The Quote by James Madison on Welfare:
“Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” – James Madison on Welfare
James Madison was an incredibly prescient political scholar and theorist, as were the other Founding Fathers. His quotations on the real power of government and what conditions allow tyranny to happen are ones that every American should remember.
If we lose sight of from whom the government derives its power (us), then soon it will run amok and begin tyrannizing us or seizing ever greater amounts of power. But, while those above quotes of James Madison are well-worth reading and understanding, they aren’t the only quotes of his that are memorable or significant. In fact, the quote by James Madison on welfare is equally important, if not more so.
If “rugged individualists” could be accurately categorically applied to any generation, that generation would be the one the Founding Fathers came from. They began the process of taming the Western frontier, defeated a superpower, built a nation that has lasted for hundreds of years, and delegated power back to the citizens of their new nation rather than keeping it for themselves because they wanted to be like Cinncinatus rather than Caesar.
And, perhaps most importantly, they desired liberty above all else. If only my generation, Gen Z, could live up to that ideal. I think young conservatives can start to do so by reading quotes such as this one by James Madison on welfare.
So, it makes sense that the Founding Fathers, a very independent group of men, had strong feelings about what we now call welfare. Benjamin Franklin pointed out that the problem with welfare is that it creates a nation of lazy moochers. The advent of “democratic socialism” as a political force in America shows that notion to be true, as does the clamoring for free college and Medicare for All. The likes of the completely incompetent AOC think only in terms of seizing money, not making it. They need to rediscover America’s capitalist roots by reading The Wealth of Nations.
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And that brings me to my main point, which is that this quote by James Madison on welfare perfectly summarizes the conservative argument against welfare. He’s not saying charity is a bad thing, nor are any conservatives, other than perhaps a few radical libertarians. It is voluntary and a good way to help those in need. Nothing wrong with that! But government-provided welfare, on the other hand, is an evil act and policy program that we should destroy immediately, which is something I think the Founding Fathers would agree with, as shown by this quote by James Madison on welfare.
Why is that so? Well, first off, this quote by James Madison on welfare is exactly right; the government has no business in engaging in charity. The proper role of government is to uphold the rule of law and protect (not grant) citizens’ natural rights. Not engage in forced wealth redistribution that steals from the productive rich and gives to the lazy poor.
The second reason is that a mandatory welfare system is inherently unjust. Liberals decry capitalism as being the “ideology of greed,” but they have it exactly backward; socialism is. It’s not greed to want to keep what you make. That’s justice. It is greed to demand that your employer pay you a higher minimum wage even though you’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve higher wages. That’s compulsion and it’s unjust. Remember that Equal is Unfair, not unequal is unfair.
Similarly, greed is apparent in all those who demand the forced redistribution of wealth. They didn’t earn that money, someone else did. That just further reinforces Madison’s point. The government has no business curtailing the rights of some of its citizens and stealing their property through unconstitutional wealth taxes in order to subsidize the lives of those who have no skills or work ethic. Those taxes are unjust, bad for the economy, and erode good-faith and goodwill in society.
Finally, Madison’s argument is important to understand fully because of one word he uses: “legislative.” That word is a reminder through the ages that the only constitutional way for our government to implement policies is through Congressional legislation. Not executive orders. Not through agencies like the DEA or ATF (both of which happen to also have unconstitutional agendas that should be treated as anathema to liberty). And certainly not through back-room deals in corrupt organizations like the FBI.
No, Americans should only have to follow rules put into law by a proper vote in both chambers of Congress. While that’s a bit off-topic in regard to welfare, the main focus of this Madison quotation, it is an important aspect that needs to be duly recognized and understood.
I hope this quote by James Madison on welfare left you better informed about what the Founding Brothers would have thought about our current welfare system and why they would have been so unambiguously against the welfare state. In my view, they would have hated it. It is entirely premised on theft and undue restrictions of liberty on some to make up for the shortcomings of the lazy and irresponsible. The Founders were individualists who believed strongly in personal responsibility. They would despise our welfare system.