Some of My Favorite Quotes

“If the end does not justify the means, what does?...To deny that the end justifies the means is indirectly to assert that...the ultimate end is itself the use of proper means.”—Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

“If one saves a single life, it is as if one saved an entire world.”—Talmudic saying

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”—St. Philo of Alexandria

“Some 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 is a patron, the last a punisher.”—Thomas Paine

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”—Martin Luther King

“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”—Frédéric Bastiat

“Violence merely exercised in self-defense, all societies from the most primitive to the most cultured and civilized, accept as moral and legal. The principle of self-defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned, even by Gandhi...When the Negro uses force in self-defense, he does not forfeit support—he may even win it, by the courage and self-respect it reflects.”—Martin Luther King, Jr., 1959. Quoted in Timothy B. Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), 215.

“The old proverb about politics making strange bedfellows is quite wrong; it makes the most natural bedfellows in the world. Crook lies down with crook in any bed that interest offers; swine snoozes with swine in any pen that interest opens.”—Albert Jay Nock, A Journal of These Days, 1934.

“The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.”—Jacob Bronowski

“We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking.”—Mark Twain

“Getting benefits from a bad practice or institution is only wrong if one supports it and isn't willing to give it up once it is abolished”—Tibor R. Machan

“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the Body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.”—Thomas Jefferson

“I have scant sympathy with a plea of insanity advanced to save a man from the consequences of crime when, unless that crime had been committed, it would have been impossible to persuade any reasonable authority to commit him to an asylum as insane.”—Theodore Roosevelt's response to a plea of insanity by a prisoner on death row

“In my considerable experience, I have never, ever, heard a parent say to a child that it's okay to forcibly take toys away from other children who have more toys than you do.  Nor have I ever heard a parent tell a child that if one kid has more than the others, then it's okay for those others to form a ‘government’ and vote to take those toys away.”—economist Steve Landsburg

“It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”—James Madison

“The Clintons, who are unrivaled in their ability to combine sleaziness and self-righteousness, deserve every bit of humiliation and inconvenience they are suffering.”—Jacob Sullum

“When legislation attracts broad, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, chances are it is either a worthless piece of symbolism or an assault on individual freedom.”—Jacob Sullum

“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.”—Thomas Sowell

“We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.”—F. A. Hayek

“Business is a creative activity, just like writing a novel or sculpting a statue. And it requires the same traits as other creative activities: imagination, self-discipline and often, courage.”—David Kelley

“I do believe that where there is a choice only between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.”—Mahatma Ghandhi, Young India, August 11, 1920

“There's no way to rule innocent men...When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them.  One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws.”—Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom.  I hope you make good use of it.”—John Quincy Adams

“We grant mainstream journalists a credibility they have not really earned. Their expertise is in journalism (or maybe just in news presenting) rather than in any of the areas they talk about. They may be accurate enough when they say something like, 'John Major said in Parliament today that...' but that is not the same thing as telling you whether or not he was talking crap. Most mainstream journalism is opinions backed up by other opinions, seldom from any reliable experts; it hardly qualifies as credible to those who actually know anything about the subjects these journalists are reporting on.”—Avedon Carol, author of Nudes, Prudes, and Attitudes.

“And how we burned in the camps latter, thinking:  What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?  Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?  After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose.  And you could be sure ahead of time that you'd be cracking the skull of a cutthroat.  Or what about the Black Maria sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur—what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked?  The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!  If...if...We didn't love freedom enough.  And even more—we had no awareness of the real situation.  We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit.  We submitted with pleasure!  ...........We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”—From footnote #5, page 13 of The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr I. Solzhitsyn

“Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”—Mark Twain

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”—T.S. Eliot , 1950.

“False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty — so dear to men, so dear to the enlightened legislator — and subject innocent persons to all the vexations that the guilty alone ought to suffer? Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve to rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. They ought to be designated as laws not preventative but fearful of crimes, produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts, and not by thoughtful consideration of the inconveniences and advantages of a universal decree.”—18th-century scholar Cesare Beccaria of Milan