„That's the difference between governments and individuals. Governments don't care, individuals do.“

Source: A Tramp Abroad

Last update June 3, 2021. History
Mark Twain photo
Mark Twain635
American author and humorist 1835 - 1910

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Gerald Ford photo

„We must introduce a new balance in the relationship between the individual and the government — a balance that favors greater individual freedom and self-reliance.“

—  Gerald Ford American politician, 38th President of the United States (in office from 1974 to 1977) 1913 - 2006

1970s, State of the Union Address (1975)

Benito Juárez photo

„May the people and the government respect the rights of all. Between individuals, as between nations, peace means respect for the rights of others.“

—  Benito Juárez President of Mexico during XIX century 1806 - 1872

As quoted in Global History, Volume Two : The Industrial Revolution to the Age of Globalization (2008) by Jerry Weiner, Mark Willner, George A. Hero and Bonnie-Anne Briggs, p. 175
Context: Mexicans: let us now pledge all our efforts to obtain and consolidate the benefits of peace. Under its auspices, the protection of the laws and of the authorities will be sufficient for all the inhabitants of the Republic. May the people and the government respect the rights of all. Between individuals, as between nations, peace means respect for the rights of others.

H.L. Mencken photo

„No government as such is ever in favor of the freedom of the individual.“

—  H.L. Mencken American journalist and writer 1880 - 1956

197
1940s–present
Context: Government, like any other organism, refuses to acquiesce in its own extinction. This refusal, of course, involves the resistance to any effort to diminish its powers and prerogatives. There has been no organized effort to keep government down since Jefferson's day. Ever since then the American people have been bolstering up its powers and giving it more and more jurisdiction over their affairs. They pay for that folly in increased taxes and diminished liberties. No government as such is ever in favor of the freedom of the individual. It invariably seeks to limit that freedom, if not by overt denial, then by seeking constantly to widen its own functions.

„In this country, the number of individuals on the government payroll certainly underestimates the importance of government.“

—  Harvey S. Rosen American economist 1949

Source: Public Finance - International Edition - Sixth Edition, Chapter 1, Introduction, p. 10

Benjamin Ricketson Tucker photo

„If the individual has a right to govern himself, all external government is tyranny.“

—  Benjamin Ricketson Tucker American journalist and anarchist 1854 - 1939

¶ 28
State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree, and Wherin They Differ (1888)
Context: If the individual has a right to govern himself, all external government is tyranny. Hence the necessity of abolishing the State.

Marshall McLuhan photo

„Print created national uniformity and government centralism, but also individualism and opposition to government as such.“

—  Marshall McLuhan Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar-- a professor of English literature, a literary critic, and a communicatio… 1911 - 1980

Source: 1960s, The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), p. 267

Gerald Ford photo

„The Declaration was not a protest against government but against the excesses of government. It prescribed the proper role of government to secure the rights of individuals and to effect their safety and their happiness. In modern society, no individual can do this all alone, so government is not necessarily evil but a necessary good.“

—  Gerald Ford American politician, 38th President of the United States (in office from 1974 to 1977) 1913 - 2006

On the United States Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution at the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (4 July 1976)
1970s
Context: The Declaration was not a protest against government but against the excesses of government. It prescribed the proper role of government to secure the rights of individuals and to effect their safety and their happiness. In modern society, no individual can do this all alone, so government is not necessarily evil but a necessary good.
The framers of the Constitution feared a central government that was too strong, as many Americans rightly do today. The framers of the Constitution, after their experience under the Articles, feared a central government that was too weak, as many Americans rightly do today. They spent days studying all of the contemporary governments of Europe and concluded with Dr. Franklin that all contained the seeds of their own destruction. So the framers built something new, drawing upon their English traditions, on the Roman Republic, on the uniquely American institution of the town meeting.

Sandra Day O'Connor photo
Albert Jay Nock photo

„It may now be easily seen how great the difference is between the institution of government, as understood by Paine and the Declaration of Independence, and the institution of the State. … The nature and intention of government … are social. Based on the idea of natural rights, government secures those rights to the individual by strictly negative intervention, making justice costless and easy of access; and beyond that it does not go.“

—  Albert Jay Nock American journalist 1870 - 1945

Source: Our Enemy, the State (1935), p. 49
Context: It may now be easily seen how great the difference is between the institution of government, as understood by Paine and the Declaration of Independence, and the institution of the State. … The nature and intention of government … are social. Based on the idea of natural rights, government secures those rights to the individual by strictly negative intervention, making justice costless and easy of access; and beyond that it does not go. The State, on the other hand, both in its genesis and by its primary intention, is purely anti-social. It is not based on the idea of natural rights, but on the idea that the individual has no rights except those that the State may provisionally grant him. It has always made justice costly and difficult of access, and has invariably held itself above justice and common morality whenever it could advantage itself by so doing.

