Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday’s Quote: On the welfare state

c/o Frostburg State University
While Alexis de Tocqueville is best known for his two-volume work, Democracy in America, it is perhaps a more obscure effort that he composed around the time of Democracy’s initial release that speaks volumes about one of the key social issues plaguing the nation for which the French philosopher once wrote so glowingly.

Feel free to read this one lengthy sentence over and over again. Every word is as perfect as it is relevant to this day.


“But I am deeply convinced that any permanent, regular, administrative system whose aim will be to provide for the needs of the poor, will breed more miseries than it can cure, will deprave the population that it wants to help and comfort, will in time reduce the rich to being no more than the tenant-farmers of the poor, will dry up the sources of savings, will stop the accumulation of capital, will retard the development of trade, will benumb human industry and activity, and will culminate by bringing about a violent revolution in the State, when the number of those who receive alms will have become as large as those who give it, and the indigent, no longer being able to take from the impoverished rich the means of providing for his needs, will find it easier to plunder them of all their property at one stroke than to ask for their help.”
~ Alexis de Tocqueville, “Memoir on Pauperism: Does Public Charity Produce an Idle and Dependent Class of Society?” (1835)

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