George's Favorite Quotes

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.


The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and thus clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

... once you go down the road of collectivism, has any bureaucrat ever said "No, please, don't give us any more money or power. Clearly this is not a problem that government can solve."

In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.

I have nothing else to say. We -- we did -- if -- the -- the -- I -- I -- the stories are just as they have been said.

(Looking at busts of the founding fathers while visiting Monticello): Who are all these guys?

A leopard never changes his stripes

I haven't committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law.

They gave me a book of checks. They didn't ask for any deposits.

He didn't say that. He was reading what was given to him in a speech.

Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual

Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.

On every question of construction [of the Constitution], let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civiliztions has been 200 years.

The right of a nation to determine its own form of government does not include the right to establish a slave society (that is, to legalize the enslavement of some men by others). There is no such thing as "the right to enslave." A nation can do it, just as a man can become a criminal- but neither can do it by right.

When you say that you agree to a thing in principle you mean that you have not the slightest intention of carrying it out in practice.

Did you ever hear anyone say "That work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very dangerous to me?"

Those who are convinced they have a monopoly on The Truth always feel that they are only saving the world when they slaughter the heretics.

We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.

The more laws, the less justice.

The more corrupt the State the more numerous the laws.

A man that would expect to train lobsters to fly in a year is called a lunatic; but a man that thinks men can be turned into angels by an election is a reformer and remains at large.

The envious man thinks that if his neighbor breaks a leg, he will be able to walk better himself.

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.

Government, in its very essence, is opposed to all increase in knowledge. Its tendency is always towards permanence and against change...[T]he progress of humanity, far from being the result of government, has been made entirely without its aid and in the face if its constant and bitter opposition.

No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: "But what would you replace it with?" When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?

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.

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.

The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.

...when the federal government takes away the ability to fail, they also take away the desire to succeed.

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

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

I predict happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

There's only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

Systems are to be appreciated by their general effects, and not by particular exceptions.

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.

I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others.

No people has ever been ignorant and free.

The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everybody else.

If he became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he sorely needs, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House backyard come Wednesday.

Speaking for a moment in the technical terms of economics, there are two general means whereby human beings can satisfy their needs and desires. One is by work -- i.e., by applying labour and capital to natural resources for the production of wealth, or to facilitating the exchange of labour-products. This is called the economic means. The other is by robbery -- i.e., the appropriation of the labour-products of others without compensation. This is called the political means. The State, considered functionally, may be described as the organization of the political means, enabling a comparatively small class of beneficiaries to satisfy their needs and desires through various delegations of the taxing power, which have no vestige of support in natural right, such as private land-ownership, tariffs, franchises, and the like.

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

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.


Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code.

As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs.


Ah, yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet.

The most effective way to silence our guilty conscience is to convince ourselves and others that those we have sinned against are indeed depraved creatures, deserving every punishment, even extermination. We cannot pity those we have wronged, nor can we be indifferent toward them. We must hate and persecute them or else leave the door open to self-contempt.

I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.

Instead of getting married again, I'm just going to find a woman I don't like and give her a house.

No-fault's gift of this incredible power, this unilateral ability to pull the rug out from under everyone else in the family on a whim, to wreck a family while spewing rhetoric ... about saving it, is what makes no-fault evil.


I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.

The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

What, sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce.

What is the chief end of man? -- to get rich. In what way? -- dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must.

Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.

Other Quotes

We forbid any course that says we restrict free speech.

He who does not punish evil commands it to be done.

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Most people would sooner die than think; in fact they do so.

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

There are two ways of being happy; we may either diminish our wants or augment our means. Either will do, the result is the same.

How immense appear to us the sins that we have not committed.

Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth--that the error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it is cured on one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.

It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I just beat people up.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.

Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are fools and the rest of us are in great danger of contagion.

The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true.

He who has not a good memory should never take upon him the trade of lying.

Every man...should periodically be compelled to listen to opinions which are infuriating to him. To hear nothing but what is pleasing to one is to make a pillow of the mind.

No one in this world, so far as I know- and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me- has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.

Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain.

Error is the rule. Truth is an accident.

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.

All of us necessarily hold many casual opinions that are ludicrously wrong simply because life is far too short for us to think through even a small fraction of the topics that we come across.


Lawyer: "Why were you carrying 3 guns?"

Client: "That was all I could carry."

Invent a clever saying, and the world will remember your name forever.