William J. H. Boetcker’s Ten Cannots

It has become fashionable for our politicians to give us lists and pledges about things they will do or will not do to improve our well-being. A friend in Northern Ireland pointed me to this list, which is filled with great wisdom. I wonder if our politicians would do better to look at this, rather than promising another bonfire of red tape and more jam tomorrow.

  • You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  • You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  • You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  • You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  • You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  • You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  • You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  • You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  • You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
  • And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

Can you improve on it?

5 Comments

  • Simon Bennett says:

    “You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.”

    It depends whether the big men are repressing the little men; if they are, then tearing them down will certainly help the little men.

    The biggest men that need tearing down at the moment are those that wantonly expand the money supply for their own enrichment, robbing all those productive members of our society who actually provide something useful for their fellow man.

    Just because someone is a big man, does not necessarily mean that he should not be torn down. Those with power should realise that they have great responsibility. If they do not not act responsibly then they must be torn down, or the Universe itself will tear them down.

  • John (Netherlands) says:

    To the 10 Cannots I would say Amen. It is clear that economics and ethics go together. If he was still alive I would vote your great St. Patrick king of Ireland! Christian religion ended slavery, Socialism/big government/corporate fascism brought slavery back with a vengeance. Come on Irish people. Where’s your fighting spirit? Remember your history.

  • John (Netherlands) says:

    I was probably not aware that your green coloured site did not mean that it’s Irish…haha. Sorry for that.

  • Jon Watts says:

    Thank you Toby for posting this insightful list. I took some time to review your site. I applaud your efforts and will support them by featuring your site in the economic freedom section of mine. We are small – I do it and fund it alone, but it’s not the size of the dog in the fight as they say.

    As Emily Dickinson said “There is no frigate like a book” Likewise, the ideas and simple reason embodied in Austrian School philosophies, and the ideas of freedom across the ages are the deus ex machina that will extract us from socialism’s tragic theatre, if we can but deploy them.

    To that effort!,

    Jon Watts,

    Founder, Free Range Patriots

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