The Best Quotes From P.J. O’Rourke’s “Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages The B@stards.”

I’m a big fan of P.J. O’Rourke’s writing, my interview with him should be out Monday, and I really enjoyed his new book, Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages The B@stards. Here are the best quotes from his book, which I would certainly recommend that you buy,

Yet it was two consummate American politicians who supplied us with a model for the universal formulation of tolerance: “Mind your own business and keep your hands to yourself.” These may rightly be called the Bill and Hillary Clinton Rules. Hillary, mind your own business. Bill, keep your hands to yourself. — P.15

Happiness is hard to attain, harder to maintain, and hardest of all to recognize. Pick the time in your life you know you were happiest. You didn’t know you were happy at the time. — P.27

The free market is simply a measurement. The free market tells us what people are willing to pay for a given thing at a given moment. That’s all the free market does. The free market is a bathroom scale. We may not like what we see when we step on the bathroom scale, but we can’t pass a law making ourselves weigh 165. Liberals and leftists think we can. — p.36

I have a twelve-year-old daughter, Muffin. All I hear is, “It’s not fair! It’s not fair! It’s not fair!” I say to her, “Honey, you’re cute. That’s not fair. You’re smart. That’s not fair. You were born in the United States of America. That’s not fair. Darling, you had better get down on your knees and pray to God that things don’t start getting fair for you.” — P. 47-48.

The presidential “Birther,” the 9/11 “Truther,” the JFK assassination “Grassy Knoller,” and every other conspiracy buff is announcing aloud: “The world is so stupid that even I can understand it.” — P.49

Virtue is famously lonesome, and vice is pretty solitary for some of us, too. — P.51

George Santayana told us that when we ignore history we’re doomed to repeat it, and, if high school is anything to go by, the same is true for civics. — P.54

Some people cannot enjoy the benefits of freedom without assistance from their fellows. This may be a temporary condition, such as childhood and when I say I can drive home from the bar at 3 a.m. just fine. Or, due to infirmity or affliction, the condition may be permanent. Aid must be given. Assets must be redistributed. — P.55

Within a family the dictum of Marx is valid: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” But the family is not a good model for a political system. For one thing Marxism ceases to work when it is extended outside the family by even so much as the factor of one bum brother-in-law. — p.56

Power, freedom, and responsibility are the main features of our politics. We pay with our freedoms to relieve ourselves of our responsibilities, and this is how others get their power over us. — P.60

There are certain things we may reasonably demand of our political system, of course. But most of these things are negative rights. And often it’s the political system itself that’s violating those rights. The most sensible request we make of government is not “Do something!” but “Quit it!” — P.63

We have to be careful about giving power to people — for thier own sake, among every other reason. We won’t get our power back easily. And when we try to get our power back it isn’t pretty: Washington at Valley Forge, Paris during the Reign of Terror, the czar’s family at Yekaterinburg. — P.66-67

It is a source of wickedness to forget that the world does contain a fixed amount of resources, at any given moment. The amount of resources is infinitely expandable, but in order to expand it we have to spend the resources we have on something other than Joe Biden. — P.75

Natasha Altamirano of the National Taxpayers Union did some complicated mathematics and said, “By my reckoning, somewhere between 85 and 95 million households out of 115 million total have a smaller tax liability than the per capita spending burden.” — P.99

The message that the U.S. government sent to the broke banks and beggared financial institutions was: “Don’t you ever do this again or we’ll give you more money,” after which there was a flurry of government regulatory activity to make sure it was illegal to do “this” again. And the banks and financial institutions won’t do “this” again. They’ll do “that.” — P.122

In The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care Pipes notes that for a man born in the United States in 1900 there was an almost one in five chance of dying before his first birthday. Now a man has to live to be my age before the annual mortality rate is one in five, which is why I’m careful with things like stairs and go down to the wine celler only four times on any given evening. — P.135

We are, Pipes says, paying fourteen times as much for medical treatment as we were in 1950, but since then our life expectancy has increased by ten years. It’s not a spectacular bargain. Life expectancy in 1950 was sixty-eight and, by my calculation, for fourteen times as much money we should be living to age 952. — P.135

The survival rate, five years after diagnosis of breast cancer, is 83.9% in the United States and 69.7 percent in Britain. Americans are 35 percent more likely to survive colon cancer than the British. And the prostate cancer survival rate is 91.9 percent in the United States, 73.7 percent in France, and 51.1 percent in the UK. — P.136

There’s only one thing about a government proposal of this complexity that we can be sure of: it won’t work. No government proposal more complex than “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private” ever works, and that one hasn’t been working lately. — P.145

Gun ownership is crucial to the preservation of American freedoms. We may have to shoot Democrats. It happened in 1861 and it could happen again. Just kidding. Sort of. But there are other important arguments in favor of gun ownership. What with the economy being like it is, I call my .38 special “the Mastercard of the future.” — P.165

Nearly half of all Americans with a vote have used it in past elections, often with tragic results. — P.166

Do the posessors of money wield too much influence at the polls? They do at the mall, doubtless likewise in voting booths. Yet the telecommunications industry, comprising some of America’s richest corporations, is constantly pestered by government regulatory agencies while agriculture, making up 2.3 percent of GDP, is lavishly subsidized. Governent is so inefficient that it can’t even get bribe-taking right. — P.175

A hundred years ago when foreign aid was unthought of (except as tribute or a bribe) we were a respected and admired country. After a century of philathrophy, everyone hates our guts.” — P.187

We should always keep in mind, however, that the foremost task of foreign policy — be the policy ever so high-minded and altruistic — is to keep the scum of the earth at bay. — P.190

Truthfully, all causes are boring. They are a way of making yourself part of something bigger and more exciting, which guarantees that small, tedious selves are what a cause will attract. — P.211

Radicals have to work everything through de novo. Radicals have ideas about sin, law, and motherhood. And the more airy the ideas, the more the answer has to be pulled out of thin air. — P.218

There a joke in Arkansas about a candidate hustling votes in the country. The candidate asks a farmer how many children he has.

“I’ve got six sons,” the farmer says.

“And are they all good little Democrats?” the candidate asks?

“Well,” the farmer says, “five of ’em are. But my oldest boy, he got to readin’…” — P.222

Politicians are fine until they stick their noses into things they don’t understand, such as most things. — P.257

What’s bad for us is good for politicians. They line up to lick our wounds. They love it when we’re hurt. — P.258

In the 2,500-year history of democracy since ancient Athens, a few politicians have arisen who more or less could be trusted with great powers, up to a point, briefly, in times of dire crisis, sort of. Those were Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, and maybe somebody else but I can’t think of who. — P.261

We can desocialize some other aspects of government but there are limits. It’s hard to imagine the advantage of competing networks of private sewer pipes. — P.265

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