A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Running is a mental sport and we are all insane” (4/28)
“Monday must be a man. It comes too quickly” (4/28)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (4/28)
“There’s no more difficult transition than Sunday to Monday” (4/28)
“What do you call a Mexican drowning in mayonnaise?"/"Sinko de Mayo.” (4/28)
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Entry from December 05, 2014
“The problem isn’t the abuse of power; it’s the power to abuse”

"The problem is not the abuse of power, it is the power to abuse” was popularized by Libertarian author Michael Cloud. American author and Libertarian Party presidential candidate (in 1996 and 2000) Harry Browne (1933-2006) frequently used the saying and credited Cloud in a 2000 book.

The connected terms of “the abuse of power” and “the power to abuse” were used before Cloud’s saying. “These means belong to the corporations and not to the people. We have to remember that the ills we suffer from are not in the abuse of power, but in the power to abuse” was cited in print in 1886.


Wikiquote: Michael Cloud
Michael Cloud is a motivational speaker who was the Massachusetts United States Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2002. He garnered 19% of the vote. He served as campaign manager for the 1996 Harry Browne for President campaign. He is formerly known as Michael Emerling.

Attributed
. The problem isn’t the abuse of power. It is the power to abuse.

Google Books
20 February 1886, The Current (Chicago, IL), pg. 117, col. 1:
These means belong to the corporations and not to the people. We have to remember that the ills we suffer from are not in the abuse of power, but in the power to abuse. We may always safely rely on the power being used, not only to serve the greed of those in possession, but to gratify the animal propensity to tyrannize as well.

Google Books
The Dynamics of the American Economy
By Charles H. Hession
New York, NY: Knopf
1956
Pg. 187:
The Power to Abuse Versus the Abuse of Power
Justice Douglas’s statement quoted above expresses one philosophy of thought with respect to concentrated economic power.

Google Books
Politics and the Economy
By James E. Anderson
Boston,MA:  Little, Brown
1966
Pg. 174:
The decisions in the Alcoa and American Tobacco cases produced a new interpretation by condemning “the power to abuse rather than the abuse of power.”

Google Books
The Great Libertarian Offer
By Harry Browne
Great Falls, MT: LiamWorks
2000
Pg. 27:
And the greater the power, the more likely that ruthless people will be the ones to gain control of it.

As Michael Cloud has pointed out, “The problem is not the abuse of power, it is the power to abuse.”

Google Groups: alt.religion.christian.biblestudy
Jesus was a liberal
Shane D. Killian
9/10/00
wrote:
>
> Government power has always, sooner or later, been abused.
>
The problem is not the abuse of power; it’s the power to abuse.

Google Groups: alt.society.conservatism
The Character of George W. Bush
havoc
10/30/00
The character of
George W. Bush
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/bluesky_browne/20001017_xchbr_the_charac.shtml
(...)
Power and character
In short, as Michael Cloud has put it, the problem isn’t the abuse of power, it is the power to abuse. With so much power in political hands, abuse is inevitable—and so you’re reduced to trying to decide who will abuse that power in the way that will do you the least harm.
(...)
Harry Browne is the Libertarian presidential candidate. More of his articles can be read at HarryBrowne.org.

Twitter
minnesotaBNN
‏@minnesotaBNN
Preserving Freedom: The Problem Is Not the Abuse Of Power, It Is The Power To Abuse: The late great Harry Browne.. http://tinyurl.com/7optwj
10:34 PM - 12 Jan 2009

Twitter
Meredith Tupper
‏@meredithtupper
Uniting Liberals & Tea Party? http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/unite-liberals-tea-partyers-nsa-22546539 … “The problem is not just the abuse of power…it’s the power to abuse.” - Stefan Molyneux
7:56 PM - 17 Feb 2014

Twitter
Jeremy Weiland
‏@jeremy6d
It’s not about the abuse of power, it’s about the power to abuse--& our workplaces are soaked in authoritarianism. http://valleywag.gawker.com/meet-the-married-duo-behind-techs-biggest-new-harassme-1545685104
11:07 AM - 18 Mar 2014

Twitter
La Nena de ASkars
‏@askarsismygod
“What I fear most is power with impunity. I fear abuse of power, and the power to abuse.” - Isabel Allende
2:31 AM - 4 Dec 2014

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Friday, December 05, 2014 • Permalink