Grandfather Economic Report series
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Famous Quotes
By Michael Hodges - email
updated April 2011
- a chapter of the Grandfather Economic Reports -

A tribute is paid to

- Many agree it foolish to ignore great wisdom of the past -
- Many also agree we depart from this wisdom at our nation's peril -

This page is a part of the Grandfather Economic Report series, a review of economic trends revealing threats facing young families and youth, compared to prior generations - displaying hard data evidence from reliable sources in color graphic form, on subjects such as > > debt, government, family incomes, social security, international trade, regulations, inflation, energy, voter turnout, trust, healthcare, national security and education. A table of contents is on the home page. The chapter  you are now visiting contains powerful and instructive quotes.

guarding our forefather's original intent1. The 4 principal reasons why a federal government was formed: "(1) The common defense (national security); (2) the preservation of public peace, as well against internal convulsions as external attacks; (3) the regulation of commerce with other nations and between states; (4) the superintendent of our intercourse, political and commercial, with foreign countries (foreign affairs)." - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper No.23, 1787 - a founding father with most important interpretation of the Constitution.

2. Above in more detail: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State." - James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 25, 1788 - considered the 'father of the Constitution'

3. "With respect to the words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." - James Madison

< (editor note: the above 3 quotes (and #27 below)  prove our nation's founders intended that the Federal Government NOT be involved in social issues concerning citizens, such as: social security, Medicare, Medicaid, health, welfare, education, income redistribution, entitlements, unemployment insurance, farm subsidies, housing, flood insurance, etc.) >

4. Thomas Jefferson's prediction: "The natural progress of things is for government to gain ground and for liberty to yield."

5. "There is in the nature of government an impatience of control that disposes those invested with power to look with an evil eye upon all external attempts to restrain or direct its operations. This has its origin in the love of power. Representatives of the people are not superior to the people themselves." - Alexander Hamilton - Federalist Paper No.15, 1787.

6. "Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison - 1788

7. "I place economy among the first and most important of republic virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared." -Thomas Jefferson to William Plumer, 1816 (See 2 powerful Debt Reports > of the Federal Government and of The Total Nation)

8. "The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance." - Thomas Jefferson

9. "Democracy was the right of the people to choose their own tyrants." - James Madison

10. "Judge the future by the past." - Patrick Henry - 1736-1799

< (editor note: the following 4 quotes (11, 12, 13, 14) state the intent of our nation's founders  regarding foreign affairs) >

11. "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations - entangling alliances with none." - Thomas Jefferson, 1801 inaugural address.

12. "America... well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extraction, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force... She might become dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit." - John Quincy Adams; Address, 4 July 1821

13. "Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all... The Nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest ... Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world." - George Washington, Farewell Address, 17 Sept. 1796.

14. "I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be." - Thomas Jefferson

15. "No legislative act contrary to the Constitution can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representative of the people is superior to the people." - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper No. 78.

16. "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other." - John Quincy Adams, 6th President of USA.

17. "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage." Alexander Tyler (When the thirteen colonies were still a part of England, Scottish Historian/Professor Alexander Tyler wrote about the fall of the Athenian republic over two thousand years previous to that time. NOTE > some have questioned the source of this quote, and that the last name was 'Tytler', not Tyler)

18. "On every question of construction (of The Constitution), let us carry ourselves back to the time when The Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." - Thomas Jefferson

19. "A small leak can sink a great ship." - Benjamin Franklin

20. "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke 1729-1797

21. "Aided by a little sophistry on the words 'general welfare', [they claim] a right to do not only the acts to effect that which are specifically enumerated and permitted, but whatsoever they shall think or pretend will be for the general welfare." --- Thomas Jefferson 1825 to W. Giles.

22. "For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world but lose his own soul." - Mark 8:36

23. "No generation has a right to contract debts greater than can be paid off during the course of its own existence." - George Washington to James Madison 1789.

24. "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them, will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.
  Thomas Jefferson - letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin (1802).

