Monday, August 19, 2013


"The federal government is there, carrying out various programs to assure that everybody will eat.  Under the circumstances, that is commendable.  But it is commendable only as a temporary expedient.  To be worthy of admiration in any final sense, government help will have to accomplish the result of making itself unnecessary.  It must be acknowledged by both the government and the people that the charity programs can do no more than the minimum - can only prevent starvation.  An agency or bureau or institution cannot exercise taste and judgment, cannot be motivated by love or compassion, cannot value a man for his industry or his art or his pride;  they are abstractions themselves and must deal with people as abstractions.
     "To give a man bread when he needs a tool is inept and unfeeling as to give him a stone when he needs bread, and this painful clumsiness is inherent in the generalizations of the social planners and the organized charities.  Their most "humane" endeavors almost necessarily involve an attitude toward humanity that debases it.  The tendency to deal with individual citizens exclusively in terms of the abstractions of their class or condition is to strike at the very foundation of American liberty, which was established to safeguard the possibility and the right of escape from such abstractions - the right to become exceptional."
-Wendell Berry, as excerpted from The Long-Legged House

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