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.

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Entry from October 20, 2013
“Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods”

Baltimore-based essayist and journalist H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) wrote in 1936:

“The state—or, to make the matter more concrete, the government—consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

The Baltimore (MD) Sun published very different morning and afternoon editions; the passage was probably written for the Baltimore Evening Sun, under the title “Sham Battle.” Mencken’s anthology A Carnival of Buncombe gives a date of October 26, 1936. A 1972 book, however, gives a date of September 28, 1936.

[This entry was assisted with research from the Quote Investigator.]


Wikipedia: H. L. Mencken
Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956) was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, critic of American life and culture, and scholar of American English. Known as the “Sage of Baltimore”, he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the twentieth century. Many of his books remain in print.

Google Books
A Carnival of Buncombe
By Henry Louis Mencken
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press
1956
Pg. 325:
The state—or, to make the matter more concrete, the government—consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

Government, of course, has other functions, and some of them are useful and even valuable. It is supposed, in theory, to keep the peace, and also to protect the citizen against acts of God and the public enemy.

30 August 1960, Indiana (PA) Evening Gazette, “Point of View: Need Good Moral Sense” by William L. Ingersoll, pg. 6, col. 1:
In this connection we are reminded of a sage remark made by H. L. Mencken, who made a good living knocking the platitudes and cliches of politicians and doo-gooders alike into ill-shapen supports for public beliefs:

“.. . the government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taken one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

If that sounds a bit harsh, it is good medicine for that part of our society which is dormant and apathetic, and sorely needs sharp prodding.

Google Books
Charting the Candidates ‘72
By Ronald Van Doren
New York, NY: Pinnacle Books
1972
Pg. 8:
The state — or, to make matters more concrete, the government — consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.
— H.L. Mencken
The Baltimore Sun
September 28, 1936

Free Republic
Some americans - maybe. But the truth is as Romney stated, that 47% of the country is on the dole in one form or another, and by far the bulk of the 47% will vote for whoever promises them the most loot from the rest of us. H. L. Mencken said:

The state, or, to make matters more concrete, the government, consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting “A” to satisfy “B”. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods.

The 47% see this as a good thing. They are used to receiving and indeed feel strongly that they’re entitled to the “stolen goods” provided by the rest of us via the armed robbers of government. Or to put it another way, if you rob Peter to pay Paul, then you can count on the unconditional support of Paul.
16 posted on 10/17/2012 5:40:05 AM PDT by from occupied ga

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Sunday, October 20, 2013 • Permalink