Thoughts & Quotes of

the letter and you will be brought to the beginning of the thoughts beginning with that letter.


§ See blupete's commentary of -- July, 1998.
§ See blupete's commentary of -- December 21, 1997.
¶ I find it impossible to believe that a world so full of evil was the work of an Author combining infinite power with perfect goodness and righteousness.
¶ "Though they may think the proof incomplete that the universe is a work of design, and though they assuredly disbelieve that it can have an Author and Governor who is absolute in power as well as perfect in goodness, they have that which constitutes the principal worth of all religions whatever, an ideal conception of a Perfect Being, to which they habitually refer as the guide of their conscience; and this ideal of Good is usually far nearer to perfection than the objective Deity of those, who think themselves obliged to find absolute goodness in the author of a world so crowded with suffering and so deformed by injustice as ours." (John Stuart Mill, Autobiography.)
¶ "I accept other people's choice and stay in the position where God put me ... otherwise I could not keep myself from rolling about incessantly. Thus I have, by the grace of God, kept myself intact, without agitation or disturbance of conscience, in the ancients beliefs of our religion." (Montaigne) [Emerson dealt with this dilemma: "God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please, -- you can never have both."
§ See blupete's essay -- "God."
¶ A Manichee was an adherent to a religious sect that existed in Persia in the 3rd century after Christ. It was a religious system widely accepted from the third to the fifth century, composed of Gnostic Christian, Mazdean, and pagan elements. (OED.) It is a Manichian notion that there is in the universe a division of spirits into hostile camps, good and evil. The special feature of the system which the name chiefly suggests to modern readers is the dualistic theology, according to which Satan was represented as co-eternal with God.
Bertrand Russell: "I may as well begin by confessing that for many years it seemed to me to be perfectly self-evident that pleasure is the only good and pain the only evil. Now, however, the opposite seems to me self-evident." [Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1872-1914) (Boston: Little, Brown; 1967) at p. 237.]
§ See blupete's commentary of -- November 21st, 1999.
¶ "Men have not, at bottom, been contending about forms of government. Writers and orators have; but the mass of nations do not enter into theories; they look to the practical effects. They have been seeking such a change as will render their lives more happy and less humiliating, with very little regard as to names and forms." [Cobbett, as quoted by Spater, William Cobbett: The Poor Man's Friend (Cambridge University Press, 1982) at vol.#2, p.335.]
¶ "The effects of a change from good government to bad government is not fully felt for some time after the change has taken place. The talents and the virtues which a good constitution generates may for a time survive that constitution. Thus the reigns of princes, who have established absolute monarchy on the ruins of popular forms of government often shine in history with a peculiar brilliancy. But when a generation or two has passed away, then comes signally to pass that which was written by Montesquieu, that despotic governments resemble those savages who cut down the tree, in order to get at the fruit. During the first years of tyranny, is reaped the harvest sown during the last years of liberty." [Macaulay, "War of the Succession of Spain" (1833).]
¶ "All systems either of preference or of restraint, therefore, being thus completely taken away, the obvious and simple system of natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord. Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man or order of men. The sovereign [politician] is completely discharged from a duty, in the attempting to perform which he must always be exposed to innumerable delusions, and for the proper performance of which no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient: the duty of superintending the industry of private people." (Adam Smith)
¶ "Prosperity is the test of good government, but prosperity must first be proved." (John Stuart Mill, "The British Constitution.")
¶ "... constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go ... virtue itself has need of limits ... Power should be checked with power." [Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws (1748), XI, sec. 4.]
¶ "If every person has the right to defend - even by force - his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. This principle of collective right - its reason for existing, its lawfulness - is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force - for the same reason - cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups." (Frederic Bastiat)
¶ "No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack. When successful, we would not have to thank the state for our success. And, conversely, when unsuccessful, we would no more think of blaming the state for our misfortune than would the farmers blame the state because of hail or frost." (Frederic Bastiat)
¶ "... the relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter." [Bastiat, The Law (1850)]
¶ "We have invited the husbandman to look to authority for his title. We have taught him piously to believe in the mysterious virtue of wax and parchment." (Edmund Burke.)
