Monday, September 8, 2014

Benjamin Franklin Economics

"For my own part, I am not so well satisfied of the goodness of this thing. {gov’t mandated charity at the expense of farmers} 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 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. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday, and St. Tuesday, will cease to be holidays. SIX days shalt thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.”

—Benjamin Franklin “On the Price of Corn and the Management of the Poor,” London Chronicle, November 29, 1766; Writings 5:537


My daughter and I have been discussing the immigration issue that Texas has been facing as of late with the large influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico that are being carted over here by the thousands, yes you read that right-thousands. I personally have some very strong feelings about this issue, but that is not really the point of this post. From an education perspective we were looking at several things: effects on our welfare system, hospitals, government, jobs, housing, exports, education and law.

Exports-Ben was making an argument against the government forbidding the export of corn to keep the price of corn low. That is the context. It was a common thing for him (and others) to write arguments from the point of view of someone else as if they were that person. He writes this as if her were a farmer, which he was not, and as if he had traveled extensively in his youth to other countries, which he had not. He was not talking about corn though. He was using this argument also regarding  the "Management of the Poor." Warning about what he believes to be the consequences of socialistic fiscal policies. Many would agree with Ben. 

Martial Law-This is something that with our current "president" (I use the term very loosely) declaring Martial Law. We have already seen signs of this. In fact Obama has signed an executive order giving him the right to declare martial law any time he wants and I personally will be surprised if he does not do this sometime before the next election. Even more frightening he would also be able to suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This leads to two really fascinating options for Americans if Obama was to declare martial law. One we can accept out fate and let Obama rule or two we will have a second American Revolution. Under martial law certain civil liberties may be suspended, such as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom of association, and freedom of movement. And the writ of habeas corpus may be suspended (this writ allows persons who are unlawfully imprisoned to gain freedom through a court proceeding). Here is a very interesting article on this topic and what the President has already done to set up martial law: http://www.thecommonsenseshow.com/2013/10/11/the-three-stages-of-us-martial-law/
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