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Millicent Fenwick

  • Good behavior is everybody's business, and good taste can be everyone's goal.

  • Like life and people, it is full of paradoxes. Etiquette is based on tradition, and yet it can change. Its ramifications are trivialities, but its roots are in great principles.

  • What we do stems directly from what we believe.

  • Any change in customs ... takes generations to accomplish, and must come about by general consent. Even a superficial study of sociology shows the futility of past efforts to make a lasting change in manners by an act of will or authority.

  • A code of behavior is an inevitable part of life in any community, and if we hadn't inherited ours, we should have had to invent one.

  • The essence of good taste is a sense of values, and a sense of values is the pivotal point of good living.

  • One of the keys to our present definition of good taste is that it is better to be kind than to be 'correct.' There is no situation in which it is smart to be nasty.

  • Women are on the outside when the door to the smoke-filled room is closed.

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • in Esquire ()
  • What can the people think when, thanks to disclosure, the slimy trail from the contribution to the vote can be so easily traced?

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • in The Washington Post ()
  • If there is one thing the past years have taught us, it is the importance of a keen and high sense of honor in those who handle our governmental affairs.

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • You give bureaucrats power over others, and when the others are poor and helpless, nothing matches government. More than any single exploitive tyrannical force, the possibility of what government can do is absolutely terrifying.

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • in Peggy Lamson, In the Vanguard: Six American Women in Public Life ()
  • I would like to see ... an entirely different procedure which is that we vote on the budget and decide how much we are going to spend, first, the way any family does, and then fit our priorities into what we think we have to spend. Instead, what we do, is to do it incrementally, starting at the bottom, adding and adding and adding. ... Until we get the support of all the authorities in this House to decide, first, what we think this country can afford and then decide where the amount is going to be allocated, we will never have common sense in this House.

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • Congressional Record ()
  • When two working people decide to marry, their federal income tax is usually increased. As soon as one spouse earns at least 20 percent of a married couple's total income, the couple pays a 'marriage tax.' ... The United States is the only major industrialized nation in the free world in which the tax cost of the second [married] earner's entry into the work force is higher than that of the first. On one hand, our government's social policy is to help working women earn equal salaries to those of men, but on the other we have a tax structure that penalizes them when they do so.

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • The Philadelphia Bulletin ()
  • The curious fascination in this job is the illusion that either you are being useful or you could be — and that's so tempting.

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • 60 Minutes, CBS-TV ()
  • Economics is not a science, in the sense that a policy can be repeatedly applied under similar conditions and will repeatedly produce similar results.

  • I have come to believe that the one thing people cannot bear is a sense of injustice. Poverty, cold, even hunger, are more bearable than injustice.

  • Everyone in America seems to be joining an organization of some kind, and in Congress one hears from them all.

  • The only people who should be in government are those who care more about people than they do about power.

  • One longs for a voice in the middle, and the mail often brings such balanced and refreshing views. In fact, the overwhelming majority of those who write me belong to this sensible persuasion — able to see a little right and a little wrong on both sides of many questions.

  • In our times, significantly, the three outstanding voices against violence have been silenced by murder — Mahatma Gandhi in India, Archbishop Romero in El Salvador, and Dr. Martin Luther King, here at home.

  • There is hardly a facet of life that is now free of some sort of federal action.

  • The money that is spent in elections is absolutely unconscionable — even if it's private money. It's true that one's not corrupted by the expenditure of one's own money, but to some extent the system is. We cannot have a system in which the only people you can count on for a vote that doesn't look as though it might be a vote for a special-interest group are people with enormous fortunes.

  • We simply cannot continue to live with a [tax] system which has so many inequities. It must be changed in such a way that each of us pays a fair share of the burden. It has been said that one man's loophole is another man's livelihood. Even if this is true, it certainly is not fair, because the loophole-livelihood of those who are reaping undeserved benefits can be the economic noose of those who are paying more than they should.

  • There are two almost irresistible attractions in a job in Congress. The first is the hope of being useful in bringing about some improvement both in the congressional system itself and in society in general. The second is the opportunity it provides for direct action on behalf of individuals. These are the two faces of elective office — legislation, which is broad and general in scope, and individual cases, which are specific and particular. And it has been my experience that in Congress the second half of the job is the effort to protect the individual against the rules and regulations and, above all, against the indifference of the federal agencies.

  • We must have government, but we must watch them like a hawk.

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • in Reader's Digest ()
  • Never feel self-pity, the most destructive emotion there is. How awful to be caught up in that terrible squirrel cage of self.

    • Millicent Fenwick
  • When you're old, everything you do is sort of a miracle.

    • Millicent Fenwick
  • [After a speech proposing the ERA to the New Jersey State Assembly:] One of my colleagues rose and ... said, 'I just don't like this amendment; I've always thought of women as kissable and cuddly and smelling good!' It was the kind of thing you really don't believe. The only answer, of course, was, 'That's the way I've always felt about men and I hope, for your sake, that you haven't been disappointed as often as I have.

    • Millicent Fenwick,
    • in Jean Stafford, Vogue ()

Millicent Fenwick, U.S. politician

(1910 - 1992)

Full name: Millicent Vernon Hammond Fenwick.