October is a month of ghosts and spirits, so why don’t we learn some things from beyond the grave…The whole idea of learning from the dead is that the things that divide us (Republican vs. Democrat, Liberal vs. Conservative, Wall Street vs. Main Street) have been around for a very long time.

The public has a short memory. I want to point out that both sides in this free-for-all we call a government have been saying the same things about each other during the last 100 years (and even longer in the case of Civil Rights).

Last week, I spotlighted the words of the Godfather of the social safety net, Franklin D. Roosevelt. This week, I’m channeling Harry S. Truman who became President when FDR died. He was the President from April of 1945 until January of 1953.

Truman on Government and the Governed

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

“My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

“Selfishness and greed, individual or national, cause most of our troubles.”

“We should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern; that financial barriers in the way of attaining health shall be removed; that the health of all its citizens deserves the help of all the nation.”

“Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and to enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. And the time has now arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and to help them get that protection.”

“We must remember that the test of our religious principles lies not just in what we say, not only in our prayers, not even in living blameless lives – but in what we do for others.”

Truman on Richard M. Nixon

“Richard Nixon is a no good, lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he’d lie just to keep his hand in.”

Truman on Republicans

“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.”

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself.”

“Republicans don’t like people to talk about depressions. You can hardly blame them for that. You remember the old saying: Don’t talk about rope in the house where somebody has been hanged.”

“The Republicans believe in the minimum wage — the more the minimum, the better.”

“On the one hand, the Republicans are telling industrial workers that the high cost of food in the cities is due to this government’s farm policy. On the other hand, the Republicans are telling the farmers that the high cost of manufactured goods on the farm is due to this government’s labor policy. That’s plain hokum. It’s an old political trick: “If you can’t convince ‘em, confuse ‘em.” But this time it won’t work.”

“A bureaucrat is a Democrat who holds some office that a Republican wants.”

Truman on Firing General Douglas MacArthur (Bonus Material)

“I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the laws for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail. That’s why when a good one comes along like General [George] Marshall, why you’ve got to hang onto them, and I did…”

“I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I have finally concluded… decided that there were times when he . . . well, I’m afraid when he wasn’t right in the head. And there never was anyone around to him to keep in line. He didn’t have anyone on his staff who wasn’t an ass kisser…”