Quotations & Sayings

I enjoy the pithy wisdom one can glean from quotations and sayings. I like Goethe and Hayek and Mencken a lot with a little Dirty Harry and Laozi tossed in to keep it real.

  • Bruce Lee: Knowledge will give you power, but character respect. (“Striking Thoughts”, p. 46.)
  • John Jewkes: Economic ignorance is the breeding ground of totalitarianism.
  • John Locke:  The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom: for in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom: for liberty is, to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be, where there is no law. (1)
  • Neils Bohr: It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. (1)
  • Humpty Dumpty: “When I use a word ,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” (Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll)
  • Friedrich Hayek: I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.
  • Laozi: If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.
  • Friedrich Hayek: Responsibility, not to a superior, but to one’s conscience, the awareness of a duty not exacted by compulsion, the necessity to decide which of the things one values are to be sacrificed to others, and to bear the consequences of one’s own decision, are the very essence of any morals which deserve the name. (Road to Serfdom)
  • Steven Salaita: Find who profits from the existence of injustice. When you do, you’ll have simultaneously discovered its cause and solution. (@SteveSalaita)
  • Frederick Bastiat: Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference – the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen, and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. (Bastiat)
  • HL Mencken: … government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods. (QuoteInvestigator)
  • Murray Rothbard: It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance. (Egalitarianism …)
  • Gary Kasparov: [It is very important] that we don’t eliminate risk. Because it seems to me that now we teach kids from school that failure is nothing but failure. If you fail, you are a failure. No, no, I believe that failure is a logical move on the way to success. (Interview, 20:33)
  • J Robert Oppenheimer: We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert. (The Encouragement of Science)
  • Groucho Marx: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.
  • Neils Bohr: Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future. (Chaosbook)
  • Thomas Piketty: I do not think it is the government’s role to decide who is honourable. (AFP interview)
  • John Stuart Mill: He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. (On Liberty, II.23)
  • HL Mencken: The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. (The Smart Set)
  • Rumi: Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
  • HL Mencken: The plain fact is that government is always an imposition. It represents in the last analysis a conquest, and when that conquest is made with ballots they are no more than surrogates for bullets, for as someone has truly said, voting is simply a way of determining which side is the stronger without putting it to the test of fighting. (Minority Report)
  • Adam Smith: Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.
  • Adam Smith: It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. (The Wealth of Nations)
  • Friedrich Hayek: Justice is an attribute of individual action. I can be just or unjust toward my fellow man. But the conception of a “social justice”, to expect from an impersonal process which nobody can control to bring about a just result, is not only a meaningless conception, it’s completely impossible. (Hayek interview)
  • Thomas Jefferson: And I sincerely believe … that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale. (Letter to John Taylor)
  • Buddha: Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. (FakeBuddhaQuotes.com)
  • Robert Frost: In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life — It goes on.
  • Voltaire: To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.
  • 2 Timothy 4:3-4: For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (New International Version)
  • Marcus Tullius Cicero: If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
  • Voltaire: Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.
  • Robert Heinlein: Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.
  • Kahlil Gibran: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
  • Thucydides: Few things are brought to a successful issue by impetuous desire but most by calm and prudent forethought.
  • Thomas Jefferson: 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 rights of the individual.
  • Dave Brat: I’m not against business. I’m against big business in bed with big government.
  • Frederic Bastiat: It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.
  • Laozi: The Tao is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities.
  • Jesus: What is impossible with man is possible with God.
  • Ronald Reagan: Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.
  • Socrates: Envy is the ulcer of the soul.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.
  • Socrates: False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.
  • George Eliot: It’s never too late to be what you might have been.
  • Albert Einstein: That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.
  • Mickey Rooney: I tried.
  • Mark Twain: Now what I contend is that my body is my own, at least I have always so regarded it. If I do harm through my experimenting with it, it is I who suffer, not the state.
  • Thomas Edison: Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
  • Dwight D Eisenhower: If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.
