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Government Providing for the Poor

Uploaded by KyraDean on Oct 29, 2002

“In the Middle Ages men were united by custom and prescription into associations, ranks, guilds, and communities of various kinds. These ties endured as long as life lasted. Consequently, society was dependant, throughout all its details, on status, and the tie, or bond, was sentimental. In out modern state, and in the United States more than anywhere else, the social structure is based on contract, and status is of the least importance.” This quote by William Graham Sumner in his 1883 speech “What Social Classes Owe to Each Other” illustrates my main focus of this week’s proposed question, “Does American Government have an obligation to provide for the poor?” Sumner supports that the American Government does not have an obligation to provide for the poor because in America, all people have the opportunity to work hard and bring themselves out of poverty, where in Europe and their other native lands, people were trapped in a caste system in which they could not escape. In America, there was is a defined class system in which those living in the society were confined and hard work, followed by success, is a luxury offered in America. By living in a free state like America, Sumner says, its citizens live equally among one another in a society based on a contract, which allows the most leeway for individual developments and successes. Every man must fend for himself in this society that allows for personal establishment. Sumner also says, “It follows, however, that one man, in a free state, cannot claim help from, and cannot be charged to give help to, another.” He directly says that it cannot be imposed upon the American Government that hard-working tax-paying citizens should have to financially assist the plight of the poor. The Populist Party Platform of 1892 says in its second declaration that “Wealth belongs to him that creates it…If any will not work, neither shall he eat.” The Populist Party realized that men were fully entitled to their earned keep and should they not work, they should not be provided for by the government, especially not by collected tax money.

Sumner goes on to say that those who rely on the support of the government become so dependent that welfare inevitably produces lazy citizens. He says, “The man who has nothing to raise himself above poverty finds that the social doctors flock about him, bringing the capital which...

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Uploaded by:   KyraDean

Date:   10/29/2002

Category:   American History

Length:   3 pages (578 words)

Views:   1462

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