"It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve."
by:
Henry George
(1839-1897) American political economist
Source:
The Functions of Government, Social problems, vol 12, (1884)
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Reader comments about this quote:
In my opinion, this is a five-star quote. Our state and ferderal governments are already in the stage mentioned in the latter portion of the quote. The colossal number of prohibitions, ordinances, laws and regulatory agencies in our government have made true liberty virtually impossible. It is nearly infeasible for a citizen to go through a normal day without violating a single law, regulation or local ordinance. Marc Richardson www.SaveTheGuns.com
 -- www.SaveTheGuns.com, Shapleigh, Maine     
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    and this is one of the best justifications as to why unlimited gun ownership is so foolish and down right dangerous... no private citizen NEEDS a glock or a bazooka or a rocket launcher or any fully automatic rifle or ...(the list goes on).
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    A perfect argument against all forms of prohibition. As far as an armed citizenry goes, not only is it a inalienable right, but a necessary support for liberty. Yes, citizens need glocks, cannons, bombs -- everything. Not only is there no place in the Constitution that prohibits the possession of all types of arms, but the right is specifically enumerated as reserved forever. The state militia (which consists of all the citizens) must be as prepared as the national army (which was to be disbanded after 2 years). The 'federalization' of the republican states has resulted in the loss of these responsibilities and in the shift in the consciousness of the people into believing the only ones that can be trusted with arms are the politicians. America where is your courage?
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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     -- Joe, Rochester, MIl      
    Archer, well said!
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The Constitution says a "Well regulated Militia". Private ownership of regulation is far beyond a need, it is an inalienable right (not to be modified by mortal man). Post 9-11 makes it abundantly obvious, the need for regulation is greater now than ever before, to protect against enemies, foreign and domestic. Regulation includes glock(s), bazooka(s), rocket launcher(s), fully automatic rifle(s), cannon(s), bomb(s), etc. and when modified by the word and concept "Well" the founders concept becomes very clear. The quote here is but one concept proving the founders right once again.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Ask those Jewish women in the Seattle Jewish Center who were gunned down by an Islamic madman if they needed a gun. Well, you can ask five of them, the other is dead.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    If only the government would get out of the business of protecting fools from the consequences of their folly! No more Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac bailouts. No more Wellfare. No more Social Security.
     -- John Anderson, Tacoma, WA     
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    So much for Communist "red light cameras"...
     -- David Ben-Ariel, Toledo, Ohio     
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    Reston, what is "foolish" and "downright dangerous" is governments restrictive gun laws. The A.T.F., Alcohol ,Tobacco and Firearms should be a convenience store , not a government agency.
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
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    Reston, stand by your principles for they are good. Weapons in the hands of fools is suicide as proven by the number who are killed by their own weapons. This also happens on a big scale too. We gave arms to the Taliban and they then use them against their givers. This quote has nothing to do with guns and yet you all immediately jump on the bandwagon supporting the position of the NRA - give me a break.... We are talking about the protection of equal rights from the agression of others. The reason police do not carry guns in the UK is because the criminals would then arm themselves. Of all the burglar's that Scotland Yard apprehended only 2% had guns in the US it is 60% - In the US we have more people killed by their own weapons. If we imprisoned and/or have enormous fines, for those with weapons, then after a short period, say two years, totally disarm the police force. O what a dream.... Instead, humans will stew in their own slime. This excuse to carry guns because some maniac will shoot you is so dumb it's just another indication how uncivilized we really are. While we have this mentality of the right to carry arms we will never progress spiritually, we will remain in an aggressive (negative) mode which means our intellect remains static as shown by the current political and religious advances in the last 200 years (I'm not sure if i got the 200 years right it may be more or less). He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. By the way, Jesus said that.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    RBESRQ, I love the whole sword analogy, I happen to understand and agree but, in what life and where did Jesus say that? And, by the way, the position doesn't belong to the NRA (they only support it), the position is a statement of unalienable rights. You've only alluded to a small portion of the gun argument, you haven't mentioned how much property and how many lives have been saved.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Wonder how long it will be before the liberal Marxists in D.C. "protect" us from the internet?
     -- Jeano, Dover, NH     
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    Today's quotes are okay but they fail to recognize the rights of these individuals to organize. Just as a "capitalist" can throw his money around and organize things to suit his interest, humanity can orgazize things via labor uinions, political acition committes etc to to suit their interests. So if capital is against envrironmental conercers for example, people can counter capital via the vote etcetera.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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     -- Johann Hollar, Saint Paul, MN      
    Archer has it right, well said
     -- Tina, Gaffney,SC     
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    'protecting ... from aggression' is the key idea for me in this quote.
     -- Wayne, Naples     
