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

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

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.



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

  1. 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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