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Robert Higgs quotes Showing 1-21 of 21

“Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.

In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.”
Robert Higgs
“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am -- not stuck in the middle, but hovering above the entire farcical spectrum, weeping as I behold my fellow man's devotion to political illusion and self-destruction.”
Robert Higgs
“What makes anyone think that government officials are even trying to protect us? A government is not analogous to a hired security guard. Governments do not come into existence as social service organizations or as private firms seeking to please consumers in a competitive market. Instead, they are born in conquest and nourished by plunder. They are, in short, well-armed gangs intent on organized crime. Yes, rulers have sometimes come to recognize the prudence of protecting the herd they are milking and even of improving its ‘infrastructure’ until the day they decide to slaughter the young bulls, but the idea that government officials seek to promote my interests or yours is little more than propaganda—unless, of course, you happen to belong to the class of privileged tax eaters who give significant support to the government and therefore receive in return a share of the loot.”
Robert Higgs
“Voting, the be all and end all of modern democratic politicians, has become a farce, if indeed it was ever anything else. By voting, the people decide only which of the oligarchs preselected for them as viable candidates will wield the whip used to flog them and will command the legion of willing accomplices and anointed lickspittles who perpetrate the countless violations of the people’s natural rights. Meanwhile, the masters soothe the masses by assuring them night and day that they — the plundered and bullied multitudes who compose the electorate — are themselves the government.”
Robert Higgs
“In regard to the so-called social contract, I have often had occasion to protest that I haven't even seen the contract, much less been asked to consent to it. A valid contract requires voluntary offer, acceptance, and consideration. I've never received an offer from my rulers, so I certainly have not accepted one; and rather than consideration, I have received nothing but contempt from the rulers, who, notwithstanding the absence of any agreement, have indubitably threatened me with grave harm in the event that I fail to comply with their edicts.”
Robert Higgs
“In the natural sciences, some checks exist on the prolonged acceptance of nutty ideas, which do not hold up well under experimental and observational tests and cannot readily be shown to give rise to useful working technologies. But in economics and the other social studies, nutty ideas may hang around for centuries. Today, leading presidential candidates and tens of millions of voters in the USA embrace ideas that might have been drawn from a 17th-century book on the theory and practice of mercantilism, and multitudes of politicians and ordinary people espouse notions that Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and others exploded more than two centuries ago. In these realms, nearly everyone simply believes whatever he feels good about believing.”
Robert Higgs
“We know how the people of Argentina ruined their country. We know how the people of Venezuela ruined their country. Few Americans know much about the history of Argentina or Venezuela. But if they wish to know how the people of the USA are ruining their own country, all they have to do is look around themselves, including, in most cases, looking in the mirror.”
Robert Higgs
“Income inequality has no necessary connection with poverty, the lack of material resources for a decent life, such as adequate food, shelter, and clothing. A society with great income inequality may have no poor people, and a society with no income inequality may have nothing but poor people.”
Robert Higgs
“H. L. Mencken famously said that “every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.” By now, however, I am no longer ashamed, because I do not identify with the government under which I live. Rather, I view it as a criminal organization that without provocation has chosen to make war on my just rights—not only mine, of course, but everyone's. Although this vile enterprise is my problem, because it robs and bullies me relentlessly and without mercy, it is not my responsibility: the nail is not the hammer.”
Robert Higgs, Neither Liberty nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government
“Nearly all libertarians were once conservatives or progressives or independent statists of some stripe. But scarcely any conservatives, progressives, or independent statists were once libertarians. This asymmetry in the direction of ideological migration is interesting and perhaps informative.”
Robert Higgs
