Sunday, November 29, 2009

Great Quotes: William F. Buckley, Jr.

I recently finished William F. Buckley, Jr.'s Up From Liberalism published in 1959. For those who may never have heard of Buckley; he was one of the most influential writers of the modern conservative movement.

The interesting thing about the book is that the political issues and liberal tactics Buckley described in 1959 are essentially the same as those found in 2009. Given the current health care bills in Congress, I had to laugh when Buckley discussed the issue of universal (i.e., socialized) health care in a 50 year-old book. Much of the book's focus was on how Americans didn't realize that financial freedom is a crucial component of liberty. Considering how many Americans seem ready to submit ever larger portions of their paychecks (and more often the paychecks of their fellow citizens) to support the Democrats' programs, it seems that 50 years later we still haven't gotten the message.

The saddest part is that, far from being an alarmist, Buckley underestimated how bad things would be in the future. His argument against programs such as Social Security are from a philosophical point of view, believing then that Social Security and other social programs would never become extensive enough to actually threaten the American economy. With social programs having run amok, and with the retirement of the Baby Boomers, we are far from the more ideal position in which Buckley's America found itself (a vigorous economy with a larger ratio of wage-earners to social program beneficiaries).

My favorite quote comes from the last page of the book:
"I will not cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth."

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