In 1916, William J. H. Bötcker published a pamphlet titled The Ten Cannots. Ninety-three years later, these words are well worth repeating:
- You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
- You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
- You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
- You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
- You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
- You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
- You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
- You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
- You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
- And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
The above text is taken from the Wikipedia article on Bötcker. The version sent to me was mistakenly attributed to Abraham Lincoln and was missing the third and sixth lines, but they are needed to bring the count up to ten.
The Ten Cannots should also be posted in every office in the government to remind them that there are things they cannot do.