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Thomas Sowell on Charity vs. Entitlement Programs

thomas sowellIn his book THE QUEST FOR COSMIS JUSTICE, Sowell discusses the internal demand by many to forcibly equalize every inequality, even natural inequalities. Equality has become, not about processes and essence of humanity, but about final outcomes. Some pursue this form of “social justice,” with abandon, as if no cost is too high, even injury to all, reducing all to their lowest common denominators. He writes on pg 44:

“The very attractiveness of cosmic justice in the close personal relations and mutually felt reciprocal obligations within a family make it a seductive danger as a government policy of “entitlements” (implying no reciprocal obligations) in a large, impersonal society. The alternative to political crusades and government programs is not that we should “do nothing,” as it is sometimes thoughtlessly phrased. There has never been a moment in the entire history of the United States when nothing was being done to offset the undeserved misfortunes of the poor and the disadvantaged. …the period of the greatest opposition to the role of government in the economy in the nineteenth century was also a period of an unprecedented growth of private philanthropy. It was also a period of private social uplift efforts by volunteers all across America. Such efforts, incidentally, had a dramatic effect in reducing crime and other social ills such as alcoholism, so these were hardly ineffectual gestures. Indeed, they were far more effective than the more massive government-run programs that began in the 1960s.”

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