Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 13, 2014

in Seen and Unseen

… is from page 211 of the 1992 collection of some of William Graham Sumner’s best essays, On Liberty, Society, and Politics (Roger C. Bannister, ed.); specifically, this quotation is from Sumner’s famous 1883 essay “The Forgotten Man“:

When you see a drunkard in the gutter, you are disgusted, but you pity him.  When a policeman comes and picks him up you are satisfied.  You say that “society” has interfered to save the drunkard from perishing.  Society is a fine word, and it saves us the trouble of thinking to say that society acts.  The truth is that the policeman is paid by somebody, and when we talk about society we forget who it is that pays.  It is the Forgotten Man again.  It is the industrious workman going home from a hard day’s work, whom you pass without noticing, who is mulcted of a percentage of his day’s earnings to hire a policeman to save the drunkard from himself.


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