When is Helping not Helping?

Read this article about William Graham Sumner.

English: http://www.econ.duke.edu/Economists/ ...

English: http://www.econ.duke.edu/Economists/ Where he taught and where it says “Free use of these portraits in Web documents, and for other educational purposes, is encouraged: users are requested to acknowledge that the images come from “The Warren J. Samuels Portrait Collection at Duke University.”” Questions: collection’s director, Professor E. Roy Weintraub, at erw@econ.duke.edu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is so much truth in it about welfare and

charity that can’t be denied.

Vices=viciousness.  Vicious people have a lot of vices.

I have worked a long time with “at risk” people.  Of what are they at risk, you may ask?  They are at risk of ending up homeless and living in the street.  Sometimes, it’s through no fault of their own.  Most of the time, it’s because they have, in the past, or are likely, in the future to succumb to the end result of their vices.

We like to think that no one is ever at fault for the conditions in which they find themselves.  Truth is, people are almost always to blame or to be praised for where they end up in life.  That’s not to say that some aren’t presented with a lot more obstacles than others.  But, in this life, it is almost never the obstacles that define a person.  It is almost always how one confronts and overcomes those obstacles that determines how their life will be.

As the article points out, when we soften the landing for those who succumb to their vices, be they drunkenness, laziness, turpitude, gambling or what have you, we don’t allow them to hit rock bottom.  When we don’t allow the consequences of vice to be fully appreciated, we then lose the most powerful deterrent from behaviors that tear down society.  Without those deterrents in place, vice becomes something to envy, rather than avoid.  We end up with a society full of vicious people.

What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits

What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I include this last because this is the typical cast of Sumner – a social Darwinist.  This is due to his language of “survival of the fittest.”  But this term was misrepresented.  Subsequently, he ceased to use such rhetoric.  The truth is that those who adapt survive.  Many of our time have learned that one can survive by adapting to thrive, by industry and a life not dissipated with vice.  But one also may survive in a liberal nanny state by claiming to be unfit and then fixing to the teat of the state.  Thus, such talk of fitness becomes moot when there are two opposite standards by which to measure it.


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Filed under Economics/ Book Reviews, On Family, Health, Environment and Ethics, Open Mind

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