Sunday, April 23, 2006

Problems of government and democracy

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

"He who studies books alone will know how things ought to be; and he who studies men will know how they are." Charles Caleb Colton (1829)

Looking out for number one:

"...the reason for this essay is to somewhat counter the irrational belief that many people have that the various groups -- the government, the military, the law enforcement agencies, the universities, and others associated with the public welfare -- are acting to improve your life and mine. They are not. They are acting for their own selfish reasons. That is not to say that some of what they do will not benefit you and me."

"The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same." Stendhal

"We must never forget that if the war in Vietnam is lost, the right of free speech will be extinguished throughout the world." Richard M. Nixon

"The Americans will always do the right thing... after they've exhausted all the alternatives." Churchill

Not all wants are equal:

"The special-interest-group effect occurs whenever the costs of a government program are spread that each person who pays the cost pays only a small amount...and the benefits of this program are that each beneficiary receives a substantial amount. The beneficiaries have an incentive to lobby for the program while persons harmed by the program have no incentive to lobby against it."

"Democracy treats us as though we are children on Santas knee. It encourages each voter to express wants without that voter having to bear personal consequences for expressing such wants. The one big difference between actual shopping-mall Santas and politicians is that the Santas soon forget what each child wants and feels no obligation to try to satisfy these wants."

Last Words:

"...what is not true, as everyone knows, is always immensely more fascinating and satisfying to the vast majority of men than what is true. Truth has a harshness that alarms them, and an air of finality that collides with their incurable romanticism. They turn, in all the great emergencies of life, to the ancient promises, transparently false but immensely comforting, and of all those ancient promises there is none more comforting than the one to the effect that the lowly shall inherit the earth."

"Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good." H. L. Mencken

"If voting could change anything, it would be illegal." Graffiti

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