- People who think that they are being "exploited" should ask themselves whether they would be missed if they left, or whether people would say: "Good riddance"?
- Random thoughts, 29 April 2002
- What the welfare system and other kinds of governmental programs are doing is paying people to fail. In so far as they fail, they receive the money; in so far as they succeed, even to a moderate extent, the money is taken away.
- During a discussion in Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose" television series in 1980
- I'm always embarrassed when people say that I'm courageous. Soldiers are courageous. Policemen are courageous. Firemen are courageous. I just have a thick hide and disregard what silly people say.
- It may be expecting too much to expect most intellectuals to have common sense, when their whole life is based on their being uncommon -- that is, saying things that are different from what everyone else is saying. There is only so much genuine originality in anyone. After that, being uncommon means indulging in pointless eccentricities or clever attempts to mock or shock.
- Before the Iraq war I was quite disturbed by some of the neoconservatives, who were saying things like, "What is the point of being a superpower if you can't do such-and-such, take on these responsibilities?" The point of being a superpower is that people will leave you alone.
- If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win.
- One undeniable accomplishment of Bill Clinton's presidency was that it kept Jimmy Carter from being the worst U.S. president in history.
- Nothing could be more jolting and discordant with the vision of today's intellectuals than the fact that it was businessmen, devout religious leaders and Western imperialists who together destroyed slavery around the world. And if it doesn't fit their vision, it is the same to them as if it never happened.
- When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.
- Intellectuals may like to think of themselves as people who "speak truth to power" but too often they are people who speak lies to gain power.
- Some of the biggest cases of mistaken identity are among intellectuals who have trouble remembering that they are not God.
- Too often what are called "educated" people are simply people who have been sheltered from reality for years in ivy-covered buildings. Those whose whole careers have been spent in ivy-covered buildings, insulated by tenure, can remain adolescents on into their golden retirement years.
- Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and highly educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important. Some confuse that feeling with idealism.
- Some of the most vocal critics of the way things are being done are people who have done nothing themselves, and whose only contributions to society are their complaints and moral exhibitionism.
- One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people's motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans-- anything except reason.
- Although I am ready to defend what I have said, many people expect me to defend what others have attributed to me.
- As far as party primaries are concerned, both Republican and Democratic Party primaries are dominated by the most zealous voters, whose views may not reflect the views of most members of their own respective parties, much less the views of those who are going to vote in the November general election.
In recent times, each election year has seen each party's nominee selected - or at least subject to veto - by its most extreme wing and then forced to try to move back to the center before the general election.
This can only undermine the public's confidence in the integrity of the candidates of both parties.
- Right after liberal Democrats, the most dangerous politicians are country club Republicans.
- Republicans won big, running as Republicans, in 2004. But once they took control of Congress, they started acting like Democrats and lost big. There is a lesson in that somewhere but whether Republicans will learn it is another story entirely.
- When we hear about rent control or gun control, we may think about rent or guns but the word that really matters is 'control.' That is what the political left is all about, as you can see by the incessant creation of new restrictions in places where they are strongly entrenched in power, such as San Francisco or New York.
- “Anyone who has actually had to take responsibility for consequences by running any kind of enterprise—whether economic or academic, or even just managing a sports team—is likely at some point to be chastened by either the setbacks brought on by his own mistakes or by seeing his successes followed by negative consequences that he never anticipated.”Real Clear Politics Nov 2008
- "'Global warming' is just the latest in a long line of hysterical crusades to which we seem to be increasingly susceptible." National Review, March 15, 2007
Barbarians Inside the Gates
- When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.
- I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money.
- People who pride themselves on their "complexity" and deride others for being "simplistic" should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth.
- Those who believe that "basic necessities" should belong to people as a matter of right ignore the implication -- that people are to work only for amenities, frivolities, and ego. Will that mean more work or less work? And if less, where are all those "basic necessities" coming from that the government is supposed to hand out?
- Many of the dangerous things that drivers do are not likely to save them even 10 seconds. When you bet your life against 10 seconds, that is giving bigger odds than you are ever likely to get in Las Vegas.
- Most problems do not get solved. They get superceded by other concerns.
- People who talk incessantly about "change" are often dogmatically set in their ways. They want to change other people.
- Maturity is not a matter of age. You have matured when you are no longer concerned with showing how clever you are, and give your full attention to getting the job done right. Many never reach that stage, no matter how old they get.
- One of the most ridiculous defenses of foreign aid is that it is a very small part of our national income. If the average American set fire to a five-dollar bill, it would be an even smaller percentage of his annual income. But everyone would consider him foolish for doing it.
