"I want for our country enough laws to restrain me from injuring others,
so that these laws will also restrain others from injuring me.
I want enough government, with enough constitutional safeguards,
so that this necessary minimum of laws will be applied equitably
to everybody, and will be binding on the rulers as well as those ruled.
Beyond that I want neither laws nor government to be imposed on our people
as a means or with the excuse of protecting us from catching cold,
or of seeing that we raise the right kind of crops,
or of forcing us to live in the right kind of houses or neighborhoods,
or of compelling us to save money or to spend it,
or of telling us when or whether we can pray.
I do not want government or laws designed for
any other form of welfarism or paternalism,
based on the premise that government knows best
and can run our lives better than we can run them ourselves.
And my concept of freedom, and of its overwhelming importance,
is implicit in these aspirations and ideals."
by:
Robert Welch
(1899-1985) Author, Founder of the John Birch Society
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Bruno, Paris      
The more often we hear/read such complete common sense, the greater our appreciation of the great thinkers. However, with that knowledge comes the realization of how close we, as a country, are coming to complete Socialism
 -- Gary Bell, Jericho, Vermont     
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    And if you use your total freedom to destroy the environment and our children's future slowly, slowly without ever seeming to hurt anybody because these things take a looooong time, well then you can at least be proud of having destroyed our planet and the future of all mankind in freedom!
     -- Maggie, Hamburg     
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    This sentiment though not direct indirectly leads to fascism
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    Robert Welch was a crackpot who didn't understand that some people care only about their own selfish interests and to hell with everyone else. That's what happened in the South with regard to civil rights for Blacks. We needed govt to ensure that the rights of Black Americans were enforced over the objections of people like Bull Connor and members of the KKK. And, as Maggie said above, total freedom would give one person the "right" to destroy the environment at the expense of everyone else. Ptui!
     -- Lynn, Bozeman, MT     
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    I hear no prejudice in this quote. It is neither anti-environment nor fascist. I am sure that the same sentiment was shared by Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Franklin, and a host of others. The prejudice in the negative feedback above seems to be towards Welch himself rather than the words in this quote.
     -- Edmund Furd, Washington, DC     
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    We have had many histories of the kinds of government Welch describes. In every case the result was a tiny minority of wealthy, greedy, intolerant, and mean -spirited tyrants and a huge mass of overworked, starving, and hopeless people. Only when government went beyond the scope Welch would constrain have we had real freedom, democracy, universal education, the arts, health, and everything that good government provides.
     -- Dick Trice, Fort Worth, Texas     
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    This is the line that separates the individualists from the collectivists.
     -- Chicago     
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    Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society - oh yeah! Has it escaped notice that the John Birchers were the bunch who spawned people like John Schmitz, who ran as the presidential candidate for the American Independent Party in 1972? Schmitz, an ardent promoter of 'family values', was subsequently exposed for his long-term affair with a former student, and fathering her two children, thus ending his political career. BTW, Schmitz was the father of Mary Kay Letourneau who seems to have followed in her father's footsteps. John Birchers seem to have cornered the market when it comes to hypocrisy but let's not pay any attention to that, ok?
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    I agree with Welch's statement whole-heartedly. The John Birch Society and any of its members are irrelevant. It is hard to believe so many people fight so fiercely for their servitude.
     -- Silver Spring, MD     
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    I was in the John Birch Society...I even had the Blue Book! At our meetings we listened to Welch's pronouncements for a couple of hours (via recordings). The man's quotes were one thing but his behavior was something else. After sitting in on this stuff for about 2 months I left. Ugh!
     -- Alma Jurgensen, Stuart, Florida     
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    If there is a war between the haves and the have-nots--between those who fight to keep what they think they own and those who fight to grab what they think they need--freedom will be the first casualty. In its duty to protect individual freedom, government has a duty to preserve those things that make freedom possible, including a healthy environment and an end to the most blighted forms of economic deprivation.
