Epigrams from My Sordid Past

Dipping into my books, I plucked out some of my favorite lines. FWIW:

From The Farm Fiasco (ICS Press, 1989)

* For sixty years, politicians have driven American farmers out of world markets and onto the government dole.

*Nineteenth-century reformers built their utopias on the expectation of an imminent change in human nature. Twentieth-century reformers have built Leviathans and then awaited a change in politicians’ nature.

* Reform is the opiate of the welfare state.

*The only solution to the “farm problem” is to depoliticize agriculture.

From The Fair Trade Fraud (St. Martin’s Press, 1991)

• Government cannot make trade more fair by making it less free.

• “Fair trade” is a moral delusion that could be leading to an economic catastrophe.

• The U.S. government has created a trade lynch law that can convict foreign companies almost regardless of how they operate.

• It should not be a federal crime to charge low prices to American consumers.

From Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (St. Martin’s Press, 1994)

*America needs fewer laws, not more prisons.

*The key to contemporary American political thinking is the neutering of the State — the idea that modern government has been defanged, domesticated, tamed.

*A law is simply a reflection of the momentary perception of self-interest by a majority of a legislative body.

*The federal tax system is turning individuals into sharecroppers of their own lives.

*Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

From Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen (St. Martin’s Press, 1999)

• Paternalism is a desperate gamble that lying politicians will honestly care for those who fall under their power.

• The Night Watchman State has been replaced by Highway Robber States – governments in which no asset, no contract, no domain is safe from the fleeting whim of politicians.

• So much of political philosophy throughout history has consisted of concocting reasons why people have a duty to be tame animals in politicians’ cages.

• The surest effect of exalting government is to make it easier for some people to drag others down.

• The growth of government is like the spread of a dense jungle, and the average citizen can hack through less of it every year.

• Trusting government nowadays means dividing humanity into two classes: those who can be trusted with power to run other people’s lives, and those who cannot even be trusted to run their own lives.

From Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years (St. Martin’s Press, 2000)

*Clinton exploited and expanded the dictatorial potential of the U.S. presidency.

*For scores of millions of Americans, Clinton’s “caring” was more important than his lying.

*The principle of government supremacy is Clinton’s clearest legacy.

*The better that people understand what Clinton did in office, the greater the nation’s chances for political recovery.

From Terrorism & Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave, 2003)

• Nothing happened on 9/11 that made the federal government more trustworthy.

• The Patriot Act treats every citizen like a suspected terrorist and every federal agent like a proven angel.

• The worse government fails, the less privacy citizens supposedly deserve.

• There is no technological magic bullet that will make the government as smart as it is powerful.

• Killing foreigners is no substitute for protecting Americans.

• It is impossible to destroy all alleged enemies of freedom everywhere without also destroying freedom in the United States.

• A lie that is accepted by a sufficient number of ignorant voters becomes a political truth.

• Citizens should distrust politicians who distrust freedom.

• In the long run, people have more to fear from governments than from terrorists. Terrorists come and go, but power-hungry politicians will always be with us.

From The Bush Betrayal (Palgrave, 2004)

• Truth is a lagging indicator in politics.

• The arrogance of power is the best hope for the survival of freedom.

• We need a constitutional amendment to make the federal government obey the Constitution.

• There are no harmless political lies about a war. The more such lies citizens tolerate, the more wars they will get.

• People have been taught to expect far more from government than from freedom.

From Attention Deficit Democracy (Palgrave, 2006)

• Rather than a democracy, we increasingly have an elective dictatorship. People are merely permitted to choose who will violate the laws and the Constitution.

• Instead of revealing the “will of the people,” election results are often only a one-day snapshot of transient mass delusions.

• Bogus fears can produce real servitude.

• As long as rulers are above the law, citizens have the same type of freedom that slaves had on days when their masters chose not to beat them.

• Democracy unleashes the State in the name of the people.

• The more that democracy is assumed to be inevitable, the more likely it will self-destruct.

• Attention Deficit Democracy produces the attitudes, ignorance and arrogance that pave the way to political collapse.

I welcome any suggestions. If there are lines that seem clunkish or lame, feel free to point them out – maybe the herd needs thinning out.

Unfortunately, since the list was already too long, I did not include any lines about the value of positive thinking.

James Bovard


6 Responses to Epigrams from My Sordid Past

  1. Tory II January 15, 2012 at 3:07 am #

    Thee’s a strong, or powerful, natural tendency for people to want their govt to make their lives better. Socialism and communism are natural human tendencies. Wolves seldom hunt alone, they hunt in packs. We agree to give up our freedom for the common good (the group).

    Hitler, Stalin, or Mao taught no person the perils of exotic economics.

    We find ourselves here at the Bovard blog teaming up in a sort of communal way to fight our worst enemy – GOVT.

    Name one person who fights the govt alone as a sole proprietor, an entreprenuer, a capitalist, an INDIVIDUAL.

  2. Tom Blanton January 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    There’s a lot to think about reading all these epigrams. They are all pretty damn accurate.

    I can remember a time, not so long ago, when reading these blurbs would evoke a chuckle from me because of the truth they conveyed, but it just keeps getting harder to laugh.

    For example, I used to get a laugh out of this one:

    “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”

    This needs updating for our times:

    “Democracy must be something more than a riot squad and a protester voting on who needs to be pepper sprayed.”

    or maybe:

    “Democracy must be something more than a swat team and a box of doughnuts voting on what to have for breakfast.”

    My own conclusion is that we would be better off with no federal government at all than what we have now. State government ain’t so pretty either.

  3. Jim January 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Tom, your update on wolves/sheep – cops/pepper spray is divine.

    But you do realize, of course, that it is only a question of time until someone accuses you of having plagiarized that pepper spray line from Benjamin Franklin, right?

  4. Tory II January 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    You would think people would avoid socialism after Hitler committed suicide.

  5. rich yeblenca January 25, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Hi Mr. Bovard. Have the Lost Rights book and thank you. What in the name of goodness are we to do? Sheep have a certain nature to follow. Also to pay attention only to the grass at their feet and near their mouths. Our beneficent leaders know this all too well.

  6. Dirk Sabin January 30, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Gee, i don’t know but “television is the opiate of the State”…comes to mind which, come to thunk it, this makes these here Internets the Methamphetamine of the State.

    Either way, the government likes its citizen properly disposed….ehhh medicated to accept the prevailing shovel-fulls of bull to be shoveled their way.