Sadly, P.J. O’Rourke passed away yesterday at the age of 74 from cancer. Not only was O’Rourke a terrific writer and a genuinely funny guy, he also had a gift for slipping meaningful commentary into his humor. As a tribute to P.J. O’Rourke (who I interviewed back in 2010), here are his 25 best quotes. RIP P.J. O’Rourke. You helped make the world a better place.
25) "I have a 10-year-old at home, and she is always saying, 'That's not fair.' When she says that, I say, ‘Honey, you're cute; that's not fair. Your family is pretty well off; that's not fair. You were born in America; that's not fair. Honey, you had better pray to God that things don't start getting fair for you.’"
24) "I can understand why mankind hasn’t given up war. During a war, you get to drive tanks through the sides of buildings and shoot foreigners – two things that are usually frowned on during peacetime."
23) "The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop."
22) "Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit."
21) "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."
20) "A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them."
19) "Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history, mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst-off sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores."
18) "There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as 'caring' and 'sensitive' because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. Well, who isn’t?"
17) "I’m a registered Republican and consider socialism a violation of the American principle that you shouldn’t stick your nose in other people’s business except to make a buck."
16) "One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver’s license."
15) "Giving government money and power is like giving car keys and whiskey to a teenage boy."
14) "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."
13) "These were people who believed everything about the Soviet Union was perfect, but they were bringing their own toilet paper."
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12) "You say we [reporters] are distracting from the business of government. Well, I hope so. Distracting a politician from governing is like distracting a bear from eating your baby."
11) "What’s bad for us is good for politicians. They line up to lick our wounds. They love it when we’re hurt."
10) "Never refuse wine. It is an odd but universally held opinion that anyone who doesn’t drink must be an alcoholic."
9) "There’s a whiff of the lynch mob or the lemming migration about any overlarge concentration of like-thinking individuals, no matter how virtuous their cause."
8) "People will tell you anything but what they do is always the truth."
7) "And worrying is less work than doing something to fix the worry. This is especially true if we’re careful to pick the biggest possible problems to worry about. Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help mom do the dishes."
6) "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 philanthropy, everyone hates our guts."
5) "If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free."
4) "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."
3) "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."
2) "The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it."
1) "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."
Sad to learn that we've lost a man of great wit, humor and intelligence. Thanks so much for that fine list of quotes. I will come back to to it often for a breath of wisdom and wry humor concerning the state of the human animal.
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