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83 of 6,095 quotations related to Government

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

Adams, John
As the happiness of the people is the sole end of government, so the consent of the people is the only foundation of it.

1774 - from a Proclamation adopted by the Council of Massachusetts Bay
Aristotle
In all well-attempered governments there is nothing which should be more jealously maintained than the spirit of obedience to law, more especially in small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived and at last ruins the state...

350 BC - from Politics
Bagehot, Walter
Dullness in matters of government is a good sign, and not a bad one -- in particular, dullness in parliamentary government is a test of its excellence, an indication of its success.

Bastiat, Frederic
The oppressor no longer acts directly by his own force on the oppressed. No, our conscience has become too fastidious for that. There are still, to be sure, the oppressor and his victim, but between them is placed an intermediary, the state. What is better fitted to silence our scruples and to overcome all resistance?

1850 - from The Law
But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

1850 - from The Law
Beecher, Henry Ward
Ignorance is the womb of monsters.

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.

Brandeis, Louis Dembitz
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.

1928 - from his dissenting opinion in Olmstead vs U.S.
Brown, Jerry
 The government is becoming the family of last resort.




Browne, Harry
Some people say our program to reduce the federal government goes too far, that it throws the baby out with the bath water. But we have no choice -- this is Rosemary's baby we're talking about.

1996 - from a campaign speech
Buckley, William F.
One must bear in mind that the expansion of federal activity is a form of eating for politicians.

Sep. 08, 1964 - from his column in National Review
The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.

Campanella, Tommaso
Now that they are called masters, they are ashamed again to become disciples.

Capouya, Emile
Governments will always misuse the machinery of the law as far as the state of public opinion permits.

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
Churchill, Sir Winston
Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

Cloud, Michael
Patriotism means loving our country, not the government.

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.




[The successes of democratic government] have been secured by a constant and enlightened effort marked by many sacrifices and extending over many generations. We can not continue these brilliant successes in the future, unless we continue to learn from the past. It is necessary to keep the former experiences of our country both at home and abroad continually before us, if we are to have any science of government. If we wish to erect new structures, we must have a definite knowledge of the old foundations. We must realize that human nature is about the most constant thing in the universe and that the essentials of human relationship do not change. We must frequently take our bearings from these fixed stars of our political firmament if we expect to hold a true course. If we examine carefully what we have done, we can determine the more accurately what we can do.

Mar. 4, 1925 - from his Inaugural Address
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.

Finlay, J. Richard  
[Canadians] ... we are content to elect a prime minister with the appointment powers of an autocrat for the duration of his term. It is a curious anomaly of an otherwise sensible people in accepting such an archaic governance system. Louis himself couldn't have asked for anything more.

Nov. 15, 2000 - from Our Prime Minister Has Too Much Power
Fisher, Douglas  
The finest aspect of the parliamentary system of government for the executive in office ... is its penchant for systemic secrecy.

Feb. 6, 2000 - from "Stewart spared to save face", published by Sun Media
Frum, David  
... as government grows, the ambit for real community shrinks...

1996 - from What's Right
Gasset, Jose Ortega y
This is the gravest danger that today threatens civilization: State intervention, the absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State; that is to say, of spontaneous historical action, which in the long-run sustains, nourishes and impels human destinies.

1922 - from Espana Invertebrada
Gissing, George Robert
It is because nations tend to stupidity and baseness that mankind moves so slowly; it is because individuals have a capacity for better things that it moves at all.

Hume, David
It is ... on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the free and the most popular.

1739 - from A Treatise on Human Nature
Jay, Antony
[Parliamentary] Opposition's about asking awkward questions... and government is about not answering them.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Jonathan Lynn)
... paradoxically, government is more open when it is less open. Open Government is rather like live theatre: the audience gets a performance. And it gives a response. But, like the theatre, in order to have something show openly there must first be much hidden activity. And all sorts of things have to be cut or altered in rehearsals, and not shown to the public until you have got them right.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Jonathan Lynn)



Jefferson, Thomas
I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.

Dec. 20, 1787 - in a letter to James Madison
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

Lynn, Jonathan
... paradoxically, government is more open when it is less open. Open Government is rather like live theatre: the audience gets a performance. And it gives a response. But, like the theatre, in order to have something show openly there must first be much hidden activity. And all sorts of things have to be cut or altered in rehearsals, and not shown to the public until you have got them right.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
[Parliamentary] Opposition's about asking awkward questions... and government is about not answering them.

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
Our rulers will best promote the improvement of the nation by strictly confining themselves to their own legitimate duties, by leaving capital to find its most lucrative course, commodities their fair price, industry and intelligence their natural reward, idleness and folly their natural punishment, by maintaining peace, by defending property, by diminishing the price of law, and observing strict economy in every department of the state. Let the Government do this: the People will assuredly do the rest.

Jan. 1830 - from a book review published in the Edinburgh Review
MacDonnell, James J.  
Accountability of public servants to government, of government to Parliament, and of Parliament to taxpayers can be achieved only if the MPs of all parties support these goals. Parliamentarians must never lose sight of the fact that in a democracy, accountability is the price exacted for the gift of power.

