A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 14, 2014
“Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together”

American philosopher and Harvard professor Robert Nozick (1938-2002) wrote in 1989:

“There are some things we choose to do together through government in solemn marking of our human solidarity, served by the fact that we do them together in this official fashion.”

Barney Frank, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts, is crediting with saying, “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said in a speech at the Democratic National Convention in August 2008:

“Government, as Barney Frank likes to say, is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

Some conservatives and libertarians have disputed the saying, arguing that governmental overreaches (such as foreign wars) are not “things we choose to do together.”


Google Books
Natural Rights Liberalism from Locke to Nozick:
Volume 22, Part 1

Edited by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller and Jeffrey Paul
New York, NY: Cambridge University Press
2005
Pg. 196:
There are some things we choose to do together through government in solemn marking of our human solidarity, served by the fact that we do them together in this official fashion.

Robert Nozick, The Examined Life: Philosophical Meditations (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), 286-87.

Passionately Curious
Purpose: It Takes A Village
Jon Dreyer
2007-12-17
Meta-purpose
(...)
Congressman Barney Frank has said that “’government’ is the name we give to the things we choose to do together” (Patrick 2006) . Similarly, “public school” is the name we give to the child rearing we choose to do together.

Massachusetts AFL-CIO
April 25, 2008
The kick-off meeting of the Coalition for Our Communities, the organization to defeat the ballot initiative to eliminate the income tax, draws large and diverse crowd.
(...)
Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes paraphrased Congressman Barney Frank to convey the importance of protecting the services that come from the income tax: “Government consists of the things we choose to do together and the income tax is one price of membership in society we all have to pay. We must pay our fair share so our kids are educated, our roads, bridges, and core infrastructure are kept up, our public safety is ensured and delivered by the very best trained, equipped and prepared professionals, and the basic foundation of a true concept of community remains strong and uncompromised by needless fights over too few resources.”

Presidential Rhetoric
Speeches from the 2008 Democratic National Convention
Deval Patrick
Remarks to the 2008 Democratic National Convention
Denver, Colorado
August 26, 2008
(...)
Barack Obama has challenged us to rebuild our national community. To focus not on the things that tear us apart, but on those that bring us together; not on the right or the left, but right and wrong; not on yesterday, but tomorrow. These are the possibilities Barack Obama asks us to reach for. This is the kind of leadership he offers to bring to the presidency—not because government can solve every problem in everybody’s life; but because “government,” as Barney Frank likes to say, is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.

Althouse
August 26, 2008
Okay. I’m up for it tonight. I’m live-blogging Hillary Night at the Democratic Convention.
(...)
9:15: Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachussetts. I’m getting nothing out of this. Reach for tomorrow… “Government is simply the name we use for the things we choose to do together.” That’s a quote from Barney Frank. Sorry. I detest sentimentality about government. I want more critical thinking and humility.

National Review Online
‘The Things We Choose To Do Together’
By Jim Geraghty
August 27, 2008 11:06 AM
Massachusetts Governor: Deval Patrick, last night:

“This is the kind of leadership [Obama] offers to bring to the presidency — not because government can solve every problem in everybody’s life; but because ‘government,’ as Barney Frank likes to say, is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

While the phrase may sound good to Frank and laid off Hallmark card copywriters, it’s meaningless and stupid. Apparently the things we choose to do together include IRS audits, seizing privately-held land under Kelo v. City of New London, building Bridges to Nowhere, giving subsidies to sugar producers and foreign aid to the Egyptian government, bans on the use of private land because endangered species may be present at times, and the line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Huffington Post
Robert Creamer Political organizer, strategist and author
Posted: August 26, 2009 09:51 AM
Greatest Tribute to Kennedy: Pass Health Care for All
(...)
Kennedy knew - as his friend Congressman Barney Frank says - that Government is nothing more than the name we give to the things we choose to do together.

Twitter
Timothy P Carney
‏@TPCarney
Mass. liberals like to say “‘Government’ is what we call the things we choose to do together.” Does that make TSA groping worse?
11:02 AM - 16 Nov 2010

New York (NY) Times
OP-ED COLUMNIST
Government and Its Rivals
By ROSS DOUTHAT
Published: January 28, 2012
(...)
In this worldview, the government is just the natural expression of our national community, and the place where we all join hands to pursue the common good. Or to borrow a line attributed to Representative Barney Frank, “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

Twitter
Stephanie Chin
‏@chinthoughts
#OppSummit @oppnation “government is the name we give to the things we choose to do together,” Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
2:24 PM - 19 Sep 2012

Twitter
Maggie McNeill
‏@Maggie_McNeill
Government is just a word for things we choose to do together. http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2013/09/08/left-with-nothing/ … … Like steal old Marines’ houses for $134 in taxes.
1:25 PM - 9 Sep 2013

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, June 14, 2014 • Permalink