Saturday, 20 November 2010

Concerning charity and the state

I find myself posting a lot of quotes at the moment. I figure I might as well use the intellectual resources our civilisation has accrued over the years. Old Holborn is sniping at 'Children in Need', (which apparently took place last night) and what it supports, and this came to mind, which isn't concerned with charity per se, but rather the negation of charity by means of state intervention. However, this latter has not receded in the century since Sumner wrote, quite the contrary.
As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X or, in the better case, what A, Band C shall do for X. As for A and B, who get a law to make themselves do for X what they are willing to do for him, we have nothing to say except that they might better have done it without any law, 'but what I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man.
William Graham Sumner 'The Forgotten Man'

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