Sunday, October 04, 2015

Liberty Notes from Larry Reed (1)

Updating the "Liberty Notes from Larry Reed", taken from Lawrence/Larry's facebook wall statu in 2012.

Larry is the President of the Foundation for Economic Education (, a big free market think in the US. He used to be the President of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, also a free market think tank based in Midlands, Michigan. He moved to FEE to do a bigger job in promoting liberty across America and the rest of the world as Mackinac is concerned more with policy issues in Michigan.

I first met him in Michigan when I attended the Mackinac Leadership Conference in mid-April 2004, when I was given an international fellows scholarship by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation ( in the US. It was a one month training, exposure and meetings with many free market leaders in the US and other parts of the world. It was also my first trip to the US :-)

With Larry and some batchmates during the Mackinac Leadership Conference.

Below are quotes from various thinkers that Larry posted in his fb wall in January 2012. I did not include wall posts with links.

I will post more liberty notes and quotes from him in this blog in the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile, enjoy these erudite ideas (and some funny quotes) from him and from various thinkers in the past.

"Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?" -- Robert Orben.

"When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; now I'm beginning to believe it" -- Clarence Darrow.

"We must pity the poor wretched, timid soul who is too faint-hearted to resist his oppressors. He sings the song of the dammed: 'I can’t fight back; I have too much to lose; I own too much property; I have worked too hard to get what I have; They will put me out of business if I resist; I might go to jail; I have my family to think about.' Such poor miserable creatures have misplaced values and are hiding their cowardice behind pretended family responsibility--blindly refusing to see that the most glorious legacy that one can bequeath to posterity is liberty; and that the only true security is liberty" -- Marvin Cooley.

"Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage" -- H. L. Mencken.

"It takes less time to do a thing right than it does to explain why you did it wrong" -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all" -- Frederic Bastiat, author of "The Law."

Our batch "graduation" photo after the 4 days Mackinac Leadership Conference, April 2004.

Socialists refuse to take responsibility for their own handiwork. They propose A and when it fails, they propose B to deal with the problems that A created. B, of course, is yet another intervention and when it flops, they propose intervention C, and on and on. Actual effects and results don’t matter. Mere good intentions are sufficient to avoid culpability for bad advice and move on to the next reckless recommendation. Socialism is not a science; it's a cult, just a notch below witchcraft and palm-reading.

"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made" -- John Godfrey Saxe, 1869.

"The best time to make friends is before you need them" -- Ethel Barrymore.

"Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at" -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

"Honesty is not a policy; it is a state of mind" -- Eugene L'Hote.

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders" -- Samuel Adams.

"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own" -- Thomas Jefferson.

Why is it that when you transport something by car, it's called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it's called cargo?

"At least dogs do what you tell them to do. Cats take a message and get back to you" -- unknown author.

"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos" -- H. L. Mencken.

"No wind favors he who has no destined port" -- Michel de Montaigne, French essayist and man of letters (1553-1592). In other words, get some principles and some backbone. Few things are more disgusting than a person who makes no difference in the world because he stands for nothing.

"Now and then an innocent man is sent to the legislature" -- K. Hubbard.

"Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak, and at last some crisis shows us what we have become" — B. F. Westcott, British theologian (1825-1901).

"Don't wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it" -- Mark Twain.

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold" -- Proverbs 22:1.

Anticipating Obama's State of the Union speech later tonight, I'm reminded of something Groucho Marx once said: "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it."

"Laws control the lesser person. Right conduct controls the greater one" -- unknown author.

"We live in a stage of politics where legislators seem to regard the passage of laws as much more important than the results of their enforcement" -- William Howard Taft, 27th president.

"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress" -- Frederick Douglass.

"There should be a sympathy with freedom, a desire to give it scope, founded not upon visionary ideas, but upon the long experience of many generations within the shores of this happy isle, that in freedom you lay the firmest foundations both of loyalty and order; the firmest foundations for the development of individual character; and the best provision for the happiness of the nation at large" -- William Ewert Gladstone, four-time British Prime Minister.

"It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them" -- Mark Twain, anticipating Obama's Nobel by a full century.

"The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together" -- Eric Hoffer.

"No legal tender law is ever needed to make men take good money; its only use is to make them take bad money" -- Stephen T. Byington.

A photo with Larry and Mackinac's Russ Harding, at the Atlas Liberty Forum in Chicago, late April 2004.

"True education makes for inequality--the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success, the glorious inequality of talent, of genius; for inequality, not mediocrity, individual superiority, not standardization, is the measure of the progress of the world" -- Felix E. Schelling.

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities" -- Ayn Rand. I love this quote. How many people who boast of their defense of minorities have never found one smaller than a large group?

"The only kind of freedom that the mob can imagine is freedom to annoy and oppress its betters, and that is precisely the kind that we mainly have" -- H. L. Mencken.

"Those who lack the capacity to achieve much in an atmosphere of freedom will clamor for power" -- Eric Hoffer.

"Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril" -- William Lloyd Garrison.

"What’s 'just' has been debated for centuries, but let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then, tell me how much of what I earn 'belongs' to you and why?" -- economist Walter Williams.

