Past thoughts
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The current hot debate in France (May 2006): "Should you give people jobs for life immediately or should you wait for two years?"  Thousands are taking to the streets.

Sign in San Francisco swingers club: "No alcohol. No sleeping. No uproarious or loud laughter. Condoms obligatory.  Turn all cell phones off."

I have before me a paper entitled 'Problem Lifecycle Process'.  I asked the author which were the nouns and which the adjectives.  He didn't know what I meant.

"You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical -- in a positive sense -- in its approach to Africa since Kennedy."   

"Clinton was a good guy, but he did fuck all."

Bob Geldof.  May 2003


On the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA, some James Watson quotes:  

On sex - "I divide men into two classes, those who think about women 90 percent of the time, and those who think about them 99 percent of the time.  I'm a 99 percenter."

On environmental Luddites - "The Greens can go walk in the sea."

On fears about GM food at the time of the Monica Lewinsky affair - "The only person ever harmed by DNA was Bill Clinton."

"Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. Therefore, in a just society the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests."  John Rawls in A Theory of Justice.

"The world spends 40 times more for petroleum than for water and sanitation each year.  Oil is largely provided privately.   As usual public provision and under investment go hand in hand."  Click here for more  

"We will rather starve than get something toxic." Zambian President Levy Mwanamasa, referring to genetically modified maize.  

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist
Next they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Catholic
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me
Pastor Niemoeller

"A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar." HL Menken

"Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention."  Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

"We won't dispassionately investigate or rationally debate which drugs do what damage and whether or how much of that damage is the result of criminalisation. We'd rather work ourselves into a screaming fit of puritanism and then go home and take a pill. P. J. O'Rourke

"It is often easier for our children to obtain a gun than it is to find a good school." Joycelyn Elders

"Maybe that's because guns are sold at a profit, while schools are provided by the government."

David Boaz 

"You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong." Abraham Lincoln

Capitalism makes the world a better place for humans in every way.  You name an aspect of human life - under capitalism, it will be better.  

"There are people who think that plunder loses all its immorality as soon as it becomes legal. Personally, I cannot imagine a more alarming situation." Frederic Bastiat

The fundamental difference between private action and governmental action ... lies in the fact that a government holds a monopoly on the legal use of physical force. It has to hold such a monopoly, since it is the agent of restraining and combating the use of force; and for that very same reason, its actions have to be rigidly defined, delimited and circumscribed; no touch of whim or caprice should be permitted in its performance; it should be an impersonal robot, with the laws as its only motive power. If a society is to be free, its government has to be controlled.  Ayn Rand

Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them. HL Menken

"The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities... Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end." Lord Acton

"For the general prosperity, there cannot be too much facility given to the conveyance and exchange of all kinds of property, as it is by such means that capital of every species is likely to find its way into the hands of those, who will best employ it in increasing the productions of the country." David Ricardo Principles of Political Economy and Taxation

"The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups." Henry Hazlitt

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Capitalism undoubtedly has certain boils and blotches upon it, but has it as many as government? Has it as many as marriage? Has it as many as religion? I doubt it. It is the only basic institution of modern man that shows any genuine health and vigor. Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Julian Simon "is right and Paul Ehrlich is wrong. ... the world is progressing. . . Resources are becoming more abundant. I’d rather go into a grocery store today than to a king's banquet a hundred years ago." Bill Gates. Forbes magazine, Dec. 2, 1996.

"If you were to discover a rare bird on your property … you would fear economic devastation instead of thinking about great wealth. This system creates conflict and hardship instead of stewardship…. For too long we’ve been paying lawyers bills … instead of protecting species and fighting to bring them back from the brink of extinction."  Gale Norton US Secretary of the Interior 12.4.2001

Don’t take summer jobs while you’re still at school, unless you’ve exhausted every opportunity to borrow. It’s crazy to work when you’re young and unskilled; the same amount of effort a few years later will be far more rewarding. Spend your student years studying; if you learn something at age 16 instead of 26, you’ll have an additional 10 years of knowing it.  From Landsburg SE, Fair Play. The Free Press, New York 1997.

Alexander the Great asked the philosopher Diogenes whether he could do anything for him: "Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun." Try asking this of your government.

If you're not making mistakes, you're not taking enough risks. If you never fall off your bicycle, you're not having enough fun. If you never miss your plane, you're spending too much time at airports. Landsburg SE, Fair Play. The Free Press, New York 1997.

Beware of people who tell you to eat natural foods because it's healthy. Have these people never heard of toadstools? The truth is that "natural" foods are derived from creatures who have survived natural selection, where it's an advantage to be deadly. "Artificial" foods are designed to survive in the marketplace, where it's an advantage to be nourishing. From Landsburg SE, Fair Play. The Free Press, New York 1997.

Advice to a child. "If you are ever in a position to sell water for £10 a gallon, charge £10 a gallon and not a penny less. Not so you will make a lot of money but to get that water to those who need it most desperately. It's your social responsibility. If you charge less than the market will bear then the wrong people will claim the water." Adapted from Landsburg SE, Fair Play. The Free Press, New York 1997.

The population density in Africa (26 people per km2) is less than half that of Europe (70 per km2) and the land potentially much more fertile. 


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Last modified: July 28, 2006