Quotations by Gardner, John W.


As I said in another connection: “An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

John W. Gardner (1912-2002) American writer, businessman, government official
Excellence, Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too? (1961)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Aug-11
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I think that all human systems require continuous renewal. They rigidify. They get stiff in the joints. They forget what they cared about. The forces against it are nostalgia and the enormous appeal of having things the way they have always been, appeals to a supposedly happy past. But we’ve got to move on.

John W. Gardner (1912-2002) American writer, businessman, government official
New York Times (21 Jul. 1989)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Creative minds are rarely tidy.

John W. Gardner (1912-2002) American writer, businessman, government official
Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society (1964)

Sometimes attributed to Jung. Variant: "Creative minds are seldom tidy."
Added on 26-Aug-11 | Last updated 26-Aug-11
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Tax reduction has an almost irresistible appeal to the politician, and it is no doubt also gratifying to the citizen. It means more dollars in his pocket, dollars that he can spend if inflation doesn’t consume them first. But dollars in his pocket won’t buy him clean streets or an adequate police force or good schools or clean air and water. Handing money back to the private sector in tax cuts and starving the public sector is a formula for producing richer and richer consumers in filthier and filthier communities. If we stick to that formula, we shall end up in affluent misery.

John W. Gardner (1912-2002) American writer, businessman, government official
The Recovery of Confidence (1970)
Added on 28-May-08 | Last updated 28-May-08
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