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Godwin on Poverty

Godwin said "Poverty is an enormous evil". Does that mean he'd be a socialist sympathizer and a critic of the USA, today?


Here is what Godwin meant by 'poverty':

The Enquirer, part 2, essay 1, page 162:
By poverty I understand the state of a man possessing no permanent property, in a country where wealth and luxury have already gained a secure establishment.
Why did Godwin dislike poverty? Here's two of the reasons he gives (p 164):
Every one can see however, that inordinate labour produces untimely decripitude.
the poor are condemned to a want of that leisure which is necessary for the improvement of the mind. They are the predestinated victims of ignorance and prejudice.
To Godwin, poverty meant you work hard all day, every day, so much that you don't ever have time to read books and think, even if you really want to, and you tire out your body so much that you live substantially fewer years, and for all this work you do not gain enough reward to accumlate any savings.

There is nothing like that in the USA today. The homeless don't work. Minimum wage workers have lots of time to read and think if they make it a priority (over watching TV, hobbies, socializing, etc), don't work all day, don't work every day, and can easily accumulate a savings if they are frugal.

Elliot Temple on March 13, 2009


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