John W. Gardner

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History never looks like history when you are living through it.
The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

John William Gardner (8 October 191216 February 2002) was President of the Carnegie Corporation and Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Lyndon Johnson.

Sourced[edit]

  • The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
    • Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too? (1961).
  • Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world's ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.
    • "A Nation Is Never Finished", ABA Journal (November 1967), Volume 53, page 1011.
  • More and more Americans feel threatened by runaway technology, by large-scale organization, by overcrowding. More and more Americans are appalled by the ravages of industrial progress, by the defacement of nature, by man-made ugliness. If our society continues at its present rate to become less livable as it becomes more affluent, we promise all to end up in sumptuous misery.
    • No Easy Victories, ed. Helen Rowan (1968), p. 57.
  • Tax reduction has an almost irresitible appeal to the politician, and it is no doubt also gratifying to the citizen. It means more dollars in his pocket, dollars that he can spend if inflation doesn't consume them first. But dollars in his pocket won't buy him clean streets or an adequate police force or good schools or clear air and water. Handing money back to the private sector in tax cuts and starving the public sector is a formula for producing richer and richer consumers in filthier and filthier communities. If we stick to that formula we shall end up in affluent misery.
    • The Recovery of Confidence (1970), p. 152.
  • Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.
    • Quoted in Matthew M. Radmanesh, Cracking the Code of Our Physical Universe, p. 269.
Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.
  • History never looks like history when you are living through it.
    • Quoted in Rhoda Thomas Tripp, The International Thesaurus of Quotations (1970), p.280.
  • We have to face the fact that most men and women out there are more stale than they know, more bored than they care to admit.
    • Quoted in "Self Renewal" (1964).

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