Alexis de Tocqueville Still on the Money

A reader posted an Alexis de Tocqueville quotation today in response to a post. It said:

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
– Alexis de Tocqueville

It reminded me of one of my favorite quotations I have long had in my book “Trend Following”:

“It may readily be conceived that if men passionately bent upon physical gratifications desire greatly, they are also easily discouraged; as their ultimate object is to enjoy, the means to reach that object must be prompt and easy or the trouble of acquiring the gratification would be greater than the gratification itself. Their prevailing frame of mind, then, is at once ardent and relaxed, violent and enervated. Death is often less dreaded by them than perseverance in continuous efforts to one end.
– Alexis de Tocqueville

Please tell me how that 2nd quotation is not one of the BEST explanations of how we got to the point of financial abyss?

2 thoughts on “Alexis de Tocqueville Still on the Money

  1. Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.
    – Alexis de Tocqueville

    I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all.
    – Alexis de Tocqueville

    There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.
    – Alexis de Tocqueville

  2. Another oldie but goodie…

    From “The Law” by Frederick Bastiat

    Property and Plunder

    Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

    But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

    Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

    When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

    It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.

    But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.

    This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.

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