MacPherson, C.B.  
We are supposed to have a rwo-or three -party system in Canada, yet one party has been in office, with only two intervals, ever since 1896, and continuously since 1935. This has led one observer to speak of Canada as a one-party state, and to attribute the phenomenon to the skill of the Liberal party in representing the lowest common denominator of political opinion in a country with an unusual dispersion of racial, religious, and sectional interests. The one party, it is said, has been so successful at this that it is now widely considered to be the only party able to form a government; consequently, the greater the threat that it may lose an election, the more voters rally to it from protest parties.

1952 - from Democracy In Alberta: Social Credit and the Party System
Madison, James
That alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own.

There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.

Jun. 16, 1788 - speech at the Virginia Convention



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.

from the Federalist Paper No. 62
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

from the Federalist Paper No. 47
Federal government will be smaller than the sum of state governments.

from the Federalist Paper No. 45
McElroy, Wendy  
Mystification is the process by which the commonplace is elevated to the level of the divine by those who have a vested interest in its unassailability. Government is a perfect example of mystification at work. Government is a group of individuals organized for the purpose of extracting wealth and exerting power over people and resources in a given geographic area. Ordinarily people object to and resist thieves and robbers; but in the case of government, they do not because the government has created a mystique of legitimacy about its activities.

from "Demystifying the State"
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
It is not a sign of communal well-being when men turn to their government to execute all their business for them, but rather a sign of decay ... The state, indeed, is but one of the devices that a really healthy community sets up to manage its affairs.

Aug. 27, 1924 - from "The Library" in The American Mercury
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
Capitalism undoubtedly has certain boils and blotches upon it, but has it as many as government?

Sep. 28, 1924 - from "The Library" in The American Mercury
[The State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men.

1926
Moynihan, Daniel Patrick
Somehow Liberals have been unable to acquire from birth what Conservatives seem to be endowed with at birth: namely, a healthy skepticism of the powers of government to do good.

Feb. 15, 1969 - from an essay in the New York Post



Paine, Thomas
Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature... that the more simple a thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered.

Feb. 1776 - from Common Sense
When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom.

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins... Society is in every state a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.

Feb. 1776 - from Common Sense
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
Pataki, George
When government takes responsibility for people, then people no longer take responsibility for themselves.

Plato
Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.

Rand, Ayn
Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals - that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government - that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government.




Reagan, Ronald Wilson
I consider all proposals for government action with an open mind before voting "no."

quoted in Ronald Reagan: An American Hero, by William F. Buckley and Nancy Reagan
Reed, James Alexander
We vote too much. We deliberate too little. We have brought within the scope of the federal jurisdiction a vast number of subjects that do not belong here, but are nevertheless here. What we need to do is to stop passing laws. We have enough laws now to govern the world for the next ten thousand years.

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
Nine tenths of the activities of modern government are harmful. Therefore the worse they are performed the better.

Scalia, Antonin
The Freedom of Information Act is the Taj Mahal of the Doctrine of Unanticipated Consequences, the Sistine Chapel of Cost-Benefit Analysis Ignored.

Jun. 30, 1986 - in TIME magazine, quoted in The Quotable Conservative by Bill Adler
Scruton, Roger
An institution is said to have an identity when the members are able not only to distinguish it from other institutions, but also to convey its distinctive character in words, gestures and practice, so as to reassure themselves that it should exist and that they have reason to belong to it.

1982 - from A Dictionary of Political Thought
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
In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.

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
Sowell, Thomas
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.

Thatcher, Margaret
The political and economic structure in which we live has been changing in a way which seems to take less account of people and more of economic theories and systems... Central control, statistical returns, regulations, taxes, levies and demands from the Government for yet more information are part of the daily round. What place is left for the individual?

Feb. 20, 1969 - from "Participation - in what?", published in the London Daily Telegraph, re-published at margaretthatcher.com
... you have to watch and make sure you donít frighten people in politics. The power of fear is very great. Youíve got to know that. People have reason to fear the actions of the government, no matter what the government, so always factor in fear.

Feb. 10, 2000 - from a speech at a Claremont Institute dinner
Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be near to understanding the problems of running a nation.

May. 08, 1979 - quoted from The Observer in As I Said to Denis: The Margaret Thatcher Book of Quotations, edited by Iain Dale
Thomas, Clarence
I was raised to survive under the totalitarianism of segregation, not only without the active assistance of government but with its active opposition ... Self-sufficiency and spiritual and emotional security were our tools to carve out and secure freedom. Those who attempt to capture the daily counseling, oversight, common sense, and vision of my grandparents in a governmental program are engaging in sheer folly. Government cannot develop individual responsibility....

1987 - from a speech to the Heritage Foundation
Unknown
Our problems are mostly behind us. Now we have to fight the solutions.

The chief cause of problems is solutions.

von Mises, Ludwig
...economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics.

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.




Respect for [the government's] authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty.

Wilson, Woodrow
Liberty has never come from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.

Sep. 9, 1912 - from a speech given in New York
The history of liberty is the history of the limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it. When we resist the concentration of power we are resisting the powers of death. Concentration of power precedes the destruction of human liberties.

Sep. 12, 1912 - from a speech given in New York