A reader labeled Tenkev writes:
I agree with much of this essay; but, I would like to point out an area where I disagree; or, rather, which you left out of you analysis.
As you pointed out, two of the main causes of poverty are unchastity and gluttony. Surely you are correct in this. There are also laziness, excessive risk-taking, lack of foresight, gullibility and foolishness. But it is not enough to say that most poverty is caused by sin and character flaws. We are responsible for our brothers in all their imperfection.
I think the problem is not that men are not capable of providing labor equal to the wage necessary to raise a family; as you say, most able-bodied men are; but, rather, that they are incapable of managing the rest of their lives. As the proverb says, a fool and his money are quickly departed. This is especially true today with the failure of modern culture to guide our lives reasonably.
The problem I see with our modern economic/political structure is the assumed absolute sovereignty for every-non criminal person. With maximum liberty comes maximum responsibility, and there is a great mass of people who cannot handle this level of responsibility. Not every man is noble. There is nothing shameful in admitting this. It is a fact of life. Now it is extremely important not to take this fact too far; but, it is also important to recognize it and plan for it. This means developing a hierarchical structure of power similar to a feudal power architecture; where those prone to foolish decision making have a loving, paternal, individual authority to guide their decisions (in a limited scope) and with this authority comes a responsibility for care in tough times and a claim to a small share of the labor in normal times.
My comment: It has been a long time since I have heard anyone make an argument in favor of hierarchical feudalism. I salute you for your boldness.
I am a Virginian, and so find myself in deep mistrust to any man who would place one class of man above another for any reason. Sic semper tyrannis, and all that, ya’ll. The only king to which we gentlemen of Virginia will ever bow is one that walks on water. Be damned to any man who says he is born my better, and be me damned if I say any man is born my lesser.
And yet I am haunted by the thought that in a Democracy, where all men are allegedly equal, it is merely Caesar, the state, the government, who ends up in the position of the feudal lord or the antebellum slaveowner, that is, the public welfare bureaucracy ends up running the lives of the poor, paying for their daily bread, taking their children away when need or whim arises, and (in the modern day) milking them for votes.
The modern poor man is in a much more favorable legal situation, but not a more favorable real-life situation as the serf or slave. Perhaps his situation is worse, because he lacks a personal relationship with his lord or owner: the modern welfare-serf must beg of the anonymous, cold-faced and impersonal institutions what he once sat before the gates of the rich man to beg of him.