“Government as we now know it in the USA and other economically advanced countries is so manifestly horrifying, so corrupt, counterproductive, and outright vicious, that one might well wonder how it continues to enjoy so much popular legitimacy and to be perceived so widely as not only tolerable but indispensable. The answer, in overwhelming part, may be reduced to a two-part formula: bribes and bamboozlement (classically "bread and circuses"). Under the former rubric falls the vast array of government "benefits" and goodies of all sorts, from corporate subsidies and privileges to professional grants and contracts to welfare payments and health care for low-income people and other members of the lumpenproletariat. Under the latter rubric fall such measures as the government schools, the government's lapdog news media, and the government's collaboration with the producers of professional sporting events and Hollywood films. Seen as a semi-integrated whole, these measures give current governments a strong hold on the public's allegiance and instill in the masses and the elites alike a deep fear of anything that seriously threatens the status quo.”
Robert Higgs
“Every year, on Veterans Day, orators declare that our leaders have gone to war to preserve our freedoms and have done so with glorious success, but the truth is just the opposite. In ways big and small, direct and indirect, crude and subtle, war—the quintessential government activity—has been the mother's milk for the nourishment of a growing tyranny in this country, and it remains so today.”
Robert Higgs, Neither Liberty nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government
“It is a sound interpretive rule...that anything that cannot be accomplished except with the aid of threats or the actual exercise of violence against unoffending persons cannot be beneficial to one and all.”
Robert Higgs
“The government enforces a monopoly over the production and distribution of its alleged 'services' and brings violence to bear against would-be competitors. In so doing, it reveals the fraud at the heart of its impudent claims and gives sufficient proof that it is not a genuine protector, but a mere protection racket.”
Robert Higgs
“People and their values are almost infinitely diverse, and people will never agree on many elements of social arrangements that might be subjected to uniform rules of governance. Hence, the greater the scope of strictly individual self-determination, the lesser the scope of governance, and the greater the tolerance with which people live and let live among their fellows, the more peaceful and flourishing society will be”
Robert Higgs
“As Herbert Stein commented in the 1980s, after having observed the process at close quarters for nearly half a century, businessmen “had learned to live with and accept most of the regulations.” Disturbed only by new and unfamiliar regulations, “they regard the regulations they are used to as being freedom” (1984, 84).”
Robert Higgs, Neither Liberty nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government
“General George C. Marshall's words, making “sacrifices today in order that we may enjoy security and peace tomorrow” (qtd. in Neumann 1953, 549).9 The claim was either a mistake or a lie, however, because the U.S. government did not need to go to war, not even in the world wars, to preserve its people's essential liberties and their way of life. Neither Kaiser Wilhelm's forces nor Hitler's—and certainly not Japan's—had the capacity to deprive Americans of their liberties, to “take over the country,” to “destroy our way of life,” or to do anything of the sort. This country has always contained persecuted minorities, and it still does, but since 1789 the only government on earth that has had the power to crush the American people's liberties across the board has been the government of the United States. U.S. participation in World War I was”
Robert Higgs, Neither Liberty nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government
“Like all who inherit the Lockean tradition, Mises believed that a strong but limited government, far from suffocating its citizens, allows them to be productive and free.”
Robert Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government
“When the contentious questions are mainly economic (put aside such inflammatory but mainly noneconomic matters as capital punishment or abortion) they tend to fall into two grand classes: one relates to the maintenance of the essential character of the economic order (often, capitalism versus socialism); the other has to do with distributional conflicts within the economic order (often, the rich versus the poor). The two grand classes of issues share a common capacity to call forth moral, as opposed to instrumental, considerations. They involve not simply questions of what is technically better or worse; rather, they are seen to involve good and evil.32 Those who propose to deal “pragmatically” with such questions are doomed to fail—”
Robert Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government
“If the man in the street remembers anything about Herbert Hoover it is that his middle name was Laissez-Faire and he did nothing while the American economy went to rack and ruin. As usual the knowledge of the man in the street leaves something to be desired. The popular remembrance of Hoover's quiescence in the face of the depression is a myth. The Great Engineer may have had his faults, but fiddling while the economy burned was not one of them. “Do nothing” was never his motto; his middle name was actually Clark.”
Robert Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government


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