“10,000 Regulations…Destroy All Respect for the Law”

by Richard Langworth on 24 July 2012

Today I saw on Facebook a quote attributed to Winston Churchill. “If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.”I can find no documentation to support his saying or writing these words. Can you help me to verify it is an accurate quote or a misattribution? —Jenny via email

Jenny, Facebook and Twitter must be the world’s leading sources of false Churchill quotes, so thanks for questioning this one—which is, for a change, right (although his word was “make,” not “have”)….

From Churchill By Himself page 17:

Free Market

“If you destroy a free market you create a black market.”

—House of Commons, 3 February 1949

Churchill added: “If you make ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.”

He was arguing against the stifling regulations of industry and commerce by the postwar Labour Government (1945-51). Not a lot new under the sun.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Trochilus April 17, 2014 at 11:57

There are several wonderful reasons why Winston Churchill has long been so respected and so loved by the American people. Central to that connection he had with us, and vice versa, the true affinity which we felt for him, was grounded in his uncommon capacity to summarize, in a few choice words, that which we had been seeing previously as a problem of extraordinary complexity. Every once in a while, some insightful and incisive comment that he made at some point in his long career, becomes quite relevant to our current understanding of ourselves as a free people.

To me, the above quotations from 1949, spoken to the House of Commons, reaches out to we Americans today, and has a ring of truth to it which we should heed.

Let me share a somewhat similar sentiment — the words of “Publius” (in this particular case, probably written by James Madison, but possibly by Alexander Hamilton) from “The Federalist Papers Number 62,” one of the many the series of defenses of the proposed United States Constitution, which were written and published in New York, beginning back in 1787. Number 62 was first published on February 27, 1788.

” … It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
. . . .”

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