Early Warning


Observations concerning the failure of the “welfare State” by Nassau Senior, English economist (1790-1864), based on a visit in France about 1850.

Men, whose reasoning faculties are either uncultivated, or per­verted by their feelings or their imaginations, see the great power of the State, and do not perceive its limits. They see it disposes of great resources, and do not per­ceive how easily these resources may be not only exhausted but dried up. They are struck by the contrast between great superfluity and great indigence, between lives shortened by indolence and lives shortened by toil, by wealth squandered unproductively while cultivable lands lie waste and la­bourers ask in vain for employ­ment. When excited by such a spectacle, what is more natural than to propose laws, by which the toil which appears to them exces­sive shall be forbidden, by which the government shall provide the strong with employment and the weak with relief; and obtain the necessary funds, partly from the superfluity of the rich, and partly by taking possession of the pro­ductive instruments which their present owners are too idle or too timid to turn to the best advan­tage? It requires a long train of reasoning to show that the capital on which the miracles of civiliza­tion depend is the slow and pain­ful creation of the economy and enterprise of the few, and of the industry of the many, and is de­stroyed, or driven away, or pre­vented from arising, by any causes which diminish or render insecure the profits of the capitalist, or deaden the activity of the labour­er; and that the State, by reliev­ing idleness, improvidence, or mis­conduct from the punishment, and depriving abstinence and foresight of the reward, which have been provided for them by nature, may indeed destroy wealth, but most certainly will aggravate poverty.

Journals Kempt in France and Italy from 1848 #52.


August 1971

comments powered by Disqus


* indicates required
Sign me up for...


July/August 2014

The United States' corporate tax burden is the highest in the world, but innovators will always find a way to duck away from Uncle Sam's reach. Doug Bandow explains how those with the means are renouncing their citizenship in increasing numbers, while J. Dayne Girard describes the innovative use of freeports to shield wealth from the myriad taxes and duties imposed on it as it moves around the world. Of course the politicians brand all of these people unpatriotic, hoping you won't think too hard about the difference between the usual crony-capitalist suspects and the global creative elite that have done so much to improve our lives. In a special tech section, Joseph Diedrich, Thomas Bogle, and Matthew McCaffrey look at various ways these innovators add value to our lives--even in ways they probably never expected.
Download Free PDF