"A man’s liberties are none the less aggressed upon because those who coerce him do so in the belief that he will be benefited" -- Herbert Spencer, 19th Century English classical liberal and author of "The Man Versus the State" (1884).

"The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule" -- F. A. Hayek.

"Some lawyers and judges may have forgotten it, but the purpose of the court system is to produce justice, not slavish obedience to the law" -- Charlie Reese.

"Political speeches are like steer horns: A point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between" -- an unknown but very observant author.

"False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing" -- Joseph De Maistre.

"Only dead fish swim with the stream" -- Malcolm Muggeridge.

"Be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out" -- Stephen A. Kallis, Jr.

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life" -- Winston Churchill.

"Don't think you're on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path" -- author unknown.

"The masses, the hosts of common men, do not conceive any ideas, sound or unsound. They only choose between the ideologies developed by the intellectual leaders of mankind. But their choice is final and determines the course of events. If they prefer bad doctrines, nothing can prevent disaster" -- Ludwig von Mises in "Human Action."

"The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident" -- Charles Lamb, English essayist (1775-1834).

One of the irrefutable, big-picture truisms of history is this: The bigger government gets, the smaller YOU get. The only exceptions are the corrupt and the politically well-connected. Learn it, live it, teach it, vote it--or your children will live in serfdom.

"This is the gravest danger that today threatens civilization: State intervention, the absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State; that is to say, of spontaneous historical action, which in the long-run sustains, nourishes and impels human destinies" -- José Ortega y Gasset.

"Far from failing in its intended task, our educational system is in fact succeeding magnificently, because its aim is to keep the American people thoughtless enough to go on supporting the system" -- Richard Mitchell.

"The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others....Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign" -- John Stuart Mill.

"Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place" -- Frederic Bastiat.

"The tax that was supposed to soak the rich has instead soaked America. The beneficiary of the income tax has not been the poor, but big government. The income tax has given us a government bureaucracy that outnumbers the manufacturing work force. It has created welfare dependencies that have entrapped millions of Americans in an underclass that is forced to live a sordid existence of trading votes for government handouts" -- economist Paul Craig Roberts.

"We stand today at a crossroads: One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other leads to total extinction. Let us hope we have the wisdom to make the right choice" -- Woody Allen.

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man" -- Thomas Jefferson.

"The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters" -- Frederick Douglass.

"As long as the law may be diverted from its true purpose--that it may violate property instead of protecting it--then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting to gain access to the legislature as well as fighting within it" -- Frederic Bastiat, author of "The Law," which every lover of liberty should read (available free at

"The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous" -- Frederick Douglass.

"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men" -- Samuel Adams.

"Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable" -- Helen Keller.

"True liberty cannot exist apart from the full rights of property, for property is the only crystallized form of free faculties...The whole meaning of socialism is a systematic glorification of force....No literary phrases about social organisms are potent enough to evaporate the individual, who is the prime, indispensable, irreducible element" -- Auberon Herbert, "voluntaryist" and my favorite 19th Century political philosopher.

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves" -- Bertrand de Jouvenel.

"Give me control over a man's economic actions, and hence over his means of survival, and except for a few occasional heroes, I'll promise to deliver to you men who think and write and behave as I want them to" -- Ben Rogge, a great economist long associated with FEE and Wabash College (1920-1980).

"The man who craves disciples and wants followers is always more or less of a charlatan. The man of genuine worth and insight wants to be himself; and he wants others to be themselves, also" -- Elbert Hubbard.

"Government does not cause affluence. Citizens of totalitarian countries have plenty of government and nothing of anything else" -- P. J. O'Rourke.

"Why is it that millions of children who are pushouts or dropouts amount to business as usual in the public schools, while one family educating a child at home becomes a major threat to universal public education and the survival of democracy?" -- Stephen Arons.

"A recent poll showed that nearly half the American public believes that the government should redistribute wealth. That so many people are so willing to blithely put such an enormous and dangerous arbitrary power in the hands of politicians--risking their own freedom, in hopes of getting what someone else has--is a painful sign of how far many citizens and voters fall short of what is needed to preserve a democratic republic" -- Thomas Sowell.

"You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips" -- English author Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774).

"If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves" -- Carl Jung.

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule--and both commonly succeed, and are right" -- H. L. Mencken.

"Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason" -- José Maria de Eça de Queiroz, translated from Portuguese.

"Where there are too many policemen, there is no liberty. Where there are too many soldiers, there is no peace. Where there are too many lawyers, there is no justice" -- Lyn Yutang.

"He is a fool who cannot conceal his wisdom" -- Benjamin Franklin.

"If you suppose that good intentions justify intruding on the lives and properties of your fellow citizens: Do you appreciate being the target of somebody else's good intentions, or haven't you had that particular dubious pleasure yet?" -- unknown author.

"If vice and corruption prevail, liberty cannot subsist; but if virtue have the advantage, arbitrary power cannot be established" -- Algernon Sidney (1622-1683), English statesman, writer, Whig leader.

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root" -- Henry David Thoreau.

"Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind" -- Henry Grady Weaver, author of "The Mainspring of Human Progress."

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