Tag Archives: foxholes

The Tenth-Ranked Quotation of 2008: Atheists & Libertarians

The Yale Book of Quotations provides a useful service: It tabulates well-known sound-bites, but tries to get the exact quote and citation right, which is rare.    (P.T. Barnum in fact never said “There is a sucker born every minute.”    Richard Nixon never said “But it would be wrong.” Etc.)  The editor also compiles an annual list of Top Ten Quotes of the Year.   In the second week of December he released the list for 2008.  Number 1, for example, is “I can see Russia from my house” (carefully attributed to the Tina Fey parody rather than precisely what Sarah Palin originally said).

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“No Atheists in Foxholes.” — No Libertarians in Financial Crises.

Someone this week asked me what I thought of policy-makers who ex ante profess a free-market ideology and acute sensitivity to the dangers of moral hazard from financial bailouts, but who toss that ideology overboard when faced with a financial crisis.  The reference was to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s lobbying this week in support of a rescue for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two big home mortgage agencies, following on the rescue of Bear Stearns in March.   My reply was:  “They say there are no atheists in foxholes.   Perhaps, then, there are also no libertarians in financial crises.”

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