Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.


RE: The Administration of Justice--The Sole Function of Government.

"... 'the administration of justice' ... is the sole duty of the state. 'Justice' comprehends only the preservation of man's natural rights. Injustice implies a violation of those rights. No man ever thinks of demanding 'justice' unless he is prepared to prove that violation; and no body of men can pretend that 'justice' requires the enactment of any law, unless they can show that their natural rights would otherwise be infringed."

      Herbert Spencer, THE PROPER SPHERE OF GOVERNMENT (1843).

RE: What Should a Government Do?

"What ... do ... [men] want a government for? Not to regulate commerce; not to educate the people; not to teach religion; not to administer charity; not to make roads and railways; but simply to defend the natural rights of man--to protect person and property--to prevent the aggressions of the powerful upon the weak--in a word, to administer justice. This is the natural, the original, office of a government. It was not intended to less; it ought not to be allowed to do more."

      Herbert Spencer, THE PROPER SPHERE OF GOVERNMENT (1843).

RE: Public Aid ("Welfare")--Tax-Supported Programs of Government Assistance to the Poor.

"Can any individual, whose wickedness or improvidence has brought him to want, claim relief of his fellow-men as an act of justice? Can even the industrious labourer, whose distresses have not resulted from his own misconduct, complain that his natural rights are infringed, unless the legislature compels his neighbors to subscribe to his relief? Certainly not. Injustice implies a positive act of oppression, and no man or men can be charged with it, when merely maintaining a negative position. ... let us ... refer to a primitive condition of society, where all start with equal advantages. One part of the community is industrious and prudent, and accumulates property; the other, idle and improvident, or in some cases, perhaps, unfortunate. Can any one class fairly demand relief from the other? Can even those, whose poverty is solely the result of misfortune, claim part of the produce of the industry of others as a right? No. They may seek their commiseration; they may hope for their assistance; but they cannot take their stand upon the ground of justice. What is true of these parties, is true of their descendants; the children of the one class stand in the same relation to those of the other that existed between their parents, and there is no more claim in the fiftieth or sixtieth generation than in the first."

      Herbert Spencer, THE PROPER SPHERE OF GOVERNMENT (1843).

RE: Rights, Justice, & Economic Rewards.

"A freeman in a free democracy has no duty whatever toward other men of the same rank and standing, except respect, courtesy, and good will. In a free state every man is held and expected to take care of himself and his family, to make no trouble for his neighbor, and to contribute his full share to public interests and common necessities. If he fails in this he throws burdens on others. He does not thereby acquire rights against the others. On the contrary, he only accumulates obligations toward them; and if allowed to make his defficiencies a ground of new claims, he passes over into the position of a privileged or petted person--emancipated from duties, endowed with claims. This is the inevitable result of combining democratic political theories with humanitarian social theories."

"We each owe it to the other to guarantee rights. Rights do not pertain to results, but only to chances. They pertain to the conditions of the struggle for existence, not to any of the results of it; to the pursuit of happiness, not to the possession of happiness. It cannot be said that that each one has a right to have some property, because if one man had such a right some other man or men would be under a corresponding obligation to provide him with some property. Each has a right to acquire and possess property if he can. It is plain what fallacies are developed when we overlook this distinction. Those fallacies run through all socialistic schemes and theories. If we take rights to pertain to results, and then say that rights must be equal, we come to say that men have a right to be equally happy, and so on in all details. Rights should be equal, because they pertain to chances, all ought to have equal chances so far as chances are provided or limited by the action of society. This, however, will not produce equal results, but it is right just because it will produce unequal results--that is, results which shall be proportioned to the merits of individuals....

"If there be liberty, some will profit by the chances eagerly and some will neglect them altogether. Therefore, the greater the chances the more unequal will be the fortune of these two sets of men. So it ought to be, in all justice and right reason. The yearning after equality is the offspring of envy and covetousness, and there is no possible plan for satisfying that yearning which can do aught else than to rob A to give to B; consequently all such plans nourish some of the meanest vices of human nature, waste capital, and overthrow civilization...."

      William Graham Sumner, WHAT SOCIAL CLASSES OWE TO EACH
            OTHER (1883).

RE: Social Darwinism--Economic Rewards & Survival of the Fittest.

