'The Times' conducted
a survey of middle-class people in 1895, asking them how much they gave
to charity. They donated 10 per cent of their income. How much do people
now generally pay? Less than 1 per cent. Charitable giving in Victorian
Britain was enormous. It was worth more than the revenues of several European
governments put together. The working and artisan classes gave to charity
too. For all the preening and national congratulation that goes on during
the annual Children in Need appeal, charity in Britain is now chicken-feed
compared with what it was. Where did all London’s top teaching hospitals
come from? Charity. The NHS had not even been thought of when they were
created. Where did the grammar schools come from? They certainly weren’t
created by the welfare state. They were formed by charity.
The decency culture
that preceded the welfare state was everywhere — even in the stories that
children read. It is as if people feel that the need for them to be decent
is satisfied by the payment of taxes. This liberates them to be wholly
selfish. The concept of decency and real — rather than politicised — social
solidarity has gone out of the window. It shows in many ways. Traditional,
conservative decency has been extracted from the culture by the all-enveloping
welfare state — a state which, without intending to, has encouraged lying,
cheating and lone-parenting, while discouraging saving, generosity and
- James Bartholemew, author of "The Welfare State We're In", "The Spectator"
Welfare's purpose should
be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.
- Ronald Reagan, 1970.
"I don’t believe the
stereotype, after what we did, of people in need who are there [on welfare]
simply because they prefer to be there. We found the overwhelming majority
would like nothing better than to be out, with jobs for the future, and
out here in the society with the rest of us. The trouble is, again, that
bureaucracy has them so economically trapped that there’s no way they can
get away. And they’re trapped because that bureaucracy needs them as a
clientele to preserve the jobs of the bureaucrats themselves."
- Ronald Reagan (1980)
"I know why he’s so
interested in poverty. He never had any when he was a kid."
- Ronald Reagan, about Senator Ted Kennedy (1980)
America is the land
of opportunity, not the land of free lunch.
- Sean McDermott
"Though the people
support the Government, the Government should not support the people."
- Grover Cleveland
"Man, no doubt, owes
many other moral duties to his fellow men; such as to feed the hungry,
clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, protect the
defenseless, assist the weak, and enlighten the ignorant. But these are
simply moral duties, of which each man must be his own judge, in each particular
case, as to whether, and how , and how far, he can, or will perform them."
- Lysander Spooner
"The first requisite
of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and
willing to pull his weight."
- Theodore Roosevelt
"When a government
makes it more attractive to ride in the wagon than pull it, those pulling
get frustrated and discouraged, while the wagon load gets heavier."
- from The Cookie Jar
"Nature smiles at the
union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality
are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.
Leave men free, and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically,
as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire.
To check the growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed, as in Russia
after 1917. Even when repressed, inequality grows; only the man who is
below the average in economic ability desires equality; those who are conscious
of superior ability desire freedom, and in the end superior ability has
- Will Durant
"The tremendous increase
in employment has done more to alleviate poverty than anything any government
welfare programme has done or could ever do. Each personal story of leaving
poverty behind is also a story of justice delivered."
- Mary Harney, overseeing Ireland's "Celtic Tiger" as Minister for Enterprise
"It never fails to
amaze me that so many people fall victim to the politics of envy. Show
them a plan that would give tax credits for anyone who provides food, clothing,
or shelter to a poor or homeless person, and instead of sharing your vision
of a society where poverty and homelessness have vanished completely, they'll
complain that the plan will benefit some rich people who receive the tax
"I'm not on this earth
to make sure that other people aren't uncomfortable."
Don't go around saying
the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
- Mark Twain
The core of what we call
welfare itself was originally intended to help the widows of poor coal
miners but it became something very different over time: an incentive for
women to have children out of wedlock.
Show them a plan that
would make a wide range of choices of high-quality education no longer
the exclusive domain of the Beverly Hills set but instead within the easy
reach of even the poorest family, and instead of sharing your vision of
millions of poor children finally receiving a decent education (and, not
incidentally, hundreds of thousands of teachers who are finally empowered
to do what they love: teach), and they will complain that some of those
Beverly Hills types might take a few of the dollars home with them.
Why should a poor
minority child should be refused the chance to learn how to read a good
book, just to satisfy an ideology which says he can't be helped because
it might also benefit the rich?"
- Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"
of wealth has never worked in the past and will not in the future. It sets
up a standard of grievance. It says, "You're successful, can I steal from
you?" What you want is a standard of achievement. "How do I get to be successful,
too?" You either have a system where you say, "Would you like to learn
how to be rich, would you like to learn how to be successful?" Or you have
a system where you say, "Well, you really ought to feel envy and resentment,
so let's see if we can mug them."
- Newt Gingrich
Indeed, the very worst
thing which you can do for generational indigence is to reward it with
large amounts of unearned money, for even the most innumerate of people
can work out the simple arithmetic of being paid to stay in bed. What do
you do? You stay in bed.
- Kevin Myers
You have no more right
to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without
- George Bernard
If wishes were horses,
beggars might ride.
- English proverb
To admit poverty is no
disgrace for a man; but, to make no effort to escape it is indeed disgraceful.
- Thucydides, "History
of the Peloponnesian War" (c. 413 B.C.)
We did not accept anyone's
support without paying for it. Instead, we worked and toiled; we kept working
day and night so as not to be an expense to any of you. We did this, not
because we do not have the right to demand your support; we did it to be
an example for you to follow. While we were with you we used to tell you,
'Whosoever refuses to work is not allowed to eat.'
3: 8-10, Good News Version
There is no virtue in
compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it.
