"In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, 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. There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? — On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependance on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty."
Benjamin Franklin
(1706-1790) US Founding Father
On the Price of Corn, and Management of the Poor, London Chronicle, November 29, 1766
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Reader comments about this quote:
WOW ! ! ! We hold this truth to be self evident ! ! ! Proven through out history, over, and over, and over, and over again ! ! !
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 1
    Wow, of course he's right. He's was also a letch, a drunk and a whore-monger; does it mattrer that Marrion Barry and Rob Ford smoked crack? No. If their public platforms buit a stronger society. Send all the rest of those people to jail for the same crimes because their intent was far less ingenuous. Yeah. LOL
     -- L. Hanson, Edmonton, Canada     
    Dear old Ben missed the point. It wasn't charity. It was control. Still is.
     -- Glen, Bethel Park, PA, USA     
    Does anybody know what Ben here--> "The day you passed that act," What act? THAT IS MOST IMPORTANT?
     -- Walter Clark, Fullerton     
    He was apparently in London...so that is where to search for the Act.
     -- Abby     
    True then and more so in 2014.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
    Welcome to the welfare state. The poor man is taxed for a corner to die in. Lands are all acquired. In our country at one time, there was good enough ground to go around, home steading was the way. After the civil war, that all change. Some lost all to the tax man, came in from the north and stole it all away ! Now there is to much in to little hands. Remember they are on an island.
     -- Ron w13, Or     
    The honorable Mr. Franklin could as well have been speaking of America today. Though his wisdom is timeless, our own stupidity seems more pervasive. Our failure to know true, unrewritten, propagandized history will be our downfall if we are not very quick about remedying our mistakes.
     -- empty pockets, new orleans     
    I, too, have traveled extensively throughout the world and have admired those 'poor' people who had to take care of themselves because the government did not allocate funds for them. They worked hard, raised their own food, helped each other, traded with each other, shared what little they had with each other, and there was no shortage of smiles and laughter even though by 'Western' standards they were so poor, American unemployed welfare recipients lived like kings!

    Of course they couldn't live like that in the US -- imagine being allowed to raise chickens and hogs, grow your own tomatoes, collect rain water and catch fish without government permission -- if they had to observe the regulations imposed upon Americans, they would starve. These people have a completely different mindset than that of those 'entitled' to government funds. And those who persevere often do quite well for themselves and their families -- they buy bricks and build a little house for their daughter or buy a better boat or a truck. Being as humble as they are, they don't mortgage themselves into oblivion, they pay as they go and owe nothing to anyone. They may be 'poor' but they have honor and dignity. Very respectable indeed. I've met a lot of Americans along the way, too, that traded their mortgaged-strip-mall lives for the simple life in these 3rd world countries -- they said they never worked harder in their 'retirement' but wouldn't trade it for their old lives in the US.

    BTW health care costs in these countries are a fraction of what they are in the US (if anything at all) -- health insurance costs about $500 a year for those that want it, and there are plenty of charitable organizations that offer free health services to the poor, as well as more expensive hospitals for people who are willing to pay more.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 1
    Truth is never held captive by time.

     -- Allen, DC     
  • 2
     -- Al, No Hollywood      
     -- jim k, Austin      
    Don't feed the animals

    "Animals that are fed lose…their ability to forage on their own. They often become overly aggressive and completely dependent on handouts. They start to look skinny and sickly and develop begging behaviors, which exacerbates the cycle further as visitors feel sorry for them…."

     -- Durham, Birmingham,AL     
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