Some of My Favorite Heinlein Quotes

Some (not all) of my favorite Lazarus Long quotes, in no particular order. Lazarus Long is a character created by Robert A. Heinlein. You can see more of them here. – Popgun

———

You live and learn. Or you don’t live long.

What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!

If it can’t be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion. It has long been known that one horse can run faster than another —
but which one? Differences are crucial.

Beware of altruism. It is based on self deception, the root of all evil.

Never appeal to a man’s “better nature.” He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.

You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness.

Thou shalt remember the Eleventh Commandment and keep it Wholly.

Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort. << Popgun’s Note: I’m a surly curmudgeon… >>

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors — and miss.

Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly.

Cheops’ Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.

A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.

Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you; if you don’t bet, you can’t win.

Tilting at windmills hurts you more than the windmills.

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.” << Popgun’s Note: This is what is about to happen to the U.S. as this administration persecutes the wealthy businessmen who create jobs, punishing them for their success. Also reference Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. >>

Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How’s that again? I missed something.

Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let’s play that over again, too. Who decides?

Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.

Money is truthful. If a man speaks of his honor, make him pay cash.

Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny.

The phrase “we (I) (you) simply must–” designates something that need not be done. “That goes without saying” is a red warning. “Of course” means you had best check it yourself. These small-change cliches and others like them, when read correctly, are reliable channel markers.

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and measures you want to vote for… But there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong.
If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time that truly intelligent exercise of the franchise requires.

When the need arises — and it does — you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don’t farm it out — that doesn’t make it nicer, it makes it worse.

Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can’t help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please — this won’t take long.” Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!
So learn to say No – and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you. (This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don’t do it because it is “expected” of you.)

Endit. -Popgun

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