A politician who portrays himself as "caring" and "sensitive" because he
wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that
he's willing to try to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't?
And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that
he'll do good with his own money - if a gun is held to his head.
- Pj O'Rourke, "How
to Explain Conservatism"
When you subsidize poverty
and failure, you get more of both.
- James Dale Davidson,
"National Taxpayers Union"
Any society that focuses
on wealth redistribution over wealth creation will soon find itself with
very little wealth.
MORALITY OF TAXATION
Every man has a property in his own person. This
nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work
of his hands are properly his.
~ John Locke, 1690
All tax revenue is the
result of holding a gun to somebody's head. Not paying taxes is against
the law. If you don't pay your taxes you'll be fined. If you don't pay
the fine, you'll be jailed. If you try to escape from jail, you'll be shot.
Thus, I - in my role as citizen and voter - am going to shoot you - in
your role as taxpayer - if you dont pay your share of the national tab.
Therefore, every time the government spends money on anything, you have
to ask yourself, "Would I kill my kindly, gray-haired mother for this?"
In the case of defence
spending, the argument is simple : "Come on, Ma, everybody's in this together.
If those Canadian hordes come down over the border, we'll all be dead meat.
In the case of helping
cripples, orphans and blind people, the argument is almost as persuasive
: "Mother, I know you dont know these people from Adam, but we've got 5000
years of Judeo-Christian-Muslim-Buddhist-Hindu-Confucian-animist-jungle-God
morality going here. Fork over the dough."
But day care doesnt
fly : "You're paying for the next-door neighbour's baby-sitter, or its
curtains for you, Mom."
- Pj O'Rourke, "Parliament
"To lay with one hand
the power of government on the property of a citizen, and with the other
to bestow it on favored individuals... is none the less robbery because
it was done under the forms of law and is called taxation."
- Justice Miller,
US Supreme Court, 1874.
"What's *just* has been
debated for centuries but let me offer you my definition of social justice:
I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then
tell me how much of what I earn *belongs* to you -- and why?"
- Walter Williams
"Why should government
deprive the successful of the fruits of their success, or even the fortunate
of their good fortune, just because others do not enjoy the same?"
"Mr. President, if we
spend borrowed money our children will have to be taxed to repay, does
this not violate the principle 'No taxation without representation'?"
Our forefathers made one
mistake. What they should have fought for was representation without taxation.
- Fletcher Knebel
Supreme Court Justice
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "Taxation is the price we pay for civilization."
But isn’t the opposite really the case? Taxation is the price we pay for
failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater
the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete
defeat for a civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents
its ultimate success.
- Mark Skousen
Libertarians do not advocate
the initiation of force, fraud, or theft to achieve social or political
goals. If you refuse to contribute to my favorite charity, and I took your
money at gunpoint anyway, I'd be stealing from you. Similarly, if I vote
for taxes to force you to contribute to that charity through taxes, I'm
asking the government to take your money - at gunpoint, if necessary.
- PJ O'Rourke, "Parliament
Politicians never accuse
you of Greed for wanting other people's money : Only for wanting to keep
your own money.
- Joseph Sobran
"In the current political
vocabulary, 'Need' means wanting to get someone else’s money. 'Greed',
which used to mean what 'Need' now means, has come to mean wanting to keep
your own. 'Compassion' means the politician’s willingness to facilitate
- Joseph Sobran
"Taking somebody's money
without permission is stealing, unless you work for the IRS; then it's
- Robert Anson Wilson
Taxes are not levied for
the benefit of the taxed.
- Lazarus Long, from
Robert Heinlein's "Time Enough for Love"
Wealth belongs to him
who creates it, and every dollar taken from industry without an equivalent,
is robbery. If they will not work, neither shall they eat.
- Populist Party
of America, (1892 )
To say that taxation is
merely theft is to understate the issue, and to downplay the truth. A thief,
in most cases, strikes a given victim very few times, most often only once.
And a typical thief does not try to convince the victim that it's her patriotic
duty to submit to the theft, or that it's for "the good of all" (those
who apologize for taxation are normally reluctant to say "for the good
of the collective" which means, of course, for the good of those who wield
Taxation is far greater
an evil than theft. It is a form of slavery. If you cannot choose the disposition
of your property, you are a slave. If you must ask permission to work,
and/or pay involuntary tribute to anyone from your wages, you are a slave.
If you are not allowed to dispose of your life (another way of defining
money, since it represents portions of your time and effort, which is what
your life is composed of) in the time, manner and amount of your choosing,
you are a slave.
- Rick Tompkins,
The Libertarian, August 24, 1997
Under Ted Heath, the British
government began paying more money to those on invalidity benefit than
those on unemployment benefit. It was thought that the number of invalids
was a “given”. A change in the rules, in this case more money, changed
behaviour. It attracted people to this benefit so the number of “invalids”
soared by more than 600,000 in the next few decades. When governments started
giving priority to lone mothers on council housing waiting lists, they
thought the rate of teenage pregnancy was a “given”. But again the rule
applied: subsidised housing, plus increased cash benefits, made lone parenting
less unattractive. Result: Britain became the teenage pregnancy capital
of the world. The government changed the rules on housing, too. Many people
were given council accommodation instead of renting or buying in the private
sector. The government thought quality housing was a “given”, but it wasn’t.
The designers of council houses now needed to please the council officials
commissioning the tower blocks, not the future residents. So they designed
in a different way, a way that proved disastrous. Once again, a change
in the rules of the game affected behaviour. Many of those who have framed
the welfare state have not understood this.
- James Bartholemew, author of "The Welfare State We're In", "The Times"
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