49% of all statistics . . . are wrong.

1985
Stevenson, Adlai
Bad administration ... can destroy good policy; but good administration can never save bad policy.

Sep. 11, 1952 - from a speech delivered in Los Angeles



Stockman, David A.
None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers... People are getting from A to B and it's not clear how they are getting there...

Dec. 1981 - quoted in "The Education of David Stockman" by William Greider, published in The Atlantic Magazine
Unknown
When a nation's government becomes more fearful of its citizens' rights than protective of them, that nation's future is only despotism and extinction.

Our problems are mostly behind us. Now we have to fight the solutions.

The chief cause of problems is solutions.

von Bismark, Otto
The bureaucracy is what we all suffer from.

1891 - from a speech
von Mises, Ludwig
Progress is precisely that which the rules and regulations did not foresee.

The essential characteristic of Western civilization that distinguishes it from the arrested and petrified civilizations of the East was and is its concern for freedom from the state. The history of the West, from the age of the Greek polis down to the present-day resistance to socialism, is essentially the history of the fight for liberty against the encroachments of the officeholders.

Washington, George
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like a fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

Webster, Daniel
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.

Wilde, Oscar
There is always more books than brains in an aristocracy.

1883 - from Vera, or the Nihilists



Williams, Polly
They [public education bureaucrats] tried everything to stop me [in a drive to introduce choice to the public education system]. After they were convinced choice couldn't be stopped, they tried to hijack the issue and came up with their own version of choice. It basically created another bureaucracy which would have supervised the whole choice process and strangled it. The Milwaukee Public Schools would have selected the students for the choice program, not the parents. Students would have been picked if they met enough of the seven negative criteria they set up. If you were in a family of alcoholics, had a brother in prison and a pregnant teenage sister, and were inarticulate, you would have been a perfect candidate for their choice plan. In other words, a program they hoped would fail.

Oct. 01, 1990 - from an interview published in Reason Magazine
Wilson, Harold
He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.

Jan. 24, 1967 - quoted in the New York Times