25. "...There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing." - Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837

26. "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson

27. “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” --Thomas Jefferson

28. "It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." Frederic Bastiat's famous economics book The Law, published in 1850

29. "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it an a moral Code that glorifies it." Frederic Bastiat

30. "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed."  - Mohandas K. Ghandi

31. "You can fool some of the people all of the time, all the people some of the time, but not all the people all of the time." - Abraham Lincoln ??

32. "The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." - Plato 429-347 B.C.

33. "He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing." - Benjamin Franklin

34. "The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races: the men who borrow, and the men who lend."Charles Lamb

35. "He who borrows sells his freedom." - German Proverb

36.  "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." - William Pitt (1759-1806)

"An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.. . . The People cannot be safe without information. When the press is free, and every man is able to read, all is safe."  - Thomas Jefferson
>> EDITOR NOTE > > this quote forms one of the motivations for creating this Grandfather Economic Report series - - to help assure there are more informed citizens.


My favorite contemporary quotes >

a. "The farther backward you look, the farther forward you can see." - Winston Churchill - (NOTE: the wisdom of this quote is reflected by the fact each chapter of The Grandfather Economic Report series displays data history in long-term picture-graphic form to help tell each story, with integrity).

b. "Life is tough; it's tougher if you're stupid" - John Wayne - (For sure you will be less stupid if you take the time to form your view based on hard data trends, such as shown in this core-threat summary of the Grandfather Economic Report series.

c. "Old age ain't no place for sissies." - Bette Davis - academy award winning actress - (NOTE: being of grandfather age I can attest to the quality of this quote).

