First of all, I want to credit the blog, Watching the Nation for collecting up some great data on how our Founding Fathers viewed the subject of compassion.
Let's consider a quote from Benjamin Franklin:
“To relieve the misfortunes of our fellow creatures is concurring with the Deity; it is godlike; but, if we provide encouragement for laziness, and support for folly, may we not be found fighting aginst the order of God and Nature, which perhaps has appointed want and misery as the proper punishments for, and cautions against, as well as necessary consequences of, idleness and extravagance? Whenever we attempt to amend the scheme of Providence, and to interfere with the government of the world, we had need be very circumspect, lest we do more harm than good.“
The following comes from 5000 Year Leap, Principles of Freedom 101 written by Cleo Skousen:
"Nearly all of the Founders seem to have acquired deep convictions that assisting those in need had to be done through means which might be called “calculated” compassion. Highlights from their writings suggest the following:
- Do not help the needy completely. Merely help them to help themselves.
- Give the poor the satisfaction of “earned achievement” instead of rewarding them without achievement.
- Allow the poor to climb the “appreciation ladder”–from tents to cabins, cabins to cottages, cottages to comfortable houses.
- Where emergency help is provided, do not prolong it to the point where it becomes habitual.
- Strictly enforce the scale of “fixed responsibility”. The first and foremost level of responsibility is with the individual himself; the second level is the family; then the church; next the community; finally the county, and in a disaster or emergency, the state. Under no circumstances is the federal government to become involved in public welfare. The Founders felt it would corrupt the government and also the poor. No Constitutional authority exists for the federal government to participate in charity or welfare."
Let me ask you a question: Before our country started providing welfare and entitlements to people, what did people do when they were in a tough bind? Did they wait for someone to bail them out? Did they get in line for a welfare check?
Or did they work as hard and long as they could to ensure they had the necessities of life.
Did every one in a tough bind succeed? No.
Did folks around them lend a hand? Yes.
But it wasn't enforced charity.
Our Founding Fathers were brilliant! Folks who try to pawn off on us that their writings and achievements should only be viewed in the light of present day (a living Constitution, for example) — these critics should open their eyes and look at what WORKS. They may also consider getting themselves a real job.