Category Archives: Democracy

The evils of democracy and the mob: Quotes from some of the greatest minds in history.

Fisher Ames: “A democracy is a volcano, which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption, and carry desolation in their way.”

John Jay: “Pure democracy, like pure rum, easily produces intoxication, and with it a thousand mad pranks and fooleries.”

Lord Acton: “The one prevailing evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”

George Washington: “It is one of the evils of democratical governments, that the people, not always seeing and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act.”

Alexander Hamilton: “If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy.”

Alexander Hamilton: “Real liberty is neither found in despotism, nor in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”

James Madison: “Where a majority are united by a common sentiment, and have an opportunity, the rights of the minor party become insecure.”

James Madison: “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

Alexis de Tocqueville: “The will of the nation is one of those phrases most widely abused by schemers and tyrants of all ages.”

Cicero: “No tempest or conflagration, however great, is harder to quell than mob carried away by the novelty of power.”

Cicero: “This excessive licence, which the anarchists think is the only true freedom, provides the stock, as it were, from which a tyrant grows.”

Plato: “Is it not the excess and greed of this and the neglect of all other things that revolutionizes this constitution too and prepares the way for the necessity of a dictatorship?”

Plato: “And is it not true that in like manner a leader of the people who, getting control of a docile mob, does not withhold his hand from the shedding of tribal blood, but by the customary unjust accusations brings a citizen into court and assassinates him, blotting out a human life, and with unhallowed tongue and lips that have tasted kindred blood, banishes and slays and hints at the abolition of debts and the partition of lands.”

Plato: “And a democracy, I suppose, comes into being when the poor, winning the victory, put to death some of the other party, drive out others, and grant the rest of the citizens an equal share in both citizenship and offices.”

Plato called democracy “a delightful form of government, anarchic and motley, assigning a kind of equality indiscriminately to equals and unequals alike!”

Polybius: “And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.”

Census data favors liberty, capitalism, and small government

Michael Barone’s analysis of the 2010 census data is worth reading. His conclusion:

The states, said Justice Brandeis, are laboratories of reform. The 2010 Census tells us whose experiment worked best. It’s the state with the same name as the county that’s the center of the nation’s population: Texas.

But it’s not just Texas:

  • The eight states with no state income tax grew 18 percent in the last decade. The other states (including the District of Columbia) grew just 8 percent.
  • The 22 states with right-to-work laws grew 15 percent in the last decade. The other states grew just 6 percent.
  • The 16 states where collective bargaining with public employees is not required grew 15 percent in the last decade. The other states grew 7 percent.

People naturally move to states where the economies are good, jobs are plentiful, and the cost of living tends to be lower. States with low taxes and workers rights (the opposite of union rights) provide the environment people want. If states like New York, California, and Illinois want to balance their budget and avoid bankruptcy, raising taxes only drives people away and makes the situation worse. It’s time for states and the federal government to open their eyes.

Anarchists take over London. Democratic-socialism is the goal. Plato warned us about this.

London is literally aflame, or parts of it are, as the ‘anarchists’ run amok.

I put ‘anarchists’ in quotes because they are not really anarchists. They are socialists who are using Great Britain’s democratic system in an attempt to impose their undemocratic ideology (i.e. higher taxes and more government spending) upon the rest of the country.

Which reminds me of how Plato described democracy:

“A delightful form of government, anarchic and motley, assigning a kind of equality indiscriminately to equals and unequals alike!” [Plato, Republic 558c.]

We don’t want democracy in Egypt! We want republicanism.

Now that Hosni Mubarak has stepped down, the media, analysts, politicians, and just about everybody else is calling for democracy in Egypt. For example:

I believe these calls for democracy are made out of ignorance of the word’s real meaning. While we want a democratic system over there, we don’t want true democracy. Alexander Hamilton said at the Constitutional Convention:

“We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is neither found in despotism, nor in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”

Here are some more quotes about the evils of democracy:

“Now the first of these to come into being is monarchy, its growth being natural and unaided; and next arises kingship derived from monarchy by the aid of art and by the correction of defects. Monarchy first changes into its vicious allied form, tyranny; and next, the abolishment of both gives birth to aristocracy. Aristocracy by its very nature degenerates into oligarchy; and when the commons inflamed by anger take vengeance on this government for its unjust rule, democracy comes into being; and in due course the licence and lawlessness of this form of government produces mob-rule to complete the series.” [Polybius, The Histories 6.4.7-13.]

“And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.”[Polybius, The Histories 6.9.7-9.]

“And a democracy, I suppose, comes into being when the poor, winning the victory, put to death some of the other party, drive out others, and grant the rest of the citizens an equal share in both citizenship and offices.”[Plato, Republic 557a.]

“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” [James Madison, Federalist No. 10.]

“I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.” [John Adams letter to John Taylor, 1814]

“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.” [Lord Acton]

I for one shall hope that Egypt forms a republican and moderate government, just as Alexander Hamilton recommended for our own country more than 220 years ago.

Ballot propositions: The voice of the people or the tyranny of the majority?

When I moved to Phoenix in 1986, the sales tax was 6.7%. Today it stands at 9.3%. How have we let our state legislature, county, and city councils raise our taxes so? Well, actually, they didn’t. We did! Correct me if I’m wrong, but every sales tax increase in Arizona, Maricopa County, and Phoenix, except the recent food tax, has been approved by us at the ballot box.

That’s democracy for you. Aristotle, Polybius, and the Founding Fathers all warned about the evils of democracy. Tocqueville called it the tyranny of the majority. In our case, the majority votes to raise taxes, collected mostly from the rich, to distribute as gifts among themselves.

But hey! We are doing it for the kids. We are doing it because we need more cops and firefighters to protect us. Spending ever-increasing amounts of money on schools, most of which goes to bureaucrats, is not “spending” but an “investment.” An investment in the future.

Just about every year we have tax increases on the ballot. Some fail, but some pass. The result is steadily rising taxes. But when we voted to raise taxes for more police and fire, Phoenix announced cutbacks just a few months later. Taxes rose while the number of police and fire remained largely unchanged. It was all a big shell game. A trick to raise our taxes.

So why do we fall for it time after time? More than 2000 years ago, Polybius wrote that the people become “accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others.” We just can’t help ourselves. If we didn’t receive our free schools for the kids, our free police and fire services, our cheap public transportation, our welfare, our unemployment, and our food stamps, we’d all suffer the consequences.

Most of you may find this a shock, but I hate democracy. I hate referendum and initiative. Politicians use it to skirt responsibility, saying that they weren’t the ones who raised taxes. Public unions use it to push for bigger government.

Our Founders knew the evils of democracy. Democracy had its place in American cities of the 1700s, at a very small local level, but the Founders knew that it could not work for large numbers of people. It only worked in small communities where just about everybody knew everybody else. The largest American city back then had just 100,000 people or so. Phoenix with well over a million people, Maricopa County with three million people or so, and Arizona with six million or more are just too large for democracy. That’s why the Founders made the US a republic. Except possibly for small communities, all our governments should be republics.

Democracy is based on majority rule. Republics are based on rule of law. I prefer the protection of stable and well-known laws than the whims of the public. The public’s job is not to vote for higher taxes or more “free gifts” either. As Jefferson said, the people are the “ultimate, guardians of their own liberty.” That is our job. To protect our liberty. Protect our liberty from foreign invasion. Protect it from our government. Protect it from each other.

So what is the true purpose of ballot propositions? Are they to defend our liberty? Sure doesn’t seem that way. Or are they designed to trick us and grow government? Based on our history, it sure seems that way.