Words by which to govern …

Words by which to govern …

As the new year fast approaches, many at several levels of government are preparing to ascend to their newly elected or appointed positions. We commend for their rapt attention — and all those already in positions of government power — a few wise words from a few wise individuals from the annals of history:

Reminded Aristotle:

“It is best that laws should be so constructed as to leave as little as possible to the decision of those who judge.”

Additionally, “The law is reason free of passion,” he noted.

From Tacitus:

“The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”

He also offered that “Liberties and masters are not easily combined.”

From an English proverb traced to Chaucer:

“Lawmakers ought not to be law-breakers.”

From 1 Corinthians XIV, 8:

“If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”

From Byron:

“When we think we lead we most are led.”

From Benjamin Franklin:

“(He) was so learned that he could name a horse in nine languages. So ignorant that he bought a cow to ride on.”

From Thomas B. Reed:

“One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation.”

From H.G. Bohn:

“One man’s fault is another man’s lesson.”

From Shakespeare:

“He will lie, sir, with such volubility that you would think truth were a fool.”

From Arthur Schopenhauer:

“If you have reason to suspect that a person is telling you a lie, look as though you believe every word he said. This will give him courage to go on; he will become more vehement in his assertions and, in the end, betray himself.”

From an editorial in The Sun of Baltimore:

“A liberal is one who believes in more laws and more [government] jobholders, therefore in higher taxes and less liberty.”

From Thomas Jefferson:

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

He also asked if “uniformity of opinion” was “desirable.” Answered Jefferson: “No more than that of face and stature.”

From Gerrit Smith:

“I do not subscribe to the doctrine that the people are the slaves and property of their government. I believe that government is for the use of the people, and not the people for the use of the government.”

Again, some wise words to consider for those about to do, and already doing, the people’s business.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).