Sagacious Quotations Endure The Ages
By Dr. James Palermo // March 24, 2013
Wise Voices From The Past
BREVARD COUNTY • MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA — Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy, all great men and thought-leaders of their times and in their own right. In fact, they most certainly would have been highly sought today as pundits and “talking heads” had the media in the eighteenth, nineteenth and most of the twentieth century had the technological capabilities and demand for minute-to-minute, 24/7 commentary through multiple venues and vehicles like we have now.
Perspicacious quotations, which used to be inspirational, thought-provoking, and sometimes humorous seem to have now evolved into the fifteen second “sound-bite.” We look to our leaders for wisdom, but, perhaps having keen mental perception and understanding, which is the definition of perspicacious, has alluded the very individuals to whom we look for direction and guidance.
With a focus on a fair and balanced approach, two relatively recent outrageous quotations by contemporary leaders come immediately to mind.
In remarks at the 2010 Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties, which was before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed in March of 2010, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.”
In remarks that were made at a private fund-raiser and caught on smart-phone video, Mitt Romney declared that he would focus on unaligned voters and not on the 47 percent of the population that supported Obama and who are dependent on government and believe they are entitled to healthcare, food and housing subsidies. “My job is not to worry about those people,” Romney said. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
The disconcerting fact about these two quotations is that, despite their dire impact on the reputation and credibility of the sources (Pelosi will never live down her rash and irrational statement and Romney’s campaign was fatally crippled by his), there unfortunately is a modicum of truth to both statements.
That having been said about our contemporaries, please allow me to share with you some profound, compelling, and at times humorous and a bit outrageous thoughts originating from perhaps a simpler time, but that have endured over the years and are still relevant, at least from my perspective, to our present political and economic quagmire.
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. — Thomas Jefferson
I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. — Winston Churchill
The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. — Winston Churchill
If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free! — P. J. O’Rourke
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. — P.J. O’Rourke
If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed. — Mark Twain
Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself. — Mark Twain
No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. — Mark Twain
There is no distinctly Native American criminal class, save Congress. — Mark Twain
A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. — George Bernard Shaw
Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. —Frederic Bastiat, Frencheconomist (1801-1850)
Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. — Ronald Reagan
The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.— Ronald Reagan
Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it. — Anonymous
I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. — Will Rogers
Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do — Will Rogers
The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets. — Will Rogers
Taxpayers are sending congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it except they keep coming back. — Will Rogers
The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. — Adrian Rogers
When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation! — Adrian Rogers
There are always going to be people who want to be president, and some days I’d like to give it to them. – Bill Clinton
The best social program is a good job — Bill Clinton
It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours. — Harry S. Truman
If you can’t convince them, confuse them — Harry S. Truman
And lastly, my personal favorite and sage advice to the executive and legislative branches of our government in Washington D.C. and the state capitals across the country:
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. — John F. Kennedy