James Bovard

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James Bovard (born 1956) is a bestselling libertarian author and lecturer, whose political commentary targets examples of waste, failures, corruption, cronyism and abuses of power in government.


  • Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
    • Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (1994), p. 333
    • Compare earlier version by Marvin Simkin, "Individual Rights", Los Angeles Times, 12 January 1992:[1] "Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote."
    • Compare earlier version by Charles Flatt and Sheila Allen, "'Mainstream Values' Vs. Campus Pluralism : Campus Correspondence : The Privileged Classes Must Yield in the Name of Equality", Los Angeles Times, 25 November 1990:[2] "Democracy has been described as four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Unmoderated majority rule means that the mistakes, the ignorance and the prejudices of the majority will become law. Minorities will be devoured, and the resulting society will be one of enforced and fearful homogeneity."
    • Compare earlier version by James Bovard, "Re: One Person's Impact", Usenet group sci.environment, 23 April 1990:[3] "A democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Winston Churchill wasn't necessarily making a compliment when he said that democracy was the worst form of government, except for all the rest. Democracy has no more claim to legitimacy than totalitarian dictatorship."
  • A democratic government that respects no limits on its power is a ticking time bomb, waiting to destroy the rights it was created to protect.
    • JimBovard.com[4]
  • America needs fewer laws, not more prisons. By trying to seize far more power than is necessary over American citizens, the federal government is destroying its own legitimacy. We face a choice not of anarchy or authoritarianism, but a choice of limited government or unlimited government.
    • Lost Rights; The Destruction of American Liberty[5]

From The Fair Trade Fraud (St. Martin's Press, 1991) [6][edit]

  • Government cannot make trade more fair by making it less free.
  • “Fair trade” is a moral delusion that could be leading to an economic catastrophe.
  • The U.S. government has created a trade lynch law that can convict foreign companies almost regardless of how they operate.
  • It should not be a federal crime to charge low prices to American consumers.

From Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (St. Martin's Press, 1994) [7][edit]

  • A law is simply a reflection of the momentary perception of self-interest by a majority of a legislative body.
  • The federal tax system is turning individuals into sharecroppers of their own lives.

From Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen (St. Martin's Press, 1999) [8][edit]

  • Paternalism is a desperate gamble that lying politicians will honestly care for those who fall under their power.
  • The Night Watchman State has been replaced by Highway Robber States – governments in which no asset, no contract, no domain is safe from the fleeting whim of politicians.
  • So much of political philosophy throughout history has consisted of concocting reasons why people have a duty to be tame animals in politicians’ cages.
  • The surest effect of exalting government is to make it easier for some people to drag others down.
  • The growth of government is like the spread of a dense jungle, and the average citizen can hack through less of it every year.
  • Trusting government nowadays means dividing humanity into two classes: those who can be trusted with power to run other people’s lives, and those who cannot even be trusted to run their own lives.

From Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years (St. Martin's Press, 2000) [9][edit]

  • Clinton exploited and expanded the dictatorial potential of the U.S. presidency.
  • For scores of millions of Americans, Clinton's "caring" was more important than his lying.
  • The principle of government supremacy is Clinton's clearest legacy.
  • The better that people understand what Clinton did in office, the greater the nation's chances for political recovery.

From Terrorism & Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave, 2003) [10][edit]

  • Nothing happened on 9/11 that made the federal government more trustworthy.
  • The Patriot Act treats every citizen like a suspected terrorist and every federal agent like a proven angel.
  • The worse government fails, the less privacy citizens supposedly deserve.
  • There is no technological magic bullet that will make the government as smart as it is powerful.
  • Killing foreigners is no substitute for protecting Americans.
  • It is impossible to destroy all alleged enemies of freedom everywhere without also destroying freedom in the United States.
  • A lie that is accepted by a sufficient number of ignorant voters becomes a political truth.
  • Citizens should distrust politicians who distrust freedom.
  • In the long run, people have more to fear from governments than from terrorists. Terrorists come and go, but power-hungry politicians will always be with us.

From The Bush Betrayal (Palgrave, 2004) [11][edit]

  • Truth is a lagging indicator in politics.
  • The arrogance of power is the best hope for the survival of freedom.
  • We need a constitutional amendment to make the federal government obey the Constitution.
  • There are no harmless political lies about a war. The more such lies citizens tolerate, the more wars they will get.
  • People have been taught to expect far more from government than from freedom.

From Attention Deficit Democracy (Palgrave, 2006) [12][edit]

  • Rather than a democracy, we increasingly have an elective dictatorship. People are merely permitted to choose who will violate the laws and the Constitution.
  • Instead of revealing the “will of the people,” election results are often only a one-day snapshot of transient mass delusions.
  • Bogus fears can produce real servitude.
  • As long as rulers are above the law, citizens have the same type of freedom that slaves had on days when their masters chose not to beat them.
  • Democracy unleashes the State in the name of the people.
  • The more that democracy is assumed to be inevitable, the more likely it will self-destruct.
  • Attention Deficit Democracy produces the attitudes, ignorance and arrogance that pave the way to political collapse.

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