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    Mike, I think this works.... Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. —Matthew 26:52, King James Version.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    The idiotic anti gun logic in here if extended would mean that nobody would be allowed to own knives, baseball bats, rolling pins, or anything that could conceivably be used as a weapon. The inanimate object isnt what you are to be protected from. Its the act of aggression. And for Waffler, you are incorrect...again. Nothing in today's quotes fail to recognize an individuals right to organize. By protecting an individuals rights you also protect their right to free association. If you would like to get together with a group of people and vote on something you are more than welcome to, but your group doesnt have a right to violently impose your decision on others. In the case of a "capitalist", (otherwise know as the people who provide you your cars, clothes, etc.) you can just "vote" by not buying their product if you dont like their policies.
     -- Nick     
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    I am an an atheist but have read most religious books, including the Koran - I would like religious folk to do the same with atheist books - a good start would be Bertrand Russell's "Why I'm not Christian" Perhaps if we did this we would have a little more empathy and be able to discuss our individual views a little more openly.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Nick, the intention of a rolling pin is to make pastry and not to wallop your neighbor over the head just because you have a difference of opinion. Nick, you must read the Constitution again because I believe you have missed out the part that said the majority does not have the right to vote on the rights of minorities. With your thinking all hell would break loose. Prop 8 was totally against the American Constitution.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Robert, I am a Christian and also believe all religions should be read, including atheism. To have a knowledge and, an understanding of your brother(s), at least displays a hope and basis for non-violent relationships (hopefully, at least very cordial). I agree that Prop 8 was totally unconstitutional but not for the same reason as you. As sovereigns, our servants and otherwise hirelings have no authority or right to tell their masters with whom they can have a relationship with. Further, because marriage is a religious sacrament, the secular government has no authority or right to interfere (any interference would denote an establishment of religion - a theocracy). All governmental licensing is directly antithetical to the Constitution, unalienable rights, law, justice, freedom, and liberty.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    MIKE, YOUR ARGUMENT IS ONLY RATIONAL IF YOU TAKE EQUALLY THE RIGHTS OF BOTH SIDES OF THE ARGUMENT AND THAT I BELIEVE YOU FAIL TO DO. GOOD TRY THOUGH....
     -- RBESRQ     
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    " Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. ( Matthew 10:34,35. ) Thou Christ was passive unto death, he was not a fool, knowing well the traditions of men, making void the laws of God. The innocent blood upon the alter of Freedom, exposing oppression by majority tyranny. " And he ( Christ ) said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything ? Then said he unto them ( the twelve ), But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no SWORD, let him sell his garment and buy one. " ( Luke 22:36. ). This taking place just before entering the garden of Gethsemane. Peter and the apostles ordered to arm themselves against the oppressors. A passive Christian nation we are not. Though tolerant to a point, but that point has been reached, and disruption of the wholesome family unit is sickening to the point of rebellion and retaliation against all who would joy in a reprobate mindset and life style. As it was in the days of Noah !! A breaking point !!
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or     
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    For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the Sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. ( Romans 13:3,4 ) Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. for there is no power but of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. ( Romans 13: 1,2. ) KJB is not a version, but is the word of God !
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or     
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    Robert, what rights of both sides am I missing? What equality did I not address?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/02/obama-administration-and-un-announce-global-police-force-to-fight-extremism-in-u-s/
     -- montana     
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    I believe the arguments are better framed in the context of 'power' rather than 'rights.'

    The power (i.e. ability) to defend oneself against a predator determines one's place in the food chain -- the human species holding the top. Among humankind are also those with dominant personalities and others submissive -- and every combination in between. Human societies have 'evolved' into a myriad of hierarchies. It all comes down to the power of the person.

    What can that person do? Should he be allowed to? Who says? How a society answers those questions determines the organizing principals. Is there someone in the society that has the power to command others? If so, where does the power to command others come from?

    The answers to that address gun control, alcohol control, drug control, media control, transportation control, economy control, health care control, education control -- ultimately total control.

    Those for gun control are for the compelled transfer of personal power to police who follow the orders of the State.

    Those for drug control are for the compelled transfer of personal power to pharmaceutical companies who benefit from the dictates of the State often creating huge monopolies.

    I could go on with all the other forms of control, the point being that it is a question of Statism vs. Personal Responsibility. With great power comes great responsibility. Do we transfer that responsibility to the State or keep it in our own hands?

    Know that Statism unchecked becomes Totalitarian -- whether fascist, communist, monarchy -- the quest for power of the State never ceases.

    Liberty means to be personally responsible for the exercise of one's power. That is supposed to be the American Way.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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