Website owner: James Miller
Is it prudent for society to attempt to shield the fool from the consequences of his own foolishness? The welfare state has as its goal helping those who need help. A noble goal. But often the people needing help are in trouble of their own making. They are sleeping in the beds that they themselves have made. There are those who find themselves in need through no fault of their own. They have been unlucky in some way or another and find themselves temporarily in need of help. There are many people who would like to help such people. However, the vast majority of people who are being supported by our welfare system are not in this category. Instead they are in need of help because of their own foolish actions, immoral conduct, laziness or irresponsible behavior. A person cannot manage his money. He squanders his money on foolish buying and ends up destitute along with the rest of his family. Should the state come in and save him (and his family) from his foolish ways by providing him with assistance in the form of food, shelter and money? A person is lazy and doesn't want to work. Should the state come in and save him and his family by providing him with all the necessities of life? A single woman leads a wanton, licentious life, bears one illegitimate child after another, and is unable to hold a job. Should the state come to her aid by supporting her and her children the rest of her life? The lazy child doesn't study in school and then isn't fit for the work world when he reaches adulthood. Should the state then come to his rescue and support him? Is it prudent for the state to try to save the foolish from the consequences of their foolishness? In the animal world the foolish rabbit that doesn't keep his eyes open for the fox gets eaten and the foolish squirrel that doesn't store up food for winter starves to death. In the natural world the consequences of foolishness is harsh. The fate of the foolish acts as a warning to the rest. It teaches a lesson on the harsh consequences of foolishness. Most people do not find themselves in want because of a single incident, mistake or wrong action. They find themselves in want because of a series of wrong actions over a period of time i.e. repeated wrong action, wrong habits. They have dug their own hole through foolish, irresponsible or immoral behavior that has become a permanent part of their character. People get into bad situations because of bad habits, wrong ways of thinking, bad traits of character, etc. (e.g. laziness, drinking, drug use, wantonness, profligacy). It is habits, attitudes, outlooks, values, traits of character that take people up into success and happiness or pull them down into defeat and want. Should it be an object of government to save people from their own self-destructive habits and foolishness? Is it a sensible and practical objective for government to set for itself? Is it right to ask the rest of society to support this sort of thing? The natural consequence of foolish action is destruction. Should the government be meddling with this basic natural law? What are the consequences of such meddling? Left alone the working of the natural law provides stark images that exhorts the rest of humanity to caution, prudence and virtue. When the danger is stark and real people take notice and modify their conduct. The welfare state is like a "big daddy" who rescues his child whenever he gets himself into trouble. If the child never has to face any consequences for bad or foolish conduct he doesn't develop good conduct and good character. He becomes spoiled and irresponsible. If you shield the foolish from the consequences of foolishness don't you encourage more foolishness? Isn't paying the proper price for foolishness an important part to learning prudence, caution and responsibility --- an important part in the development of character? Laziness brings consequences. Irresponsibility brings consequences. Profligacy brings consequences. Wantonness, immoral and licentious living brings consequences. Should the state shield the individual from the consequences of these kinds of conduct? By removing the risks and dangers associated with wrong or foolish conduct doesn't the state encourage wrong or foolish conduct? A large share of humanity will be as irresponsible, immoral and bad as it is allowed to be. If you shield people from the consequence of their own foolish actions won't a small stream of foolishness become a river of foolishness and won't a river of foolishness become a flood of foolishness that engulfs the entire society? June 1996
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