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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 97 of David Kelley’s 1998 book, A Life of One’s Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State:

In moral terms, welfare programs amount to compulsory Good Samaritanism.  Suppose it were argued that, out of compassion for those in need, every citizen should be compelled to work seven hours per week as a “volunteer” in a hospital, poverty center, or institution for the disabled.  (Seven hours is 17.5 percent of a 40-hour work week and represents about the same proportion of taxable income that goes to support the welfare state.)  In the sphere of private philanthropy, after all, people do contribute their time as well as their money.  If government programs are simply a collective way to organize charitable activities, why not compel both sorts of contributions?  Why not support welfare programs through a kind of “draft” as well as through taxes?  Such proposals have in fact been made from time to time, usually in the form of national service requirements for the young.  Such proposals illustrate the same principle as compulsory Good Samaritanism: by compelling a form of involuntary servitude, they negate the individual’s right to his own life.