¶ "He governs with a loose rein, that he may govern at all ..." (Edmund Burke.)
¶ "[It is] an operose business ... to establish a government absolutely new... (Edmund Burke.)
¶ "Government has no other end than the preservation of property." (John Locke)
¶ "Faction and favouritism are the high roads to power." (William Cobbett)
¶ "The out party proposed to pass a law [etc.]. The in party said that such a law was unnecessary." (William Cobbett)
¶ "Public property is never so well taken care of as private property; and this, too, on the maxim, that that which is every body's business is nobody's business." (William Cobbett)
¶ "That government is best which governs least." [Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776).]
¶ "Feudalism, serfdom, slavery, all tyrannical institutions, are merely the most vigorous kind of rule, springing out of, and necessary to, a bad state of man. The progress from these is in all cases the same -- less government." [Herbert Spencer, Social Statics (1851).]
¶ "... a government of laws, not of men." [David Hume, Of Civil Liberty (1750).]
¶ "That which cannot be compassed by reason, wisdom and discretion, can never be attained by force." (Montaigne)
¶ "Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question." (Thomas Jefferson.)
¶ "The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail. No longer persevere in sacrificing the rights of one part of the empire to the inordinate desires of another; but deal out to all equal and impartial right. Let no act be passed by any one legislature which may infringe on the rights and liberties of another." (Thomas Jefferson.)
¶ "The most desirable laws are those that are rarest, simplest, and most general; and I even think that it would be better to have none at all than to have them in such numbers as we have." (Montaigne)
¶ "When law is considered as immutable, and the immutable law happens at the same time to be too foolish and mischievous to be endured, instead of being repealed, it is clandestinely evaded, or openly violated; and thus the authority of all law is weakened." (Sydney Smith)
¶ "One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation." (Thomas Brackett Reed, Speaker of the House, State of Maine, 1886.)
¶ "Desiring to have anything mended is venturing to have it spoiled; To know when to let things alone, is a high pitch of good Sense ..." (Geo. Savile, 1st Marquis of Halifax.)
¶ "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 by observing strict economy in every department of the state. Let the Government do this: the People will assuredly do the rest." [Macaulay, "Southey's Colloquies".]
¶ "The beneficial effects of state intervention, especially in the form of legislation, are direct, immediate, and so to speak, visible, whilst its evil effects are gradual, indirect and lie out of sight ..." (A. V. Dicey.)
¶ "But when the law, by means of its necessary agent, force, imposes upon men a regulation of labor, a method or a subject of education, a religious faith or creed - then the law is no longer negative; it acts positively upon people. It substitutes the will of the legislator for their own wills; the initiative of the legislator for their own initiatives. When this happens, the people no longer need to discuss, to compare, to plan ahead; the law does all this for them. Intelligence becomes a useless prop for the people; they cease to be men; they lose their personality, their liberty, their property." (Bastiat.)
¶ [As a charitable institution:] "Those who in my time have tried to correct the world's morals by new ideas, reform the superficial vices; the essential ones they leave as they were, if they do not increase them; and increase is to be feared. People are likely to rest from all other well doing on the strength of these external, arbitrary reforms, which cost us less and bring greater acclaim; and thereby they satisfy at little expense the other natural, consubstantial, and internal vices." (Montaigne)
¶ "Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament." And further: "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "The objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter we give and take; we remit some rights, that we may enjoy others." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "The government is a juggling confederacy of a few to cheat the prince and enslave the people." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "It is one of the finest problems in legislation, What the state ought to take upon itself to direct and what it ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to individual discretion." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "Popular remedies must be quick and sharp, or they are very ineffectual." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "The business of government is to promote the happiness of the society by punishing and rewarding." (Jeremy Bentham)
§ See blupete's essay -- "The Theory of Government."
