I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
This was the message affixed by a now mostly forgotten President of the United States to his veto on a measure of Congress to relieve Texas farmers. A bad year, ruined crops, Congress appropriated $100`000 to buy seeds for them out of public money. The President vetoed, the measure failed.
Much unlike the current Democratic President, who basically bought a second term of a lackluster office by promissing largesse to the poor, the respectable Democrat of a century and a half ago is still today celebrated for his merciless exposure of political corruption (in the shape of an older man covered in indelible tattoos).
The point is quite well carried, I would say : either buy your term in office by more or less idle promises (which, in order to not be idle will have to be financed through theft) or else preside over a Republic of free men, not a congregation of worthless swine. All the while the path from Republic of free men to congregation of worthless swine goes, of course, through the forrest of public expenditure for the private good, such as for instance Congress spending a hundred thousand dollars to buy seeds for the hard hit farmers in disaster areas.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. How far, how deep and I suppose if you care how sad.———
- In case you're curious, the original image depicts a young woman on trial, while her solicitor removes her clothing (she wore no underwear) so as to prove the perfection of her body to the judges. In ancient Greek law the perfect were unindictable. [↩]