Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ben Franklin and Poor People

“I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

-Ben Franklin 

Easy for a bourgeoisie American to quote, one who has never missed a meal, right?

Would that make Franklin wrong, however?

Furthermore, Franklin would not have us overlook our obligation of "leading or driving" people out of poverty.  In fact, the quote begins with Franklin's declaration, "I am for doing good to the poor." He does not advocate ignoring them, but of assisting them in a particular and deliberate way, that is, in leading or even driving them out of their situation, but certainly in not enabling them to stay where they are.

This seems so obvious, but I am somehow compelled to say it.

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