Harry Browne, fully Harry Edson Browne

Browne, fully Harry Edson Browne

American Writer, Politician, Financial Consultant and Libertarian Activist

Author Quotes

It has long been apparent that many people in the media don't believe you're competent to make your own decisions.

No one should be in prison for prostitution, gambling, buying or selling handguns, pornography, or selling drugs. As much as you may disapprove of these activities, all of government’s high-cost huffing and puffing hasn’t slowed them, and it won’t. Government is incapable of stopping these enterprises. People who are guilty of fraud, embezzlement, or other white-collar crimes shouldn’t be locked up either, if there is any reasonable prospect that they can make restitution-to their victims, not the government. Prison time should be reserved for repeat offenders who don’t make restitution. Possession of a weapon (of any kind) should be considered a crime only if it’s used to injure or threaten someone. We should clear the prisons of non-violent offenders. They are no threat to society, but locking them up diverts prison cells, police resources, and court time from the violent thugs who are threatening us.

The American heritage was one of individual liberty, personal responsibility and freedom from government. Unfortunately, that heritage has been lost. Americans no longer have the freedom to direct their own lives. Today, it is the government that is free - free to do whatever it wants. There is no subject, no issue, no matter that is not subject to legislation.

The pattern of wars establishing nothing has continued throughout American history: The Mexican War (which took 13,283 American lives) did add to the territory of the US. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to buy it? The Civil War (498,332 lives) didn’t bring reconciliation as promised. Instead, it produced nearly a century of regional animosity. World War I (116,708 US lives) wasn’t “the war to end all wars” as promised. WWII (407,316 US lives) didn’t make the world safe for democracy; it made the world safe for the USSR to launch the Cold War. The Korean War (33,651 lives) left Korea as divided as before. After Vietnam (58,168 lives), the dominoes continued to fall. The Gulf War (296 US lives) produced no resolution-other than to return the Emir of Kuwait to the palace. Politicians always justify war as being necessary for the greater good. They speak movingly of giving one’s life for one’s country. But it’s always someone else’s life they’re talking about.

Every government program, every government activity depends on the ability to tax, fine, or imprison. People don’t obey laws and regulations voluntarily, or else such things would be suggestions, not laws and regulations. Government’s tools are employed by coercion, force, compulsion, violence, and the threat of it. You may find this description a bit harsh. But that’s probably because you haven’t seen what happens if you refuse to obey a government edict. Only then would you see the iron fist. Coercion isn’t the last resort for government; it is the beginning and end of government activity. Force is the only reason anyone asks government to do something-to achieve what didn’t seem possible using persuasion. An individual is free to give to the poor, donate money to foreign governments, etc. It isn’t his choice he cares about when he asks government to do those things. It’s the desire to force someone else to share the cost or alter his behavior.

I found that I was getting a warm reception for my message of freeing you from the income tax, releasing you from Social Security, ending the insane war on drugs, restoring gun rights, and reducing the federal government to just its constitutional functions.

It is well known that in war, the first casualty is truth - that during any war truth is forsaken for propaganda.

On my first day in office, by Executive Order I will: Pardon everyone who has been convicted on a federal, non-violent drug charge, order the immediate release of those in prison, reunite them with their families, and restore all their civil rights. Pardon everyone who has been convicted on any federal gun-control charge, order the immediate release of those in prison, and restore all their civil rights. Pardon everyone who has been convicted of a federal tax-evasion charge, order the immediate release of those in prison, and restore all their civil rights. Pardon everyone else who has been convicted of a victimless federal crime, order the immediate release of those in prison, and restore all their civil rights. I will make it clear to federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors that we want the violent criminals off the streets. Every member of the federal criminal justice system should understand that prison space is only for criminals who have hurt someone.

The American way was for commerce, personal relationships, and religion to be voluntary. No one was forced to participate in something he didn't want.