     -- Doug Rees, Berkeley, CA     
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    Who wishes to destroy the environment if he does not profit from it? And can the people not deny him these profits through a boycott?
     -- Anonymous     
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    Those comments are good and the Birch Society gave me a peek at the real world , but consider this; fractional reserve banking is theft and Robert Welch wrote that fractional reserve is all right "if done by prudent and honest men" booklet, What Is Money,. The Birch Society parrots the lie that government spends money while the Fed tells the truth that their system "works only with credit." booklet. Keeping Our Money Healthy, Library of Congress Catalog Number 60-14368 Revised Jan, 1979. What the Birch Society and communists have in common is that neither group will tell the truths that taxes cannot be paid with paper, very few are subject to income tax and government has no need for tax money when all of us will risk our lives for strips of paper. NO branch of government spends money or pays anyone for anything, THEY WORK US ONLY WITH WEIGHTLESS CREDIT!!!
     -- Dave Wilber, St. Louis     
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    This site is filling up with statists. Dick writes:--"democracy, universal education, the arts, health, and everything that good government provides."-- Dick, these are not things that "good" government provides. These are things that a corrupt and socialistic government provides that has overstepped the bounds of the Constitution to take upon itself the authority to coerce morality and immorality alike. Government doesn't "provide" anything that it doesn't first take from the people. It is fallacy to assume that government somehow knows better than the individual how to run his life. Your philosophy has nothing to do with real freedom. It is diametrically opposed to it.
     -- Ben, Orem, UT     
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    The Quote is wise. The people who read it are jaded by their reality. The Quote is wise.
     -- Charles Lukens, Ventnor, NJ.     
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    "Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate for any other." (John Adams) A country that relies on enough of man's edicts to restrain injuring has already lost their freedom and liberty. My rights end at your nose and I act because I am, not because of some foreign entity's formalized reasoning. The entire premise of the above quote's concepts seem to be based on a government of overlords (zero conceptualization of the laws of nature and of nature's God) and, not an united administration by sovereign's servants. Though many of the expressed sentiments were good, the whole concept seems to be entirely based on the good graces of a benevolent foreign despot
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The quopte is substantially BS. Name a group, society or tribe that did not give forthought to its welfare concerning harvests, and secure food supply etcetera. From Joseph and the Egyptians and ever sense group policies conerning these things have existed. If Welch could be so wrong about something as simple as this why read any more of his dribble. As far as public health (catching cold and the like) man and his societies have been interested in this at least since the plague devastated half of the poplulation of Europe and maybe worse in Asia back in 1200 AD. Yea Welch was a major flake.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    It relates to the times
     -- Peter Bodoh, Neenah     
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    People are made selfish by too much government, too much taxation. They are trained to reject freedom...according to plan. The quote stands on its own. Freedom produces wealth and allows for generosity.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Taken as it stands, without the history of the JBS coloring it, the quote looks pretty good to me. I see nothing in it that makes it easier for someone to rape the environment or that would enable a small group of greed men to gain ascendency. And it is a good quote for another reason -- just look at the healthy discussion it has inspired here.
     -- TheMANwithNoName, Tampa, FL     
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    Crackpot or not, Robert Welch was telling everyone that Castro was a Communist when the New York Times was selling him as an agrarian reformer. In the 1950s I had occasion to meet a number of Cubans who escaped Castro. One was a college professor in Cuba at the time Fidel took over. I asked him to compare Fidel with Batista and he said this, that compared to Fidel, Batista was an angel. Naturally, all the liberals at that time were in love with Castro and they haven't changed much to this day.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    Our government doesn't serve to protect the environment or civil rights or anything else. It is an apparatus of control. It can either be an extension of our own self-control or it can be used to force the will of a few on a dumb and slothful populace. Our government started as the former and has morphed into the latter.
