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If the people are barely aware that the government exists,
they are happy.
When the government is felt to be oppressive,
they are broken.
Good fortune, alas! builds itself upon misery.
Good fortune, alas! is the mask of misery.
What will come of this? We cannot foresee the end.
Order is upset and turns to disorder, good becomes evil.
The people are confused.
Is it not so, day in, day out, from the beginning?
The wise man is therefore angular, though he does not injure others;
he has sharp corners, though he does not harm;
he is upright but not gruff.
He is clearminded, but he does not try to be brilliant.
–Laozi (??), Daodejing (???) (4th century BCE)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Number of U.S. congressional districts in which trade with China has produced more jobs than it has cost:
Young bilingual children who learned one language first are likelier than monolingual children and bilingual children who learned languages simultaneously to say that a dog adopted by owls will hoot.
An Oklahoma legislative committee voted to defund Advanced Placement U.S. History courses, accusing the curriculum of portraying the United States as “a nation of oppressors and exploiters.”
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“He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.”