Friday, January 22, 2010

Ben Franklin; Doing Good to the Poor

This excerpt from Ben is wandring around the web. It's interesting.

"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. 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. 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 dependence 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, in "The Works of Benjamin Franklin," by Jared Sparks, 1836, pg 358.


Sean said...

The Citation may be incorrect. I looked up the quote and found The Works of Benjamin Franklin at Google Books, but that quote cannot be found.

I did find the quote as being cited from The London Chronicle, November 29, 1766 but I haven't been able to verify it.

Stan said...

I got it out of Volume 2 of that book at googlebooks, on the page cited. The reference is mine, because I don't trust uncited quotes that get passed around the internet, like some famous Andy Rooney sayings that he never actually said. Perhaps you scanned only Volume 1? I just checked and it's still there.