Going even further back in time, in the 18th century Adam Smith, the patron saint of free market economics, was discovered from records examined after his death to have privately made large charitable donations, far beyond what might have been expected from someone of his income level.
Helping those who have been struck by unforeseeable misfortunes is fundamentally different from making dependency a way of life.
Although the big word on the left is "compassion," the big agenda on the left is dependency.
he more people who are dependent on government handouts, the more votes the left can depend on for an ever-expanding welfare state.
Optimistic Republicans who say that widespread unemployment and record numbers of people on food stamps hurt President Obama's reelection chances are overlooking the fact that people who are dependent on government are more likely to vote for politicians who are giving them handouts.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood that, back during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He was reelected in a landslide after his first term, during which unemployment was in double digits every single month, and in some months was over 20 percent.
The time is long overdue for optimistic Republicans to understand what FDR understood long ago, and what Barack Obama clearly understands today.
Dependency pays off in votes — unless somebody alerts the taxpayers who get stuck with the bill.
The Obama administration is shamelessly advertising in the media — on billboards and television — for people to get on food stamps. Welfare state bureaucrats have been sent into supermarkets to tell shoppers that food stamps are available.
The intelligentsia have for decades been promoting the idea that there should be no stigma to accepting government handouts. Living off the taxpayers is portrayed as a "right" or — more ponderously — as part of a "social contract."
You may not recall signing any such contract, but it sounds poetic and high-toned.
Moreover, it wins votes among the gullible, and that is the bottom line for welfare state politicians.
Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. His website is www.tsowell.com.