Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on August 22, 2011

in Civil Society, Crime, Law

… is from page 69 of The Impossible H. L. Mencken (Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, ed., 1991); it originally appeared in Mencken’s 1935 Baltimore Evening Sun essay entitled “The Constitution”:

Every right that anyone has today is based on the doctrine that government is a creature of limited powers, and that the men constituting it become criminals if they venture to exceed those powers.

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{ 16 comments }

Kirby August 22, 2011 at 9:03 am

Sadly, no politician will lobby for Limited Gov’t except some select few. No block of voters will choose limited gov’t, except some select few. Politics is the name of the game, and anything that detracts from it will be put to death.

Chucklehead August 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm

“A good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”- H L Mencken

juan carlos vera August 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Then, democracy is a pseudo-institution used for fraud, and elections are pseudo-competitive scheme among thieves…

vidyohs August 22, 2011 at 9:43 am

“that the men constituting it become criminals if they venture to exceed those powers.”

Congressmen do not have to exceed the Constitutional limitations in order to do the things they do, things that we may consider moral crimes, yet are still legal.

It is not illegal to interpret the words “general welfare” to mean cradling every single citizen in birth to death security and comfort. It is a moral crime to steal money from the productive to provide that security and comfort; but the Constitution gives Congress the power to tax, which makes taxation and redistribution of money perfectly legal.

Finally, it is exceedingly difficult to pin the label of criminal on Congress when they have Art 1, Sec 5, para 2, 1st phrase, “Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings”, to make it perfectly legal for every Congressman to engage in insider trading (even share the info with family and friends) and profit immensely from the gifts and information they are offered by the many lobbyist who are seeking their favor. Clearly even the dullest among us out here can see that it is necessary for the proceedings of each house for the congressmen to generate wealth from their power. Can’t you see that necessity? It is legal, a moral crime yes, but legal and who can even charge them in court with a legal crime? No one.

Use that Art 1, Sec 5, para 2, !st phrase power to form committees and completely subvert, negate, the concept of equal representation; hey, that is a moral crime against the people, but it is legal.

What comfort, goodies, and wealth is not necessary to the proceeding of each house? Only use your imagination and you see why government runs amok. Who among us would go to Congress and resist temptation? Probably very few, if any.

Invisible Backhand August 22, 2011 at 10:53 am

Clearly even the dullest among us out here can see that it is necessary for the proceedings of each house for the congressmen to generate wealth from their power. Can’t you see that necessity?

Clearly you can’t see you are a nutter.

Ken August 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Really? Understanding just how stupid it is to have the houses write the rules that govern themselves gets you labelled as a “nutter”. How about we ask the thieves to write the rules governing theft? How about we ask the murderers to write the rules governing murder? Sounds grand doesn’t it?

There’s no way that could back fire. It’s not like senators or congressmen worked hand in hand with banks and mortgage lenders to meltdown the financial and housing market? The head of the Ways and Means committee wouldn’t violate the tax code and have nothing more happen to him than a slap on the wrist. The Speaker of the House would never be outraged at having to justify the constitutionality of a very unpopular dubious law with no consequences per the rules of the house.

But no, you’re right, anyone who says just how stupid it is to let the house and senate write their own governing rules must be a “nutter”. Amaright?

Regards,
Ken

Chucklehead August 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm

“Suppose 2/3 Congress were incinerated, what would we lose to offset our gain of their salaries and the salaries of their parasites?” -H L Mencken

vidyohs August 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Clearly a looney lefty tactic, this selective out of context quote, but since the entire is just above, who cares if you look like a fool….no wait, that you are a fool.

While you’re here, please tell JohnS why he is a simpleton for saying that it is just as unproductive to beat a team of dead horses as it is to beat one dead horse.

Give more insight into that void between your ears. :-)

Invisible Backhand August 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Did you notice your desperate pleading style at all?

Ken August 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Did you notice your own complete idiocy?

Regards,
Ken

vidyohs August 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm

DipStick, without Ken’s help, would you have noticed your own idiocy?

LOL! What is the socialist religions theory or plan to explain why beating a team of dead horses is productive where beating one dead horse is not?

Fred August 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Who else would write the rules?

vidyohs August 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Fred, it is not the writing that is the problem, it is the automatic unsupervised, unaudited, and open ended nature of the authority to write those rules that is the problem.

Those rules should be submitted to public scrutiny, audit, and approval; as well as regularly re-subjected to that same process to keep congress from sneaking in new shit when we are busy making a living.

morganovich August 22, 2011 at 10:44 am

this is why our elected leaders always seek to expand the view of “rights” to give themselves more power.

thus we get unsupportable notions like “a right to healthcare”.

that cannot be a right.

you cannot have a right that you can’t have alone on a desert island.

you cannot have a right that requires others to do things for you.

your right to free speech requires me to do nothing. i don’t have to listen. i can walk away.

a right to healthcare is not like that.

it requires coercion, either of the doctor who must provide it, or of some taxpayer who must pay out of his pocket to fund it.

you cannot have a right that requires coercion of others.

if you can, then you can have a right to anything at all.

statists love to trot these out because they bolster government power and allow for goodies to be redistributed to constituents, but their logic is flawed.

can i have a right to congressmen mowing my lawn?

they would say no.

but how is that any different from a right to healthcare?

you may think healtcare is more important, but the mechanism is identical.

Chucklehead August 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

“The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.” – H L Mencken

Greg Webb August 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I love this quote! Now, let the prosecutions begin!

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