GOVERNMENT, LOCAL (Municipality)
¶ "The hide was reckoned to be the amount of land necessary to support a family, and to the [Anglo-Saxon] king a hundred hides made up a convenient unit of government ..." [Harding, A Social History of English Law (Pelican, 1966) p. 20.]
¶ "The rich, no longer being able to rule by force, have invented this scheme that they might rule by fraud." [Shelley, as quoted by Blunden, Shelley, A Life Story, (London: Collins, Readers Union, 1948) p. 226.]
¶ In a Canadian magazine (Maclean's September 21st, 1992), a man by the name of Newman wrote his conclusions, "no matter how horrendous the risk may be of expanding our already-bloated deficit," the Canadian will have to spend itself out of its current economic woes; as this man saw it, this was the only way to save the economy. Of course I wrote the magazine; but my note didn't make its pages. What I wrote was this:
"Mr. Newman reminds me of a medieval physician approaching a deathly pale, many times bled, prone patient; his blood letting tools at the ready: - or, maybe, of a deranged fire-fighter who approaches a burning building with a bucket of gasoline.
The economic problems of this country have come about as a direct result of 30 to 40 years of too much governing (read spending); we hardly need them to 'start governing again,' - as if they have yet to stop. The economic 'cure' for the 'comatose slump,' which Mr. Newman (and others) detect, can hardly be expected to be one that prescribes an additional dose of the disease. The cure, while painful in its administration, is this: systematically reduce the deficit to the point where there is none (it will take a few years); reduce government spending to those areas that are truly for the common good (transferring a third of our taxes to government security holders, - is not); and, finally, to constitutionally bar governments from running with prolonged 'operating deficits,' viz., to constitutionally oblige government to tax as it goes."
As for the "public debt," put aside the question, whether, or not, "our children" will some day have to pay off the debt, the real difficulty is this: the debt, both federal and provincial, has grown to such proportions that governments must now pay a huge part of its current revenue (taxes we pay) just on the interest to carry the debts. Thus, with an increasingly higher proportion of the government budget spent on interest, governments find themselves obliged to cut back in other areas, areas -- some would urge -- where we need to spend more, not less. In other words, the climbing levels of spending, resulting in corresponding climbing levels of taxation; have greatly impacted on the ability of governments to use its spending and taxing powers as fiscal tools to achieve "desirable social ends." Let me illustrate: the total government spending, all levels of government, in 1970, per capita, was $1,452; in 1988 it was $10,473.. Next look at the composition of total government spending as it was in 1970 compared to 1988 (Horry & Walker, "Government Spending Facts," The Fraser Institute, Tables 1.3 & 2.3.):
					 1970			 1988
	Education			 19.1%			 11.5%
	Interest Charges		  8.5%			 18.2%
	Protection			 10.1%			  8.0%
	Health				 13.7%			 13.5%
¶ "... the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or to forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because in the opinions of others to do so would be wise or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him , or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else." (Mill)
¶ "Money is thrown amongst many, to be enjoyed by them that catch it." (Thomas Hobbes)
§ "He that clears at once, will relapse. But he that cleareth by degrees, induceth an habite of frugality, and gaineth as well upon his mind as upon his estate." (Francis Bacon)
¶ "I have not yet been able to discover the cause of these properties of gravity from phenomena and I frame no hypotheses... It is enough that gravity does really exist and acts according to the laws I have explained, and that it abundantly serves to account for all the motions of celestial bodies.
That one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum without the mediation of anything else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one another, is to me so great an absurdity that, I believe, no man who has in philosophic matters a competent faculty of thinking could ever fall into it." (Isaac Newton)
§ See blupete's essay -- "The Right to Bear Arms.."
§ See blupete's essay -- "Rights: Not Absolute: But Very Nearly So.."



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Peter Landry