The Founders’ Formula for “Calculated” Compassion

I am reading the 5000 Year Leap, Principles of Freedom 101.  Awesome book…I highly recommend it to everyone!  Ya’ know…I’ve been away from high school and any consistent study of history for a long time.  I find this book to be totally refreshing as well as an in depth study of the Founders of our nation with their great patience, wisdom, and foresight in putting our government in place.  The colonies took 60 ballots to try to reach consensus on just how to properly elect the president of the United States.  That tells me a lot…but I digress…

Let me share a bit of the wisdom from this book…first the words of Benjamin Franklin and then from the authors of The 5000 Year Leap:

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.

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:

1.  Do not help the needy completely.  Merely help them to help themselves.

2.  Give the poor the satisfaction of “earned achievement” instead of rewarding them without achievement.

3.  Allow the poor to climb the “appreciation ladder”–from tents to cabins, cabins to cottages, cottages to comfortable houses.

4.  Where emergency help is provided, do not prolong it to the point where it becomes habitual.

5.  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.—The 5000 Year Leap

My, how far we’ve strayed…

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