Sunday, March 4, 2012

The state has a duty to diminish or eliminate the inefficient, and prevent multiplication of the breed

Royal Meeker, who was an advisor and long time ally(details, see chapter 4) to Woodrow Wilson, wrote the following: (page 544)
In M. Colson's view the poor are poor through their own laziness, inability or thriftlessness; the rich are rich because of their own or their ancestors' virtues. The laws of property and of inheritance are almost above criticism. Any attempt to ameliorate the condition of those living at or below the minimum of subsistence must result in such an increase of the poorer classes that the result will inevitably be a larger number of miserable wretches living at or below the margin of starvation (volume i, pages 378 et seq.). This out-Malthuses Malthus; for the English economist, in the later editions of his Essay on Population, modified drastically the original rigor of his reasoning. In his second volume, treating of labor and labor problems, M. Colson somewhat abates the severity of his laisser-faire theories but in a way that will meet with the disapproval of many economists. Speaking of the evils of the sweating system, he admits the mischief of wages below the minimum of subsistence, of unsanitary workrooms and of excessively long hours. But all these evils come about because the workers, male and female, are unskilled, ignorant and superabundant. The remedy for these conditions is not a minimum wage, but a contribution by the state, sufficient, when added to his meager earnings, to enable the underpaid and irregularly employed worker to eke out a livelihood. The choice for these poor wretches is between underpaid work and no work at all. The state should not support them wholly but should make up the difference between their actual wage and a living wage. It seems to the reviewer that all experience has shown that this is the worst "solution" that can possibly be found for this hard social problem. This is the "solution" which was tried for so many years in England, with such disastrous results. It is much better to enact a minimum wage law, even if it deprives these unfortunates of work. Better that the state should support the inefficient wholly and prevent the multiplication of the breed than subsidize incompetence and unthrift, enabling them to bring forth after their kind. M. Colson says nothing of the duty of the state to provide manual and technical training for those born under its sovereignty, to the end that the inefficient may be diminished or eliminated. One cannot avoid thinking that the great French economist seeks to exonerate individual enterprisers from the charge of extortion by an appeal to vague general theories which have no applicability to the case under discussion.

I think this is poorly written. First, who is M. Colson?(a commenter has brought to my attention that "M" could mean monsieur, which would make sense) I searched for the title of the book he is responding to is "Cours d'Economie Politique, by C. Colson", and searching online, the author's name is indeed Clement Colson, from what I can see. Further, the last few lines is mainly what caught my eye. But at first, it's not immediate as to if he's objecting to Colson's eugenic view, or lack therof. This is nasty, and it requires a bit of insight into the mind of a progressive in order to properly interpret this. As was written in the New Republic in 1916:

Imbecility breeds imbecility as certainly as white hens breed white chickens; and under laissez-faire imbecility is given full chance to breed, and does so in fact at a rate far superior to that of able stocks.

This explains why those who are even more well versed in progressivism than I am, attribute these words to Meeker himself, rather than what appears to be a projection on Colson. Jonah Goldberg does so on page 264 of his book Liberal Fascism, and The Freeman does so as well, though they don't give the full quote to which they are referring to.

The evils of progressivism and eugenics, for all to see.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Genius. Monsieur would make a lot of sense. Thanks.