"... the assumption by a government of the office of Reliever-general to the poor ... is necessarily forbidden by the principle that a government cannot rightly do anything more than protect. In demanding from a citizen contributions [taxes] for the mitigation of distress--contributions not needed for the due administration of men's rights--the state is ... reversing its function, and diminishing that liberty to exercise the faculties which it was instituted to maintain. Possibly ... some will assert that by satisfying the wants of the pauper, a government is in reality extending his liberty to exercise his faculties.... But this statement implies a confounding of two widely-different things. To enforce the fundamental law--to take care that every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man--this is the special purpose for which the civil power exists. Now insuring to each the right to pursue within the specified limits the objects of his desires without let or hindrance, is quite a separate thing from insuring him satisfaction....

"Pervading all nature we may see at work a stern discipline, which is a little cruel that it may be very kind. That state of universal warfare maintained throughout the lower creation, to the great perplexity of many worthy people, is at bottom the most merciful provision which the circumstances admit of.... The poverty of the incapable, the distresses that come to the imprudent, the starvation of the idle, and those shoulderings aside of the weak by the strong, which leave so many 'in the shallows and in miseries,' are the decrees of a large, far-seeing benevolence. It seems hard that a labourer incapacitated by sickness from competing with his stronger fellows, should have to bear the resulting privations. It seems hard that widows and orphans should be left to struggle for life or death. Neverthe- less, when regarded not separately, but in connection with the interests of universal humanity, these harsh fatalities are seen to be full of the highest beneficience--the same beneficence which brings to early graves the children of diseased parents, and singles out the low-spirited, the intemperate, and the debilitated as the victims of an epidemic...."

      Herbert Spencer, SOCIAL STATICS (1851).

RE: Helping People.

"There is no use whatsoever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself."

      Andrew Carnegie.

RE: Private Charity--Should Christians Help the Poor?

"Some men say, 'Don't you sympathize with the poor people?' Of course I do.... ...I sympathize with the poor, but the number of poor who are to be sympathized with is very small. To sympathize with a man whom God has punished for his sins, thus to help him when God would continue a just punishment, is to do wrong, no doubt about it, and we do that more than we help those who are deserving. While we should sympathize with God's poor--that is, those who cannot help themselves--let us remember there is not a poor person in the United States who was not made poor by his own shortcomings, or by the shortcomings of some one else."

      Reverend Russell H. Conwell, "Acres of Diamonds," Lecture/
            Sermon, Westfield Methodist Church, Westfield,
            Massachusetts (1861).

RE: The Meaning of Civil Liberty.

"Civil liberty is the status of the man who is guaranteed by law and civil institutions the exclusive employment of all his own powers for his own welfare."

      William Graham Sumner, THE FORGOTTEN MAN (1883).

RE: Rights, Justice, & Tax-Supported Public Education.

"... a system of national instruction ... cannot be comprehended under the administration of justice. A man can no more call upon the community to educate his children, than he can demand that it shall feed and clothe them. And he may just as fairly claim a continual supply of material food, for their satisfaction of their bodily wants, as of intellectual food, for the satisfaction of their mental ones."

      Herbert Spencer, THE PROPER SPHERE OF GOVERNMENT (1843).

RE: Economic Competition, Wealth, Survival of the Fittest, & Human Progress.

"The price which society pays for the law of competition, like the price it pays for cheap comforts and luxuries, is great; but the advantages of this law are greater than the cost--for it is to this law that we owe our wonderful material development, which brings improved conditions in its train. But, whether the law be benign or not, we must say of it...: It is here; we cannot evade it; no substitutes for it have been found; and while the law may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race [i.e., the nation, the society, or, perhaps, the human species], because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department." We accept and welcome, therefore, as conditions to which we must accomodate ourselves, great inequality of environment, the concentration of business, industrial and commercial, in the hands of a few, and the law of competition between these, as being not only beneficial, but essential for the future progress of the race. Having accepted these, it follows that there must be great scope for the exercise of special ability in the merchant and in the manufacturer who has to conduct [business] affairs upon a great scale. That this talent for organization and management is rare among men is proved by the fact that it invariably secures for its possessor enormous rewards, no matter where or under what laws or conditions. The experienced in [business] affairs always rate the man whose services can be obtained as a partner as not only the first consideration, but such as to render the question of his capital scarcely worth considering, for such men soon create capital; while, without the special talent required, capital soon takes wings.... It is a[n economic] law ... that men possed of this peculiar talent for affairs, under the free play of economic forces, must, of necessity, soon be in receipt of more revenue than can be judiciously expended upon themselves; and this law is beneficial for the race as the others.