Now to some other great quotes >

  1. "There doubtless are many causes for the loss of freedom, but surely a major cause has been the growth of government and its increasing control of our lives. Today, government, directly or indirectly, controls the spending of as much as half our national income." - Milton Friedman, Nobel laureate in Economics - 1998 (see Graphics)
  2. "Modern civilization is a product of the philosophy of laissez faire (non-interference). It cannot be preserved under the ideology of government omnipotence (all-powerful)." Ludwig Von Mises, 'Human Action' xxxiv - 1949 - World renowned economist and social philosopher - 1831-1973
  3. "Trust but verify" - Ronald Reagan, U.S. President, 1980-88 - - speaking about foreign leaders.
  4. "We hear sad complaints sometimes of merciless creditors; whilst the acts of merciless debtors are passed over in silence." - William Frend, 1817
  5. "If decade after decade the truth cannot be told, each person's mind begins to roam irretrievably." Alexander Solzhenitsyn - Nobel laureate Literature 1970
  6. "Capitalism will always have dramas. It is governments that turn them into crisis." - William Emmott, editor The Economist, 11 Sept. 1999
  7. "Behind all the complexities of modern political economy lies the simple fact that human beings are, speaking generally, of two persuasions: the first would spend tomorrow what they earn today; the second would spend today what they hope to earn tomorrow. From this rudimentary biological fact arise all conflicts that lead to economic crises: to panics, depressions, violent and revolutionary transfers of wealth, and perhaps most wars." Freeman Tilden, 'A World in Debt' - 1935
  8. "The only secret is the history you don't know." - Harry S. Truman, former president.
  9. "The only proper purpose of government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man's self defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of government are: to protect you from criminals; the military, to protect you from foreign invaders; and, the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law." - 'Atlas Shrugged', by renowned philosopher Ayn Rand, 1957.
  10. "There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose." Lord John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), renowned British economist.
  11. "The American future is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Government becomes the parent, as “it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living? Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” - 'Alexis de Tocqueville, 'Democracy in America,' Vol. 2, Part 4, Chap. 6 (1840).
  12. "In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves. Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes. The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit (debt creation)." - by Allan Greenspan (#8) in The Objectivist newsletter published in 1966, reprinted in Ayn Rand's Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. (See Inflation Report)
  13. "The decline of great powers is caused by simple economic over extension." Paul Kennedy 'The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers - economic change and military conflicts 1500-2000' - (See International Debt & Trade Report)
  14. "Government is best that governs least." - Henry Thoreau, in 'Civil Disobedience' -'people should not permit governments to overrule'
  15. "Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens against crimes against themselves or their property. When government -- in pursuit of good intentions -- tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the costs come in inefficiency, lack of innovation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player. It is my view that what is important is cutting government spending, however spending is financed. A so-called deficit is a disguised and hidden form of taxation. The real burden on the public is what government spends (and mandates others to spend). As I have said repeatedly, I would rather have government spend one trillion dollars with a deficit of a half a trillion than have government spend two trillion dollars with no deficit." - Milton Friedman, Noble laureate
  16. "It is the aim of good government to stimulate production, of bad government to encourage consumption." - Jean Baptiste Say, French economist 1767-1832 (Hodges' note - America's economy in 2008 was two-thirds consumption and government size was 43% of the economy).
  17. "Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done! And I am Caesar." 100 BC to 44 BC.
  18. "The emotions of man are stirred more quickly than his intelligence."  - Oscar Wilde 1854-1900
  19. "Stay on the balls of your feet and keep your eyes on the belt buckle." - good advice, whether playing basketball, listening to ravings of politicians or other salesmen, assessing financial markets, or dealing with family challenges. Author unknown
  20. "It [is] a common defect of men in fair weather to take no thought of storms."  - Machiavelli 1469-1527
  21. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead - other Meade quotes 1901-1978
  22. "Those who do not take an interest in public affairs are doomed to be ruled by evil men" -  PLATO - 300 B.C.
  23. "The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. Both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists." - Ernest Hemingway - 1899-1961 - Nobel laureate Literature 1954
  24. "There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit (debt) expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit (debt) expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved." - Ludwig von Mises, in Human Action, Regnery, 1966, p. 572.
  25. "The consequences of inflation are malinvestment, waste, a wanton redistribution of wealth and income, the growth of speculation and gambling, immorality and corruption, disillusionment, social resentment, discontent, upheaval and riots, bankruptcy, increased governmental controls, and eventual collapse." Henry Hazlitt 1894-1993
  26. "Free trade is economically efficient. Yet national independence is even more fundamental. [If] we have got to live in a mercantilist, nationalist, bellicose world dominated by a few great empires, on the one hand, and if the domestic policy of this country is to remain free to shape its own destiny, on the other hand, I do not see the possibility, and I should very much doubt the wisdom, of any major deviation from the policy of protection.”  -  Joseph Schumpeter, economist and political scientist
  27. "All truth passes through 3 phases: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed, and Third, it is accepted as self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer 1788-1860 - 19th century philosopher
