Harry Browne

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Coercion never produces harmony. How harmonious are people who are being forced to act against their will? Most likely, those who are coerced will resent those who benefit from the coercion. This sets group against group; it doesn't bring them together.

Harry Edson Browne (17 June 19331 March 2006) was an American politician, libertarian writer and public speaker, and w:investment analyst.&bnsp; He was the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee in the U. S. elections of 1996 and 2000.  He was the author of 23[1] books that in total have sold more than 2 million copies and of thousands of articles, co-founder and Director of Public Policy of the libertarian Downsize DC Foundation, and host of two weekly network radio shows (The Libertarian Conversation and The Money Show) and of an eTV show (This Week in Liberty with Harry Browne).



Why Government Doesn't Work (1996)[edit]

LiamWorks, Great Falls, MT, 1996

  • If you resist, their job will be to "take you into custody"—which is a euphemism for seizing you, handcuffing you, and taking you to jail.

    At this point, it will be obvious that the regulation's purpose is to force barbers to charge at least $8—not by persuasion, but with a gun.

    Every government program, no matter how benign it may appear, is the same.  Coercion is the reason—and the only reason—it is a government program.

    • Part One, chapter 2, page 12
  • So what is government?  Very simply, it is an agency of coercion.

    Of course, there are other agencies of coercion—such as the Mafia.  So to be more precise, government is the agency of coercion that has flags in front of its offices.

    Or to put it another way, government is society's dominant producer of coercion.  The Mafia and independent bandits are merely fringe competitors—seeking to take advantage of the niches and nooks neglected by the government.

    • Part One, chapter 2, page 12
  • Once its considered proper to use government force to solve one person’s problem, force can be justified to solve anyone’s problem.
    • Part One, chapter 4, page 18
  • I call this The Dictator Syndrome.  You see suffering or danger, and in your imagination you see a government program eliminating it.  But in the real world the program would operate as you expect only if you were an absolute dictator—having at your disposal all the government's power to compel everyone to do things your way.
    • Part One, chapter 5, page 20
  • But coercion never produces harmony.  How harmonious are people who are being forced to act against their will?  Most likely, those who are coerced will resent those who benefit from the coercion.  This sets group against group; it doesn't bring them together.
    • Part One, chapter 5, page 24
  • The government that's strong enough to give you what you want by taking it from someone else is strong enough to take everything you have and give it to someone else.
    • Part One, chapter 5, page 27

Liberty A to Z (2004)[edit]

Advocates for Self-Government, Indianapolis, IN, 2004

  • Since government supposedly can do whatever it sets out to do, the president should sign an executive order outlawing death. However, as with all other laws, Congress should be exempt.
    • p. 44
  • Conservatives are very upset at the idea of a single-mom family. But they do their best to create a lot of them by sending American men off to war to be killed.
    • p. 49
  • No one ever died from smoking marijuana, but millions of people have died by believing politicians. So why is marijuana outlawed while politicians are still legal?
    • p. 55
  • The free market punishes irresponsibility. Government rewards it.
    • p. 76
  • I want government small enough to fit inside the Constitution.
    • p. 83
  • It is a mistake to define a libertarian as someone who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Never define libertarians in terms of conservatives or liberals. Conservative politicians are as fiscally imprudent as liberals, and liberal politicians are as contemptuous of individual rights as conservatives.
    • p. 127
  • Whenever the government fails to prevent a plane crash, the event is cited as justification for having the government prevent plane crashes.
    • p. 147
  • Republicans campaign like Libertarians and govern like Democrats.
    • p. 151


  • When will we learn that we can't allow our politicians to bully the world without someone bullying back eventually?
    • “When Will We Learn?”, posted one day after 9/11, Antiwar.com, (Sept. 12, 2001).
  • I say that the Second Amendment doesn't allow for exceptions — or else it would have read that the right "to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless Congress chooses otherwise." And because there are no exceptions, I disagree with my fellow panelists who say the existing gun laws should be enforced. Those laws are unconstitutional [and] wrong — because they put you at a disadvantage to armed criminals, to whom the laws are no inconvenience.
    • Second Amendment rally in Arkansas (Aug. 8, 2000)
  • Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, "See, if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk."
  • Given the results of the government's War on Poverty and the War on Drugs, we can assume that a War on Abortion will lead within five years to men having abortions.

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