Dominic Cadbury photo
Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

„The Founders conceived government as the servant, not the master of the individual.“

—  Dwight D. Eisenhower American general and politician, 34th president of the United States (in office from 1953 to 1961) 1890 - 1969

Remarks to the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/education/bsa/citizenship_merit_badge/speeches/address_convention_hall.pdf (31 January 1962)
1960s

Abraham Lincoln photo

„The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves - in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.“

—  Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States 1809 - 1865

Fragment on Government http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln2/1:261?rgn=div1;view=fulltext (1 July 1854?) in "The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln", ed. Roy P. Basler, Vol. 2, pp. 220-221
1850s
Context: The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves - in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. The desirable things which the individuals of a people can not do, or can not well do, for themselves, fall into two classes: those which have relation to wrongs, and those which have not. Each of these branch off into an infinite variety of subdivisions. The first - that in relation to wrongs - embraces all crimes, misdemeanors, and nonperformance of contracts. The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself. From this it appears that if all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need for government.

William H. Rehnquist photo

„The role of the Supreme Court is to uphold those claims of individual liberty that it finds are well-founded in the Constitution, and to reject other claims against the government that it concludes are not well-founded. Its role is no more to exclusively uphold the claims of the individual than it is to exclusively uphold the claims of the government: It must hold the constitutional balance true between these claims.“

—  William H. Rehnquist Chief Justice of the United States 1924 - 2005

The Supreme Court: How it Was, How it Is (1987).
Books, articles, and speeches
Context: An oft-heard description of the Supreme Court is that it is the ultimate protector in our society of the liberties of the individual. This phrase describes an important role of the Supreme Court, but by ignoring other equally important functions of the Court, it has a potential for mischief. It is a fairly short leap from this language to a feeling that the US Constitution is somehow "vindicated" every time a claim of individual right against government is upheld, and is not vindicated whenever such a claim is not upheld. But this, of course, cannot be the case. The role of the Supreme Court is to uphold those claims of individual liberty that it finds are well-founded in the Constitution, and to reject other claims against the government that it concludes are not well-founded. Its role is no more to exclusively uphold the claims of the individual than it is to exclusively uphold the claims of the government: It must hold the constitutional balance true between these claims.

David Mamet photo
P. D. James photo
Anselme Bellegarrigue photo

„Who says anarchy, says negation of government;
Who says negation of government, says affirmation of the people;
Who says affirmation of the people, says individual liberty;
Who says individual liberty, says sovereignty of each“

—  Anselme Bellegarrigue, book Anarchist Manifesto

Anarchist Manifesto (1850)
Context: Indeed:
Who says anarchy, says negation of government;
Who says negation of government, says affirmation of the people;
Who says affirmation of the people, says individual liberty;
Who says individual liberty, says sovereignty of each;
Who says sovereignty of each, says equality;
Who says equality, says solidarity or fraternity;
Who says fraternity, says social order;
By contrast:
Who says government, says negation of the people;
Who says negation of the people, says affirmation of political authority;
Who says affirmation of political authority, says individual dependency;
Who says individual dependency, says class supremacy;
Who says class supremacy, says inequality;
Who says inequality, says antagonism;
Who says antagonism, says civil war;
From which it follows that who says government, says civil war.

Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse photo

„Government must keep the ring, and leave it for individuals to play the game.“

—  Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse British sociologist 1864 - 1929

Source: Liberalism (1911), Chapter III, The Movement Of Theory, p. 34 .

John Hospers photo

„The greater the hold of government upon the life of the individual citizen, the greater the risk of war.“

—  John Hospers American philosopher and politician 1918 - 2011

Source: Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow, (1971), p. 411-412

Theodore Roosevelt photo

„A healthy republican government must rest upon individuals, not upon classes or sections.“

—  Theodore Roosevelt American politician, 26th president of the United States 1858 - 1919

1900s, A Square Deal (1903)
Context: The failure in public and in private life thus to treat each man on his own merits, the recognition of this government as being either for the poor as such or for the rich as such, would prove fatal to our Republic, as such failure and such recognition have always proved fatal in the past to other republics. A healthy republican government must rest upon individuals, not upon classes or sections. As soon as it becomes government by a class or by a section, it departs from the old American ideal.

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