By Patricia L Johnson
The above quote translated from French into English reads “A good sketch is better than a long speech” and is supposedly attributed to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821. I can’t confirm whether or not he said it because I wasn’t around then and other than “Oui”, I don’t speak French.
There are websites that believe the above quote is the origin of the term “A picture is worth a thousand words”, but is it? Who knows? How much does a quote lose being passed on from one decade to the next, and/or how much is lost in translation from one language to another?
Numerous times I’ve checked out quotes that were attributed to one person, only to find out the words were actually being quoted by that person, rather than spoken.
How many times have you heard the quote “Trust but Verify” attributed to Ronald Reagan? The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library has all sorts of goodies for sale with this famous quote, but was he the first to say the words?
Sir Winston Churchill’s, “The Hinge of Fate,” 1948, published in association with the Cooperation Pub. Co. [by] Houghton Mifflin contains the following on page 687:
“…Memories of the war may be vivid and true, but should never be trusted without verification, especially where the sequence of events is concerned.”
Wiki indicates “Trust but Verify” is misattributed to Ronald Reagan that’s it’s actually a translation of the Russian proverb “doveriai, no porveriai”, but that doesn’t seem to fly either as my translation of “Trust but Verify” into Russian comes out доверяй, но проверяй, a rather moot point as I don’t speak or read Russian either.
What I do trust is numbers. One of the hats I wore during my career was that of corporate accountant and numbers don’t lie. The figures I’m using in the following charts are taken from OMB Historical Tables – Table 1.1 – Summary of Receipts, Outlays and Surpluses or Deficits (-): 1789-2016.
The four separate charts I’ve prepared cover a period of the 28 years, from 1981 through 2008 and are separated by each Presidents term of office. As you can readily see we had Republican presidents for 20-years and a Democratic president for a period of 8-years.
Without a doubt this is an instance where if “A picture is worth a thousand words” four charts have to worth a few trillion.
Republican presidents are consistent from one administration to the next – they create deficits, each and every year they are in office. The only exception is 2001, but that was very definitely a carryover from the Clinton surplus.
We have three separate Republican presidents, in office for a period of 20 years, and out of all three of them they could only come up with one year that wasn’t a deficit, and it had nothing to do with their policies.
© 2011 Patricia L Johnson