Something which is lost in America today is the phenomenon of discomfort. It was once clearly understood that discomfort provides a valuable service in an economy. In one of Benjamin Franklin’s finest quotes he said,
I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not in making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
Franklin understood the motivational power discomfort has on the poor. If poverty causes discomfort, then a poor man is more likely to take actions which move him out of poverty and the discomfort associated with it. But if a poor man is insulated from the discomfort of poverty, what incentive does he have to strive for prosperity?
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