Russell Baker Quotes

The Government cannot afford to have a country made up entirely of rich people, because rich people pay so little tax that the Government would quickly go bankrupt. This is why Government men always tell us that labor is man's noblest calling. Government needs labor to pay its upkeep.

Russell Baker

This may be why New Yorkers instinctively avoid making eye contact with each other in crowded places, why they "look right through you," as dismayed visitors often complain. They are not looking right through you at all; they are discreetly avoiding an intrusion into your space. They sense the danger in a place where a one-degree temperature rise can mean an explosion.

Russell Baker

The odd thing is not that we are in the business of overthrowing other people's governments, but that we can still be surprised when somebody reminds us of it. In Asia, in Latin America, Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East we have been propping up and knocking down governments more or less openly for the past twenty-five years. It is an established policy. Everybody knows it. It is supposed to be done covertly, which is only sensible if you hope to succeed since publicity in matters of this sort can only make the natives restless and defeat the project. Imagine the chauvinistic rallying around President Nixon that would have occurred if Canada, say, had announced that her agents were going to destabilize United States society so that discontented Americans could heave the Nixon Administration out of office.

Russell Baker

Urban people, of course, are terribly scared nowadays. They may yearn for society, but it is risky to go around talking to strangers, for a lot of reasons, one being that people are so accustomed not to have many human contacts that they are afraid they may find out they really prefer life that way.

Russell Baker

Americans treat history like a cookbook. Whenever they are uncertain what to do next, they turn to history and look up the proper recipe, invariably designated "the lesson of history."

Russell Baker

We watched some of the movie. It was shocking. Sex is apparently hard labor. Various persons supported crushing weights in agonizing positions for what seemed like endless blocks of time. Exhausted men grunted and toiled like movers trying to get a refrigerator into a fifth floor walk-up.

Russell Baker

The best thing about being President is that it gets you out of American life. I don't know what the theory is behind this, but it is a fact. The first thing we do with a President is shunt him off to a siding where nothing American can ever happen to him.

Russell Baker

A railroad station? That was sort of a primitive airport, only you didn't have to take a cab 20 miles out of town to reach it.

Russell Baker

A group of politicians deciding to dump a President because his morals are bad is like the Mafia getting together to bump off the Godfather for not going to church on Sunday.

Russell Baker

Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.

Russell Baker

Inanimate objects can be classified scientifically into three major categories: those that don't work, those that break down and those that get lost. The goal of all inanimate objects is to resist man and ultimately to defeat him, and the three major classifications are based on the method each object uses to achieve its purpose. As a general rule, any object capable of breaking down at the moment when it is most needed will do so.

Russell Baker

It seems to be a law of American life that whatever enriches us anywhere except in the wallet inevitably becomes uneconomic.

Russell Baker

People seem to enjoy things more when they know a lot of other people have been left out of the pleasure.

Russell Baker
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