Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Government

"Few consider how much we are indebted to government, because few can represent how wretched mankind would be without it." - Francis Atterbury

"Our whole way of life today is dedicated to the removal of risk. Cradle to grave we are supported, insulated, and isolated from the risks of life - and if we fall, our government stands ready with Band-Aids of every size." - Shirley Temple, later Shirley Temple Black, born Shirley Jane Temple

"There is no passion so distressing as fear, which gives us great pain and makes us appear contemptible in our own eyes to the last degree. Fear is in almost all cases a wretched instrument of government, and ought in particular never to be employed against any order of men who have the smallest pretensions to independency." - James Boswell

"In the government you called civilized, the happiness of the people is constantly sacrificed to the splendor of the empire. Hence the origin of your codes of criminal and civil laws; hence your dungeons and prisons. We have no prisons; we have no written laws; and yet judges are as highly revered among us as they are among you, and their decisions are as much regarded. We have among us no exalted villains above the control of our laws. Daring wickedness is here never allowed to triumph over helpless innocence. The estates of widows and orphans are never devoured by enterprising swindlers. We have no robbery under the pretext of law." - Joseph Brant, aka Thayendanegea

"How many of us are waiting for the opportunity to do some great thing for the betterment of our community, forgetting that the solution of the problem requires only the active intelligent fulfillment of individual civic duty. The only things which are wrong about our Government are the things which are wrong with you and me. Democracy is never a thing done; it is and always will be a goal to be achieved. It means action, not passive acquiescence in things as they are; it requires alertness to duty, a dynamic faith, a willingness to give for the good of all. It can live only as a result of loyalty and devotion to its principles expressed by daily needs." - Douglas L. Edmonds, fully Douglas Lyman Edmonds

"The taxes were indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us, by allowing an abatement." - Benjamin Franklin

"He that will do anything for his pleasure, must engage himself to suffer all the pains annexed to it; and these pains, are the natural punishments of those actions, which are the beginning of more harm than good. And hereby it comes to pass that intemperance is naturally punished with diseases; rashness with mischances; injustice with the violence of enemies: Pride, with ruin; cowardice, with oppression; negligent government of princes, with rebellion; and rebellion, with slaughter." - Thomas Hobbes

"When there is a lack of honor in government, the morals of the whole people are poisoned." - Herbert Hoover, fully Herbert Clark Hoover

"Genuine self-government is possible only in very small groups, societies on a national or super-national scale will always be ruled by oligarchical minorities, whose members come to power because they have a lust for power." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Self-government, self-discipline, self-responsibility are the triple safeguards of the independence of man." - Bernice Moore-Valdez

"The most creative job in the world. It involves taste, fashion, decorating, recreation, education, transportation, psychology, cuisine, designing, literature, medicine, handicraft, art, horticulture, economics, government, community relations, pediatrics, geriatrics, entertainment, maintenance, purchasing, direct mail, law, accounting, religion, energy, and management. Anyone who can handle all those has to be somebody special. She is. She’s a homemaker." - United Technologies Corporation NULL

"If the basis of popular government in peacetime is virtue, its basis in a time of revolution is virtue and terror - virtue, without which terror would be barbaric; and terror, without which virtue would be impotent." -

"Liberty is not to be found in any form of government, she is in the heart of the free man, he bears her with him everywhere." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Religion in American takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions... How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?" -

"The greatest right in the world is the right to be wrong. If the Government or majorities think an individual is right, no one will interfere with him; but when agitators talk against the things considered holy, or when radicals criticise, or satirize the political gods, or question the justice of our laws and institutions, or pacifists talk against war, how the old inquisition awakens, and ostracism, the excommunication of the church, the prison, the wheel, the torture-chamber, the mob, are called to suppress the free expression of thought." - Harry Weinberger

""A family without government," says Matthew Henry, "is like a house without a roof, exposed to every wind that blows." He might better have said, like a house in flames, a scene of confusion, and commonly too hot to live in." -

"The tongue is, at the same, the best part of a man, and his worst; with good government, none is more useful; without it, none is more mischievous." - Anahareo, given name Gertrude Moltke Bernard NULL

"The best government rests on the people, and not on the few, on persons and not on property, on the free development of public opinion and not on authority." - George Bancroft

"Security is never absolute... The government of a free people must take certain chances for the sake of maintaining freedom which the government of a police state avoids because it holds freedom to be of no value." - Alan Barth

"Government is not a substitute for people, but simply an instrument through which they act. And if the individual fails to do his duty as a citizen, government becomes a very deadly instrument." - Bernard Baruch, fully Bernard Mannes Baruch

"We must remember that the people do not belong to the government but that governments belong to the peoples." - Bernard Baruch, fully Bernard Mannes Baruch

