Today, while making my way through a supermarket parking lot, I nearly got clipped when I didn’t hear a car backing out from its space. I assume it was one of those silent hybrids. Once I got done thanking God for providing me with my cat-like reflexes, it occurred to me to wonder why every vehicle doesn’t come equipped with those back-up beepers one finds on trucks.
That, in turn, reminded me that a friend recently informed me that she and her husband had just purchased a hybrid and that it ran as silent as a tomb. When I commented that such cars must be particularly dangerous for blind people, she said, “Well, they shouldn’t be driving in the first place.”
It’s not often these days that I laugh out loud except at my own remarks, but that one got a full-fledged chuckle. This being the season for gift-giving, and few gifts being as precious or as inexpensive as laughter, I will take this opportunity to share a number of time-honored witticisms which should at least warrant a grin, if not necessarily a guffaw.
Among Mark Twain’s numerous sage observations: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” “The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.” “There is no distinctly Native American criminal class save Congress.” And, my personal favorite, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”
Winston Churchill, when he wasn’t otherwise occupied trying to warn the world about Hitler and Stalin, and doing what he could to defeat both, found the time to declare “For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle” and “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings, while the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”
George Bernard Shaw, although an avowed Socialist, was bright enough to acknowledge “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”
G. Gordon Liddy, probably the only person to emerge from the Watergate scandal with his manhood intact, described a liberal as “someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.”
Douglas Casey, an economics guru and one-time college classmate of Bill Clinton, described foreign aid as “a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.”
P.J. O’Rourke, the American who’s probably done the most to promote the cause of booze, cigars and political cynicism, is the fellow who said “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys” and “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!”
Ronald Reagan, the last first-rate president we’ve had and very possibly, at the rate we’re going, the last one we’ll ever have, wasn’t called the Great Communicator for nothing. Among his many memorable comments: “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” And the even more graphic “The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.”
It was Thomas Jefferson who warned that “A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have,” while it was Pericles who, nearly 2500 years ago, uttered these rather blood-chilling words: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”