Forward Thinking: Wisdom in American politics

Loren Simmonds

The story of America has been fractured into a thousand pieces.

In fact, it has been burdened with so much ideological baggage that studying history actually alienates most young Americans from the possibility of properly appreciating their past.

It has only been in the last 20 years, that a suitable level textbook in U.S. History has been produced and can be suitable for recommendation. None too soon, I might.

I share this because over the decades a parallel wisdom in American politics has surfaced without any particular fanfare. I refer to this as the Layman’s Guide to American Politics. Over the years, I have made it a habit to collect tidbits of wisdom — and there are many, many of them.

In the balance of this column, I want to share no less than 22 of my collected wisdom statements. Some you will probably recognize…some may be new to you. Nevertheless, I hope you will enjoy what you read and be all the wiser when you finish.

• Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself. (Mark Twain)

• 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)

• A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. (George Bernard Shaw)

• A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. (G. Gordon Liddy)

• Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. (James Bovard)

• Foreign Aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. (Douglas Casey)

• Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. (P.J. O’Rourke)

• Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. (Frederic Bastiat)

•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)

• I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
(Will Rogers)

• If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it is free. (P.J. O’Rourke)

• In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of citizens to give to the other. (Voltaire)

• Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean that politics won’t take an interest in you. (Pericles)

• No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session. (Mark Twain)

• Talk is cheap – except when Congress does it. (Unknown)

• The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. (Ronald Reagan)

• 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)

• The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. (Mark Twain)

• The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. (Herbert Spencer)

• There is no distinctly native American criminal class . . .save Congress. (Mark Twain)

• What this country needs are more unemployed politicians. (Edward Langley)

• A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. (Thomas Jefferson)

In closing, some of the above quotes may have made you chuckle out loud. Others may have resulted in a smile crossing your face. And others prompted a frown or feelings of sadness. At least that has been my reaction over the years.

My hope is that you may have paused long enough to reflect on your own attitudes about some of the comments shared. In the final analysis, do you need any attitude adjustments going forward?

Until next time. . .

— By Loren Simmonds

 Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 37 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years, including eight as Council President. He remains active in the community by serving on the Parks and Recreation Foundation Board, Civil Service Commission and the Snohomish County Planning Commission. He believes that volunteerism sows the seeds of community. Loren is semi-retired and works as a writer, speaker and leadership coach.


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