"To strengthen a weak government, we must reduce its power." - Ludwig Börne, fully Karl Ludwig Börne

"Government is too big and important to be left to the politicians." - Chester Bliss Bowles

"If the government should be taught that the highest wisdom of a state is a wise and masterly inactivity, an invaluable blessing will be conferred." - John Caldwell Calhoun

"The office of government is not to confer happiness, but to give men opportunity to work out happiness for themselves." - William Ellery Channing

"Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated." - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"Though the people support the government, the government should not support the people." - Grover Cleveland, fully Stephen Grover Cleveland

"Justice is the end of government." - Daniel Defoe, born Daniel Foe

"We cannot have jobs and opportunities if we surrender our freedom to Government control... We can have both opportunity and security within the framework of a free society." - John Dewey

"Acceptance by government of a dissident press is a measure of the maturity of a nation... The American Government is premised on the theory that if the mind of man is to be free, his ideas, his beliefs, his ideology, his philosophy must be placed beyond the reach of government." -

"Partiality is generally supplemented by prejudice, and is most objectionable in family government." - Du Coeur NULL

"The best government is not that which renders men the happiest, but that which renders the greatest number happy." - Charles Pineau Duclos

"There is far more danger in public than in private monopoly, for when Government goes into business it can always shift its losses to the taxpayers. Government never makes ends meet - and that is the first requisite of business." -

"The pervasive nature of pollution, its disregard of political boundaries including state lines, the national character of the technical, economic and political problems involved, and the recognized Federal responsibilities for administering vast public lands which can be changed by pollution, for carrying out large enterprises which can produce pollutants, for preserving and improving the nation’s natural resources, all make it mandatory that the Federal Government assume leadership and exert its influence in pollution abatement on a national scale." - Environment Pollution Panel NULL

"Happiness is not in strength, or wealth, or power, or all three. It lies in ourselves, in true freedom, in the conquest of every ignoble fear, in perfect self-government, in a power of contentment and peace, and the even flow of life, even in poverty, exile, disease, and the very valley of the shadow of death." -

"Tracing the progress of mankind in the ascending path of civilization, and moral and intellectual culture, our fathers found that the divine ordinance of government, in every stage of ascent, was adjustable on principles of the common reason to the actual condition of a people, and always had for its objects, in the benevolent councils of the divine wisdom, the happiness, the expansion, the security, the elevation of society, and the redemption of man. They sought in vain for any title of authority of man over man, except of superior capacity and higher morality." - William Maxwell Evarts

"Beneath a free government there is nothing but the intelligence of the people to keep the people’s peace. Order must be preserved, not by a military police or regiments of horse-guards, but by the spontaneous concert of a well-informed population, resolved that the rights which have been rescued from despotism shall not be subverted by anarchy." - Edward Everett

"If the Government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take away everything you have." - Gerald Ford, fully Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr., Orig. name Leslie Lynch King, Jr.

"Municipal government is corrupt simply because corrupt and corruptible men are elected to office. Corrupt men are elected to office because office “pays” and corruptible men yield because they make money by; yielding. If municipal government had no profitable contracts to award, if school boards had no textbooks to select, we should have no “municipal problem.”" - Ernest Howard Crosby

"Government... is neither business, nor technology, nor applied science. It is the art of making men live together in peace and with reasonable happiness." - Felix Frankfurter

"Pollution is nothing but resources we're not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value. But if we got onto a planning planning basis, the government could trap pollutants in the stacks and spillages and get back more money than this would cost out of the stockpiled chemistries they'd be collecting. Margaret Mead gets cross with me when I talk like this because she says people are doing some very important things because they're worried and excited and I'm going to make them relax and stop doing those things. But we're dealing with something much bigger than we're accustomed to understanding, we're on a very large course indeed. You speak of racism, for example, and I tell you that there's no such thing as race. The point is that racism is the product of tribalism and ignorance and both are falling victim to communications and world-around literacy." - Buckminster Fuller, fully Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

"Good government is no substitute for self-government." -

"It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right." - William Ewart Gladstone

"The duties of government are paternal." - William Ewart Gladstone

"The proper function of a government is to make it easy for people to do good, and difficult for them to do evil." - William Ewart Gladstone

"Incessant change, everlasting innovation, seem to be dictated by the true interests of mankind. But government is the perpetual enemy of change... The wise man is satisfied with nothing." - William Godwin

"What is the best government? That which teaches us to govern ourselves." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Which is the best government? That which teaches self-government." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Abortion almost always symbolizes failure - the failure of a contraceptive, of a relationship, of a family, of a dream, even of a social system. Government need not add an extra lash to the whip." - Soma Golden, fully Soma Golden Behr

"A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away." -