"Objections to the foundations upon which society is based are not in order, because the condition of the race is better with these than it has been with any others which have been tried. Of the effect of any substitutes we cannot be sure. The Socialist or Anarchist who seeks to overturn present conditions is to be regarded as attacking the foundation upon which civilization itself rests, for civilization took its start from the day that the capable, industrious workman said to his incompetent and lazy fellow, 'If thou dost not sow, thou shalt not reap,' and thus ended primitive Communism by separating the drones from the bees. One who studies this subject will soon be brought face to face with the conclusion that upon the sacredness of property civilization itself depends--the right of the laborer to his hundred dollars in the savings bank, and equally the legal right of the millionaire to his millions. To those who propose to substitute Communism for this intense Individualism the answer, therefore, is: The race has tried all that. All progress from that barbarous day to the present time has resulted from its displacement. Not evil, but common good, has come to the race from the accumulation of wealth by those who have the ability and energy to produce it.

"... Individualism, Private Property, the Law of Accumulation of Wealth, and the Law of Competion ... are the highest results of human experience, the soil in which society so far has produced the best fruit. Unequally or unjustly, perhaps, as these laws sometimes operate, and imperfect as they appear to the Idealist, they are, nevertheless, like the highest type of man, the best and most valuable of that humanity has yet accomplished."

      Andrew Carnegie, "The Gospel of Wealth," NORTH AMERICAN
            REVIEW (June, 1889).

RE: Civil Liberty, Economic Capital, & Human Inequality.

"For three hundred years now men have been trying to understand and realize liberty. Liberty is not the right or chance to do what we choose; there is no such liberty as that on earth. No man can do as he chooses....

"What we mean by liberty is civil liberty, or liberty under law; and this means the guran- tees of law that a man shall not be interfered with while using his own powers for his own welfare. It is, therefore, a civil and political status; and that nation has the freest institu- tions in which the guarantees of peace for the laborer and security for the capitalist are the highest. Liberty, therefore, does not by any means do away with the struggle for existence. What civil liberty does is to turn the competition of man with man from violence and brute force into an industrial competition under which men vie with one another for the acquisi- tion of material goods by industry, energy, skill, frugality, prudence, temperance, and other industrial virtues. Under this changed order of things the inequalities are not done away with. Nature still grants her rewards of having and enjoying, according to our being and doing, but it is now the man of the highest training and not the man of the heaviest fists who gains the highest reward. It is impossible that the man with capital and the man without capital should be equal. To affirm that they are equal would be to say that a man who has no tool can get as much food out of the ground as the man who has a spade or plough; or that the man who has no weapon can defend himself as well against hostile beasts or hostile men as the man who has a weapon. If that were so, none of us would work any more. We work and deny ourselves to get capital just because, other things being equal, the man who has it is superior, for attaining all the ends of life, to the man who has it not.

"... the popular antithesis between persons and capital is very fallacious. Every law or institution which protects persons at the expense of capital makes it easier for persons to live and to increase the numbers of consumers of capital while lowering all the motives to prudence and frugality by which capital is created. Hence every such law or institution tends to produce a large population, sunk in misery. All poor laws [public welfare meas- ures] and all eleemosynary institutions and expenditures [including those for private charity] have this tendency. On the contrary, all laws and institutions which give security to capital against the interests of other persons than its owners, restrict numbers while preserving the means of subsistence. Hence every such law or institution tends to produce a small society on a high stage of comfort and well-being. It follows that the antithesis commonly thought to exist between the protection of persons and the protection of property is in reality only an antithesis between numbers and quality."

      William Graham Sumner, "The Challenge of Facts" (1882).

RE: Government, Paper Currency, & Inflation.

"Government is the only agency that can take a useful commodity like paper, slap some ink on it, and make it totally worthless."

      Ludwig von Mises.

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