  28. “By adopting programs to redistribute substantial amounts of income, a nation guarantees that its government will become more powerful and invasive in other ways.”  - Robert Higgs
  29. "We may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - - the apathy of human beings." - Hellen Keller 1880-1968 - famous deaf/blind author
  30. "We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality." - Ayn Rand, 20th century philosopher
  31. "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." - John Stuart Mill 1806-1873 - philosopher & political economist
  32. "Government interventions always breed economic dislocations that "necessitate" more government interventions."   Ludwig von Mises
  33. "There are always those in government who are anxious to increase its power and authority over the people. Strict adherence to personal privacy annoys those who promote a centralized state."   - Texas Congressman Ron Paul, January 2005
  34. "To the extent that there is a central bank governing the amount of money in the system, that is not a free market," said former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in September 2007 on T-V to Jon Stewart
  35. "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. A type of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."   - Albert Einstein 1879-1955 - Nobel laureate Physics 1921
  36. "Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks." - Warren Buffett, the world's 2nd richest man in 2005.
  37. A scary quote - - something of which to be most watchful > "It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion. If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."  - Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi German Minister of Propaganda, 1933-1945.
  38. "Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences." - Robert Louis Stevensen, novelist 1850-1894
  39. "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."  - Warren Buffett, world's 2nd richest man.
  40. "Thinking is the hardest work there is which is probably why so few people engage in it.” - Henry Ford 1863-1947 - founder of the Ford automotive company and the means of mass production. 
  41. Every lunatic thinks all other men are crazy.”  and "In heated arguments we are apt to lose sight of  the truth." and, "Better to be ignorant of a matter than half know it." - Publilius Syrus, Latin writer 50 B.C. - his other famous quotes
  42. During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” - George Orwell 1903-1950 author and journalist
  43. "Great Powers in relative decline instinctively respond by spending more on ‘security,’ and thereby divert potential resources from ‘investment’ and compound their long-term dilemma." - Historian Paul Kennedy describing “imperial overstretch” in The Rise and Fall of Great Powers 1989
  44. "Speculation, where everyone could earn money without work, was the pipe dream … this led to growth of special interests that did not coincide with the interests of the nation as a whole. We cannot allow economic life to be controlled by a small group of men … tinctured by the fact that they can make huge profits, not from production, but from lending money and marketing securities … we cannot tolerate this opportunistic, selfish attitude …"  - Franklin Roosevelt memo to trade commissioner Landis Nov. 1933
  45. "Ponzi’ finance units must increase its outstanding debt in order to meet its financial obligations.” - Hyman Minsky, economist, characteristics of financial crises
  46. “Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences.” - Robert Louis Stevenson
  47. "The security of the dollar involves the security of us all... We are determined to do whatever must be done in the interest of this country and, indeed, in the interest of all to protect the dollar as a convertible currency at its current fixed rate.We are determined to maintain the firm relationship of gold and the dollar at the present price of $35 an ounce, and I can assure you will do just that." - speech 30 Sept. 1963 by President Kennedy to the IMF. (the Dollar Foreign Exchange Report shows what happened to the dollar in the following years, as JFK's commitment was ignored.)
  48. When economic prospects are at their brightest, the dangers of complacency and recklessness are greatest. As our prosperity proceeds on its record-breaking path, it behooves every one of us to scan the horizon of our national and international economy for danger signals so as to be ready for any storm.” Taking away the 'punch bowl.' - Bill Martin - former Federal Reserve Bank chairman - 1965 at Columbia U.
  49. "Men go mad in herds but only come to their senses one by one." - Charles Mackay, the 19th-century Scottish journalist
  50. "IF you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting - - Rudyard kipling
  51. "When I was fourteen I  thought my father was a complete idiot but by the time I turned 21 I was amazed by how much the old man had learned." - Mark Twain 1835-1910 American writer
  52. "I am not young enough to know everything."  - Oscar Wilde
  53. The boiling frog story states that "a frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough — it is said that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out." The story is generally told in a figurative context, with the upshot being that people should make themselves aware of gradual change lest they suffer a catastrophic loss - - such as ever increasing personal debt, ever increasing government size, sinking in quick sand, etc.
  54. "If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?"  - Will Rogers, columinist 1830
  55. "Life is tough; it's tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne
  56. “The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.” – Margaret Thatcher, former British prime minister.

And - - we end with a repeat of this author's favorites >
        a. "The farther backward you look, the farther forward you can see." - Winston Churchill - (NOTE: the wisdom of this     quote is reflected in that each chapter of The Grandfather Economic Report series displays data history in long-term picture-graphic form to help tell each story).
         b. "Old age ain't no place for sissies." - Bette Davis - academy award winning actress - (NOTE: being of grandfather age I can attest to the quality of this quote).

Perhaps these quotes may add deeper perspective to our thoughts
{ Consider proposing addition of your own favorite quotes - by e-mail }

RETURN To HOME PAGE & INDEX of the Grandfather Economic Report of dramatic pictures reviewing economic threats facing young families and their children, compared to the past. (this is a listing by subject of each mini-report in the Grandfather Economic Report series).



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