Viewpoints by Kirby Anderson

With of all the congressional spending, there have been some e-mails circulating with common sense sayings written by wise people long ago. One of those is the ten “you cannots.” If you have not seen them, here they are:

1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
3. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
4. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
5. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
6. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
7. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
9. You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.

Over the years they have been incorrectly attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Actually they were written in 1916 by the Reverend William Boetcker, a Presbyterian clergyman and pamphlet writer. The confusion stemmed from a pamphlet published in 1942 entitled Lincoln on Limitations. The pamphlet had a Lincoln quote on one side and these statements by the Boetcker on the other side.

There is wisdom in these ten “you cannots.” Unfortunately, we live in a world today that really believes we can help one part of society by harming another part of society. We need to listen to this wise pastor before we enact more legislation that attempts to help some by harming others.

Point of View