     -- Justin, Elkland     
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    And Lynn in Bozeman, your skewed view of history is clearly tainted by your own agenda. The federal government has only ever created and facilitated racism. The civil war and retaliatory policies undertaken by the fed thereafter directly led to the creation of organizations like the KKK. Today racist, sexist and protectionist "affirmative action" policies reignite old animosities and create new ones. Only we as individuals end racism when we refuse to allow ourselves to be divided and classified for our own selfish purposes. In summary, attempts to legislate equality invariably lead to inequality.
     -- Justin, Elkland     
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    It has always been about the control over the minds of men to harness the free spirit of man by channeling the power of it into false ideas that serve to make the many believe that exercising and exerting that individual power must be exercised the way the few tell them to through THEIR POWER (which is the individual's) to create law FORCING (free choice?) us to perform for only they know what is FOR OUR OWN GOOD in these troubled times. And this is all based on the false premise that we put them there for that purpose, to do things good for us when their real job was/is to uphold the natural rights (powers) of the individual protected by the Constitution according to the oath they took which would REALLY be good for us. Mike I agree! I am. Justin, exactly! All governments ABOVE men are means for control of the few over the many and as history has proved over and over again the few become corrupt with their power to the end result of enslaving the people the people for many propagated senseless reasons (by the few) let rule over their rights when they didn't before until the corrupt have enough power to FORCE the rule people ALLOWED to begin with. The two biggest lies in history are first there is no god and second because there is no god we need government of men over men.
     -- Anon     
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    I find the same sentiments expressed in "The writings of Thomas Jefferson".
     -- JimS, Sutherland     
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    Dick, Terry, and Mike, and yes, Waffler, said it for me (eccept for the God bit). Good to see you back Terry. The Birchers are coming out of the wood-work - lets be on our toes and have plenty of Terminix ready.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    How many of you giving thumbs down would have done so if it had been Kennedy or Jefferson that said it? I know nothing of the 'John Birchers' other than what other non-Birchers have said. The words stand for themselves, and they express my sentiments very well.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    This quote reflects the fundamental tenet of the Constitution of these United States and the Bill of rights, if you are offended by these words then the constitution and bill of rights has no relevance in your life.
     -- Anonymous, Glen St. Mary, FL     
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    I agree Archer, if the truth rings true it stands on its own and doesn't rely on whoever said it to support or hold it up in any way. That is the nature of truth.
     -- Anon     
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    It's the philosophy stupid! If we all had this political philosophy we would have none of what is going on today. The government would be in the black. Poverty would be at minimum and not a political football. The economy would have much more boom and much less bust. Freedom and liberty would be the solution not the problem like it is portrayed to be today. Real solutions to problems are found not because of what government controls but what it doesn’t. If you want the problem to get really bad sick the government on it.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    This is how most fascists come to power if that's the philosophy you want. I will not give this baffoon any stardom - in actual fact he should have been imprisoned for treason - but, that's another story.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Warren needs to study how the Japanese government promoted, advanced, and marketed its automobile industry through its MITI Agency and Japan, Inc. became the envy of the car industry. The Chineese are now doing the same thing with their fledgiling car industry as have the Koreans. We buy all of our stuff from these countries which are supported by their governments and bitch and complain when something is supported by ours. We have become a sick people. I read a quote today about the health care debate. The guy said if we want to learn how it should be done why don't just call our Canadian, French, German and other friends who apparently do it much better and cheaper than we do, and also ask them how to make cars better with government involvement.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Sorry, RBESRQ, but you have got it backwards. Fascism is the transformation of the State into 'The Corporation' in which we are all employees bound to the arbitrary will of the Executive. Read Welch's words sentence by sentence -- which sentence leads to fascism? I will not bother trying to convince Waffler that socialism either of the Leninist style or the Fabian style eventually ends up in Oppression. Liberty on the other hand keeps the responsibility in the individual's hands. The idea that there is no charity, no ingenuity, no innovation without government subsidy has no evidence in American history. And the argument that 'hey, the rest of the world is going socialist, why shouldn't we?' just goes to show the shallowness and ignorance of those professing it.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer as usual you miss all vaild points. We support soicalists and communist governments when we buy their products. We and maybe you if I may be so bold are hypocrites about this entire socialist argument. If you disdain "socialism" do you then go and buy products made in Communist China, or the government supported car industries of Japan and Korea. Do you buy French and German products where the companies pay much higher taxes to their governments which support a more broad based and "socialized" heatlh care system? I hazard a bet that you support what you claim to hate (that is socialism) all of the time!
