Sunday, 2 May 2010

Common knowledge, innit?

I keep on seeing people in the comments section of newspaper articles, which are often unintentionally funnier than the articles themselves, repeat this quotation, attributing it to an 18th Century 'Historian' Alexander Fraser Tytler (Not Tyler), from a book ('Cycle of Democracy' published around 1770) Having looked extensively for this title, I can't find any trace of via the various online catalogues I browse for research. However, the quotations provenance is probably far more convoluted, at least according to this researcher.

Now I'd always thought these remarks, or some like them, originally came from Benjamin Franklyn, which just goes to show how wrong you can be. The 'quotation' runs as follows;
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
Now this false attribution doesn't make the words any less true. Spend more than you've got, and you're cruising for a very bruising time financially. As our Greek friends are finding out the hard way.

Just as an aside, French political thinker and Historian, Alexis de Toqueville really did make this remark;
A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.
Many people, especially those on the left wing of politics, don't seem to get the connection between prosperity and work done. They miss the fundamental truth that parties always end, and the bill has to be paid sometime. The bigger the party, the bigger the bill. This is one of the less pleasant financial 'facts of life'. You know what they are, the ones your Mum and Dad were always bleating on about and you didn't listen to. Remember them? Got it in one.

Being fiscally prudent, any non food purchases we make today are to come from Garage sales and the local 'Swap meet'. Just helping the local economy go round.

Am feeling particularly smug today because yesterday afternoon, with the help of our landlords workshop (The man is utter diamond), we built a custom padded headboard for our bed. Now I can sit up and read in languorous comfort without banging the back of my head on the wall. Very cosy.

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