Historic Views on Government – Samuel Johnson

Honest opinion about government from Samuel Johnson:

Most of the misery which the defamation of blameless actions or the obstruction of honest endeavors brings upon the world is inflicted by men that propose no advantage to themselves but the satisfaction of poisoning the banquet which they cannot taste, and blasting the harvest which they have no right to reap.
   The Rambler, 1751

English author, poet, and lexicographer, Samuel Johnson is perhaps most famous for his pioneering Dictionary of the English Language (1755), which established the practice of clarifying definitions by quotations from leading authors. He wrote many other works, including The Rambler essays (1750-1752), the satirical Rasselas (1759)–a fictional assault on metaphysical optimism–and Lives of the English Poets (1779-1781). His political views were very much like those of Edmund Burke: conservative, traditional, and distrustful of popular upheavals. Johnson was immortalized by his biographer James Boswell, who wrote Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).

Quotation and short bio from The Quotable Conservative: The Giants of Conservatism on Liberty, Freedom, Individual Responsibility, and Traditional Values. Rod L. Evans and Irwin M. Berent, editors. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Publishing, 1996.

Historic Views on Government – Brigitte Berger

Honest opinion about government from Brigitte Berger:

No amount of legislation and court decisions can produce in the individual such basic moral ideas as the inviolability of human rights, the willing assent to legal norms, or the notion that contractual agreements must be respected.

[N]either the state nor the judiciary can be moral authorities in and of themselves. When they try to do this, they either are ineffective (the usual case in democracies) or they start out on a path at the end of which lies totalitarianism, in which the political order tries to absorb into itself all values and all institutions in the society (in which case democracy must come to an end).

For understandable reasons, public policy in the modern welfare state has been aimed toward those who are weak and in need of help. Commonly, the people who fulfill these criteria are rather few…, and certainly are a minority of the population. This very limited definition of the scope of public policy clashes with the expansionary tendency of the bureaucratic and professional empires spawned by the welfare state. Quite logically, the latter tended to inflate the definitions both of weakness and of need. Ever more families were added to the category of those too weak to cope by themselves, and new needs were invented. Thus, in America, the definition of the family was changed to "families," all of these were supposed to be in "crisis," and at the same time the real needs of certain types of families were magnified and distorted.
   The War Over the Family, 1983

Professor of sociology at Wellesley College, Brigitte Berger has written The War Over the Family (with Peter Berger, 1983) and edited Child Care and Mediating Structures (with Sidney Callahan, 1979).

Quotation and short bio from The Quotable Conservative: The Giants of Conservatism on Liberty, Freedom, Individual Responsibility, and Traditional Values. Rod L. Evans and Irwin M. Berent, editors. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Publishing, 1996.