"There is surely no contradiction in saying
that a certain section of the community may be quite competent
to protect the persons and property of the rest,
yet quite unfit to direct our opinions,
or to superintend our private habits."
Thomas Babington Macaulay
(1800-1859) [Lord Macaulay] 1st Baron Macaulay, British historian
"Southey's Colloquies on Society" par. SC.61
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
The section of the community who are best at protecting persons and property are "the people" themselves. Government does a poor job defending us, as demonstrated on 9/11. Government is worse at directing our opinions and habits.
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
    I do agree with Joe insofar as my experience has let me know that 'police-ing' institutions, be it local authorities or national services, frequently, if not often, have their own ''administrative well being at the top of their list of priorities with their purported 'tasking' somewhere below that. There are clearly many exceptions to this 'norm' but sadly, unless there's overwhelming human tragedy at hand, too few in my opinion. The response to 9/11 by emergency services personnel was a time when 'tasking' was galvanized in an extraordinary, inspiring way. No one however, at that time, was concerned with directing anyone's 'opinions' or 'private habits'. That's a luxury reserved for times when there's nothing better to do.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
    If it weren't for the police and the armed forces, your sorry asses would be screaming for help, while you were being abused in half a dozen ways at once. But we don't want them to dictate our values.
     -- David L. Rosenthal , Hollywood     
    Interesting to note while the majority of Americans wanted no part of Obama care, we had it shoved down our throats anyway.
     -- jim k, Austin     
  • 1
    Ummmm, kinda sorta, almost
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    It is indeed a challenge to keep busy-bodies from overreach. And deciding who is 'competent' or 'unfit' is really where the danger is. It sounds all well and good. Ah, yes, to have a wise and benevolent ruler who holds the happiness and care of his people above all else. Don't count on it.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
     -- jim k, Austin      
     -- Mary, MI      
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