The police can't stop an intruder, mugger, or stalker from hurting you. They can pursue him only after he has hurt or killed you. Protecting yourself from harm is your responsibility, and you are far less likely to be hurt in a neighborhood of gun-owners than in one of disarmed citizens - even if you don't own a gun yourself.

Everything we know about human nature and about government tells us that individuals using their own money will achieve far more good for themselves and far more for others than politicians spending money they didn't have to work to earn.

I say that the Second Amendment doesn't allow for exceptions - or else it would have read that the right "to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless Congress chooses otherwise." And because there are no exceptions, I disagree with my fellow panelists who say the existing gun laws should be enforced. Those laws are unconstitutional [and] wrong - because they put you at a disadvantage to armed criminals, to whom the laws are no inconvenience.

It’s easy to ignore [past government] failures all about us as we imagine that the next scheme will operate efficiently and fairly. This blindness afflicts people still hoping to make the world safe for democracy. WWI didn’t convince them otherwise. Nor did WWII. One can support the newest foreign military adventure only by ignoring the wreckage left by all previous military adventures.

Once upon a time, government budgets were balanced, our money was sound, the streets were safe, and taxes imposed by all levels of government took less than 10% of our income.

The Bill of Rights isn't some legalistic fine print. It was written to make our lives freer, more prosperous, and happier. By forsaking it, America has become no better than any other country in the world.

The problem is big government. If whoever controls government can impose his way upon you, you have to fight constantly to prevent the control from being harmful. With small, limited government, it doesn't much matter who controls it, because it can't do you much harm.

Federal grazing lands should be privately owned, so its owners can negotiate with livestock owners for grazing rights-instead of conducting political battles over whether the government should charge ranchers more or less. National parks should be sold to non-profit trusts and private companies who can continue to operate them for the public, but in ways that keep them clean and valuable, an incentive government employees don’t have.

I want a government small enough to fit inside the Constitution.

It’s important to realize that whenever you give power to politicians or bureaucrats, it will be used for what they want, not for what you want.

One sign of a government run amok is that many Congressional bills are hundreds of pages long-and they often include dozens of provisions that are irrelevant to the bills’ topics. Congressmen rarely read the bills they vote for, and Presidents almost never read them before signing them. Everyone relies on aides and “experts” to assess the bills-and even the latter can’t read a bill that is rushed through to a vote or altered at the last minute. But the regulators read all these bills thoroughly and enforce every provision. I will not sign any bill I haven’t read. I will consult with advisors, but I will always make the final decision myself, based on what a bill actually says. If a bill is too long for me to read during the ten days the Constitution give the President to make a decision, I will veto it automatically. If a bill is ambiguous or too complicated to understand, I will veto it-even if I think it might be aimed in the right direction.

The communitarians may say you've been enjoying too much individual freedom, and that you must give up some of that for the benefit of the community. But they really mean that they want more power over your life - to force you to subsidize, obey and conform to their choices.

The problem with politics isn't the money; it's the power.

For most of our history, Americans enjoyed both liberty and security from foreign threats.

If important things [like education] must be handled by government, why doesn’t government provide free food-as it provides free schooling? One could live without knowing how to read, but no one can live without food. So why doesn’t government operate the supermarkets? Imagine what it would be like. The food stores would become what the schools have become. Political battles would decide which foods are available. If you don’t like the choices, you’d have to attend “food board” meetings. Food would become more and more expensive, even as the quality deteriorated. And don’t get caught praying in a supermarket. Now let’s reverse the picture. Imagine instead that schools were operated like today’s supermarkets. Most school systems would offer a variety of approaches to any one subject-just as a supermarket offers a variety of brands for any one food item. And if you didn’t like what one school offered, or if you didn’t like the way your child was treated, you could patronize another school.

It's wrong for someone to confiscate your money, give it to someone else, and call that "compassion."

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Browne, fully Harry Edson Browne
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American Writer, Politician, Financial Consultant and Libertarian Activist