What are the wisest words ever uttered by an American president?
I’m not going to pretend to know the answer, but there are some options that are high on my list.
I like what Ronald Reagan said about the government’s view of the economy, a quote that I shared just a few days ago.
I also like what the Gipper said about big government during his inauguration in 1981.
Since I’ve asserted that Calvin Coolidge may be the best President of the 20th Century, it behooves me to point out what he said, as cited by Reagan, about shrinking government to save people.
Going back further in time, it’s hard to come up with better advice than these sage thoughts from Thomas Jefferson. And let’s not forget the principled words of Presidents Madison, Pierce, and Cleveland. Walter Williams has cited their impressive fealty to the Constitution, an approach that is in stark contrast to the behavior of today’s politicians.
Now let’s look at another option in our best-quote contest.
But, first, some background.
What is it that our statist friends want? At the risk of oversimplifying, they think the government should use redistribution to provide basic needs for everyone.
That certainly was the core message of FDR’s so-called second bill of rights.
And it’s certainly the prevailing mindset of most Europeans.
Well, there is a group of Americans – numbering above 2 million – who do have all their basic needs provided by government.
They get their housing from government. They get their food from government. They also get free health care from government. And their clothing as well. And don’t forget free utilities!
Who are these “lucky” folks? Well, these are the people locked up in America’s prisons. So, yes, their needs are provided by government, but the tradeoff is that they don’t have freedom.
And this brings us to a very good quote from General Dwight Eisenhower. Here’s part of what he said to students at Columbia University in 1949.
In these times when we hear so much of security, security, security for everything we do — when so many of us want to be sure that we shall never be cold, or hungry, or out in the rain, or have a leaky roof… I should think that the best example of it would be a man serving a lifetime in a federal prison.
And here’s an image I found online that captures the same spirit, though I confess I don’t know if Ike uttered these specific words (shockingly, not everything you find on the Internet is true!).
But since it echoes the same sentiment as his remarks in 1949, I figure it’s worth sharing.
Now let’s close with an amusing interpretation of Ike’s quote.
I’ve shared many jokes about our political masters. Here’s one that I got from my mother.
It’s about a possible new “Part G” for Medicare.
Medicare – Part G – Nursing Home Plan
Say you’re an older senior citizen and can no longer take care of yourself. The government says there’s no Nursing Home care available for you. So, what do you do? You opt for Part G. Our plan gives anyone 65 years or older a gun (Part G) and four bullets.
You are allowed to shoot four politicians. This means, of course, that
you’ll be sent to prison where you’ll receive three meals a day, a roof
over your head, central heating & air conditioning, cable TV, library,
and all the Health Care you need. Need new teeth? No problem. Need
glasses? That’s great. Need a hearing aid, new hip, knees, kidney,
lungs, sex change, or heart? They’re all covered.
As an added bonus, your kids can come and visit you at least as often
as they do now!
And, who will be paying for all of this? The same government that just
told you they can’t afford for you to go into a home. And….you can
get rid of 4 useless politicians while you’re at it. And now, because
you’re a prisoner, you don’t have to pay any more income taxes.
Is this a great country or what?
Now that we’ve solved your senior financial planning, enjoy your week.
Though I suppose I should add that this is just a joke and that no actual politicians were harmed in the writing of this post.
After all, there’s no need to shoot these scoundrels. As Instapundit periodically reminds us, tar and feathers are a much more appropriate punishment.
Daniel J. Mitchell is a leading expert on fiscal policy issues such as tax reform, the economic impact of government spending, and supply-side tax policy. Mitchell is a strong advocate of a flat tax and international tax competition. Prior to joining Cato, Mitchell was a senior fellow with The Heritage Foundation, and an economist for Senator Bob Packwood and the Senate Finance Committee. He also served on the 1988 Bush/Quayle transition team and was Director of Tax and Budget Policy for Citizens for a Sound Economy. His articles can be found in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily, and Washington Times. He is a frequent guest on radio and television and a popular speaker on the lecture circuit. Mitchell holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University.