- Letters from teachers continue to confirm the incompetence which they deny. A teacher in Montana says that my criticisms of teachers are "nieve." No, that wasn't a typographical error. He spelled it that way twice.
- If I could offer one piece of advice to young people thinking about their future, it would be this: Don't preconceive. Find out what the opportunities are.
- Some of the people on death row today might not be there if the courts had not been so lenient on them when they were first offenders.
- If you don't believe in the innate unreasonableness of human beings, just try raising children.
- Time was when people used to brag about how old they were -- and I am old enough to remember it.
Is Reality Optional?
- Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. In area after area - crime, education, housing, race relations - the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.
Compassion Vs. Guilt
- Competition does a much more effective job than government at protecting consumers. (chapter: "Bogeyman Economics")
- One of the grand fallacies of our time is that something beneficial should be subsidized. (chapter: "Cutting the Budget")
- The case for the political left looks more plausible on the surface but is harder to keep believing in as you become more experienced. (chapter: "Left Vs. Right")
- Understanding the limitations of human beings is the beginning of wisdom. (chapter: "Police Shootings")
- The key feature of Communist propaganda has been the depiction of people who are more productive as mere exploiters of others. (chapter: "Twentieth Century Limited")
- The most basic inherent constraint is that neither time nor wisdom are free goods available in unlimited quantity. This means that in social processes, as in economic processes, it is not only impossible to attain perfection but irrational to seek perfection— or even to seek the "best possible" result in each separate instance.
- "'Entitlement' is not only the opposite of achievement, it undermines incentives to do all the hard work that leads to achievement. It is the people who were born and raised in the welfare state atmosphere who seem to have great difficulty finding jobs."
- "To me, the fact that I have never killed an editor is proof that the death penalty deters."
- "When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup."
- "Too many academics write as if plain English is beneath their dignity and some seem to regard logic as an unconstitutional infringement of their freedom of speech."
- "Envy plus rhetoric equals 'social justice'."
- "One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain."
- "If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today."
- "Blacks were not enslaved because they were black but because they were available. Slavery has existed in the world for thousands of years. Whites enslaved other whites in Europe for centuries before the first black was brought to the Western hemisphere. Asians enslaved Europeans. Asians enslaved other Asians. Africans enslaved other Africans, and indeed even today in North Africa, blacks continue to enslave blacks."
- "The next time some academics tell you how important 'diversity' is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department."
- "The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."
- "Both free speech rights and property rights belong legally to individuals, but their real function is social, to benefit vast numbers of people who do not themselves exercise these rights."
- "Prices are important not because money is considered paramount but because prices are a fast and effective conveyor of information through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated."
- "The real minimum wage is zero [unemployment]."
- "Imagine a political system so radical as to promise to move more of the poorest 20% of the population into the richest 20% than remain in the poorest bracket within the decade? You don't need to imagine it. It's called the United States of America."
- "The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive."
- "Liberals seem to assume that, if you don't believe in their particular political solutions, then you don't really care about the people that they claim to want to help."
- "A recently reprinted memoir by Frederick Douglass has footnotes explaining what words like 'arraigned,' 'curried' and 'exculpate' meant, and explaining who Job was. In other words, this man who was born a slave and never went to school educated himself to the point where his words now have to be explained to today's expensively under-educated generation."
- "Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late."
- "Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric."
- "One of the most fashionable notions of our times is that social problems like poverty and oppression breed wars. Most wars, however, are started by well-fed people with time on their hands to dream up half-baked ideologies or grandiose ambitions, and to nurse real or imagined grievances."
- "Like a baseball game, wars are not over till they are over. Wars don't run on a clock like football. No previous generation was so hopelessly unrealistic that this had to be explained to them."
- "Would you bet your paycheck on a weather forecast for tomorrow? If not, then why should this country bet billions on 'global warming' predictions that have even less foundation?"
- "Many of the same people who cry 'No blood for oil' also want higher gas-mileage standards for cars. But higher mileage standards have meant lighter and flimsier cars, leading to more injuries and deaths in accidents — in other words, trading blood for oil."
- "It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance."
- "The simplest and most psychologically satisfying explanation of any observed phenomenon is that it happened that way because someone wanted it to happen that way."
- "Facts do not 'speak for themselves.' They speak for or against competing theories. Facts divorced from theories or visions are mere isolated curiosities."
- "The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite."
- "The Massachusetts Institute of Technology accepts blacks in the top ten percent of students, but at MIT this puts them in the bottom ten percent of the class" (1980s)
- "What "multiculturalism" boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture - and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture"
Last modified on 9 November 2008, at 02:48