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    The better question is why has the bulk of American manufacturing moved out of the States and into oppressed countries? How has America been transformed from the king of the Industrial Revolution to a bankrupt consumer of communist goods? What are all the trade laws for where the US refuses to allow the import of goods from Canada, for example, but allows goods from China produced by slaves and prisoners? It is no secret to many of us that America is being attacked from within, and the leftist policies of American politicians seem hell-bent on tearing down all that makes America unique from the socialist world. I will always try to buy goods made in the US when I can -- and they usually cost more, but the quality is better. Most of the stuff from China is crap anyway, but it makes a lot of money for a lot of people who do not care about the freedoms that we are losing, just as long as they can make a buck. The Chinese are now proposing that the US Treasury issue its bonds in Yuan if we want China to still buy T-Bills -- watch to see what happens! Hey, the #$% Democrats have been in bed with the Chinese for a long time, and have been actively working to turn America into a socialist state IN DEBT TO THE CHINESE!! Wake the $%^ up, man, we are being taken over by the reds from the inside -- and funny money and perpetual debt is a fundamental plank in the communist form of government.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Waffler as always you are clueless. The corporations in this country pay the highest or second highest taxes (depending on which state it is in) in the industrialized world. When you add to that the high cost of labor and benefits (in other countries the taxpayer picks up much of the benefit tab) along with the demonizing coming from the left, there is no incentive for a company to stay here.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Waffler you vote for socialism, or more accurately, progressivism every time you go to the polls.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    The Government is only an extension of who we really are. It is not a dictatorship, nor is it in anyway shape or form to become a "big daddy" taking care of his children. We the people are the Government as so stated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We tell the Government, the government doesn't tell us how to live, that is our inalienable right as Free People. It is time we stood up to these (people) and proclaimed our rights as human beings. This is our country not a few who think they know everything, they do not. Will we the people ever learn that this is our country and if we really want a country that is for the people in every way, we must speak out? Quit being a bunch of ninnies crying out. We have everything at our disposal if we will only get off of our lazy butts and do something productive, like creating the jobs we so desperately need, letting go of the big banks and corporations that have looted us to the point of almost no return, but there is a return and it is up to us to start to take charge. Yes there are some who want their diapers changed and hand fed, they will have to learn the hard way, so be it. As for the rest of us we can do it so stop believing all the lies and corruptions that have been lalid in place by our dictators, they will silently steal away to wherever. Doesn't matter where they go for we have the Power to do this together in honesty and straightforwardness, no more deceptions and above all no more wars, not necessary anymore.
     -- Jackie, Springfield     
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    If these comments of Robert Welch were offered as the entire content of a course on civics, it would be head and shoulders above most civics courses on civics on the planet. People who understand this quote should check out http://www.jbs.org to get what's going on today, and what can be done about it. Welch was a genius, and his organization is still the best thing going on the planet to stem the tide of collectivism.
     -- Cliff, Oakland     
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    Robert Welch was one of the most smeared men of the 20th Century. The Birch Society was also a victim of the Liberal-Left hate speech machine. Certainly, if James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine were here today, they would agree with and side with Welch and the idea of limiting government by constitutional and legal means, and they would strongly oppose today's Demokrat Party and its welfare-state fascistic/socialistic agenda. Democrats have contempt for the Constitution because it is an obstacle to their wielding of power by whim. Control freaks abhor fixed rules of the game that cannot easily be amended by whim. Government by whim is tyranny, whether the whim of a king, an oligarchy, or the majority of the moment. The framers knew this. Most Americans no longer understand that any more.
     -- Sam, Antelope Valley     
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