  • William Blake: No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
  • Will Rogers: The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.
  • Laozi: Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
  • Ludwig von Mises: The most serious dangers for American freedom and the American way of life do not come from without.
  • Albert Einstein: Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
  • Aristotle: For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.
  • Vince Lombardi: The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.
  • Martin Luther King Jr: If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.
    No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
  • Malala Yousafzai: We don’t learn the importance of anything until it’s snatched from our hands.
  • Ludwig von Mises: I reject any outlawing or limitation of the liberty of association. No liberties shall be abolished, only coercion.
  • Bob Newhart: humor … makes us free. … as long as the tyrant cannot control the minds of free men, they remain free.
  • Aesop: We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
  • George Orwell: The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.
  • Will Rogers: Every time we have an election, we get in worse men and the country keeps right on going. Times have proven only one thing and that is you can’t ruin this country even with politics.
  • Nikola Tesla: I don’t care that they stole my idea …. I care that they don’t have any of their own.
  • Ayn Rand: Civilization is the progress of a society towards privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
  • Laozi: An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.
  • Mark Twain: Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
  • Michael Crichton: The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: If you must tell me your opinions, tell me what you believe in. I have plenty of doubts of my own.
  • Gideon J. Tucker: No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session. (popularized by Mark Twain)
  • Seneca: The greater part of progress is the desire to progress.
  • Margaret Thatcher: The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.
  • Colonel (ret.) Peter Martino: There’s always free cheese in a mouse trap.
  • Harry F. Banks: Today’s put-off objectives reduce tomorrow’s achievements.
  • Thomas Jefferson: The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.
  • Molière: Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.
  • George Orwell: Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
  • Winston Churchill: Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
  • Henry David Thoreau: There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
  • Malcolm Forbes: The art of conversation lies in listening.
  • Dwight Eisenhower: In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson: This is the history of governments, – one man does something which is to bind another. A man who cannot be acquainted with me, taxes me; looking from afar at me, ordains that a part of my labour shall go to this or that whimsical end, not as I, but as he happens to fancy. Behold the consequence. Of all debts, men are least willing to pay the taxes. What a satire is this on government! Everywhere they think they get their money’s worth, except for these. Hence, the less government we have, the better, – the fewer laws, and the less confided power.
  • Henry David Thoreau: I heartily accept the motto, – “That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe, – “That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.
  • Rumi: Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.
  • Plato: Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or individuals, or in government.
  • Friedrich Schiller: There is room in the smallest cottage for a happy loving pair.
  • Peace Corps slogan: The toughest job you’ll ever love. (and it was!)
  • Friedrich Schiller: Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.
  • Molière: Nearly all men die of their remedies, and not of their illnesses.
  • Will Rogers: People often ask me, ‘Will, where do you get your jokes?’ I just tell ’em, ‘Well, I watch the government and report the facts, that is all I do, and I don’t even find it necessary to exaggerate.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: When ideas fail, words come in very handy.
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein: The limits of my language means the limits of my world.
  • Proverbs 14:30: A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
  • Friedrich Hayek: The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.
  • Mark Twain: I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
  • Dirty Harry Callahan:  A Man’s Got to Know his Limitations. (video)
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: To be pleased with one’s limits is a wretched state.
  • Dirty Harry Callahan: Go ahead. Make my day. (video)
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Nothing is worth more than this day.
  • Friedrich Hayek: Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
  • Rumi: This world is like a mountain.
    Your Echo depends on you.
    If you scream good things, the world will give it back.
    If you scream bad things, the world will give it back.
    Even if someone says badly about you, speak well about him.
    Change Your Heart to change the World.

2 Responses to Quotations & Sayings

  1. Pingback: Eisenhower: If all that Americans want is security … | This Got My Attention

  2. Pingback: Nikola Tesla: I don’t care that they stole my idea …. I care that they don’t have any of their own. | This Got My Attention

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