James Bovard (born 1956) is a bestselling libertarian author and lecturer, whose political commentary targets examples of waste, failures, corruption, cronyism and abuses of power in government.
- Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
- Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (1994), p. 333
- Compare earlier version by Marvin Simkin, "Individual Rights", Los Angeles Times, 12 January 1992: "Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote."
- A democratic government that respects no limits on its power is a ticking time bomb, waiting to destroy the rights it was created to protect.
- America needs fewer laws, not more prisons. By trying to seize far more power than is necessary over American citizens, the federal government is destroying its own legitimacy. We face a choice not of anarchy or authoritarianism, but a choice of limited government or unlimited government.
- Lost Rights; The Destruction of American Liberty
From The Fair Trade Fraud (St. Martin's Press, 1991) Edit
- Government cannot make trade more fair by making it less free.
- “Fair trade” is a moral delusion that could be leading to an economic catastrophe.
- The U.S. government has created a trade lynch law that can convict foreign companies almost regardless of how they operate.
- It should not be a federal crime to charge low prices to American consumers.
From Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (St. Martin's Press, 1994) Edit
- A law is simply a reflection of the momentary perception of self-interest by a majority of a legislative body.
- The federal tax system is turning individuals into sharecroppers of their own lives.
From Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen (St. Martin's Press, 1999) Edit
- Paternalism is a desperate gamble that lying politicians will honestly care for those who fall under their power.
- The Night Watchman State has been replaced by Highway Robber States – governments in which no asset, no contract, no domain is safe from the fleeting whim of politicians.
- So much of political philosophy throughout history has consisted of concocting reasons why people have a duty to be tame animals in politicians’ cages.
- The surest effect of exalting government is to make it easier for some people to drag others down.
- The growth of government is like the spread of a dense jungle, and the average citizen can hack through less of it every year.
- Trusting government nowadays means dividing humanity into two classes: those who can be trusted with power to run other people’s lives, and those who cannot even be trusted to run their own lives.
From Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years (St. Martin's Press, 2000) Edit
- Clinton exploited and expanded the dictatorial potential of the U.S. presidency.
- For scores of millions of Americans, Clinton's "caring" was more important than his lying.
- The principle of government supremacy is Clinton's clearest legacy.
- The better that people understand what Clinton did in office, the greater the nation's chances for political recovery.
From Terrorism & Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave, 2003) Edit
- Nothing happened on 9/11 that made the federal government more trustworthy.
- The Patriot Act treats every citizen like a suspected terrorist and every federal agent like a proven angel.
- The worse government fails, the less privacy citizens supposedly deserve.
- There is no technological magic bullet that will make the government as smart as it is powerful.
- Killing foreigners is no substitute for protecting Americans.
- It is impossible to destroy all alleged enemies of freedom everywhere without also destroying freedom in the United States.
- A lie that is accepted by a sufficient number of ignorant voters becomes a political truth.
- Citizens should distrust politicians who distrust freedom.
- In the long run, people have more to fear from governments than from terrorists. Terrorists come and go, but power-hungry politicians will always be with us.
From The Bush Betrayal (Palgrave, 2004) Edit
- Truth is a lagging indicator in politics.
- The arrogance of power is the best hope for the survival of freedom.
- We need a constitutional amendment to make the federal government obey the Constitution.
- There are no harmless political lies about a war. The more such lies citizens tolerate, the more wars they will get.
- People have been taught to expect far more from government than from freedom.
From Attention Deficit Democracy (Palgrave, 2006) Edit
- Rather than a democracy, we increasingly have an elective dictatorship. People are merely permitted to choose who will violate the laws and the Constitution.
- Instead of revealing the “will of the people,” election results are often only a one-day snapshot of transient mass delusions.
- Bogus fears can produce real servitude.
- As long as rulers are above the law, citizens have the same type of freedom that slaves had on days when their masters chose not to beat them.
- Democracy unleashes the State in the name of the people.
- The more that democracy is assumed to be inevitable, the more likely it will self-destruct.
- Attention Deficit Democracy produces the attitudes, ignorance and arrogance that pave the way to political collapse.