Tag Archives: government

Quotations about governments and governing

David Hume – Mankind governed by authority, not reason

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David HumeAn established government has an infinite advantage by that very circumstance of its being established–the bulk of mankind being governed by authority, not reason, and never attributing authority to anything that has not the recommendation of antiquity.

David Hume   (1711-1776)

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Marcus Tullius Cicero – The magistrate is a speaking law

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Marcus Tullius CiceroYou understand, then, that the function of a magistrate is to govern, and to give commands which are just and beneficial and in conformity with the law. For as the laws govern the magistrate, so the magistrate governs the people, and it can truly be said that the magistrate is a speaking law, and the law a silent magistrate.

Marcus Tullius Cicero   (106 BC-43 BC)
De Legibus

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Abraham Lincoln – Growing weary of government

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Abraham LincolnThis country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.

Abraham Lincoln   (1809-1865)

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Aristotle – State exists for the sake of good life

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AristotleA state exists for the sake of a good life, and not for the sake of a life only: if life only were the object, slaves and brute animals might form a state, but they cannot, for they have no share in happiness or in a life of free choice.

Aristotle   (384 BC-322 BC)
Politics, Bk. 3

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Thomas Jefferson – The legitimate powers of government

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Thomas JeffersonThe legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

Thomas Jefferson   (1743-1826)

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Henry George – Not the business of government

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It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve.

Henry George  

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Ronald Reagan – Government solving human misery

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We have so many people who can’t see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they’re going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning.

Ronald Reagan   (1911-2004)

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Thomas Paine – Society versus government

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Thomas PaineSome writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.

Thomas Paine   (1737-1809)

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