Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » THE BIGGEST ASSHOLE IN THE WORLD

    Filed at 2:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    Thomas Sowell:

    The arrogance of commandeering young people’s time, instead of leaving them and their parents free to decide for themselves how to use that time, is exceeded only by the arrogance of imposing your own notions as to what is or is not a service to the community.

    Working in a homeless shelter is widely regarded as “community service”— as if aiding and abetting vagrancy is necessarily a service, rather than a disservice, to the community.

    Is a community better off with more people not working, hanging out on the streets, aggressively panhandling people on the sidewalks, urinating in the street, leaving narcotics needles in the parks where children play?

    That Sowell has a roof over his head tonight is proof that the universe is unjust.


    Comment by
    December 5th, 2008
    at 3:11 pm

    Yeah, good Mr. Sowell might benefit from doing a stint at a homeless shelter, either as a guest or as a volunteer. He seems to believe people living the high life in the soup kitchen line would all just become productive hardworking citizens overnight if the free room & board dried up.

    That might be true of the segment of homeless who are rich kids out rebelling from society on daddy’s dime. But it sure ain’t true for most of the rest of them.

    He ought to complete his thought. Is a community better off with these folks, or (insert his solution here). What’s his proposal?

    Anyway, here’s a timely scene from a little Christian book that will probably be well received on this blog:

    “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
    “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
    “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
    “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “ I wish I could say they were not.”
    “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
    “Both very busy, sir.”
    “Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
    “Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
    “Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
    “You wish to be anonymous?”
    “I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”
    “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides — excuse me — I don’t know that.”
    “But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.
    “It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 5th, 2008
    at 3:21 pm

    A “Christian” book? With all those ghosts running around?

    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    December 5th, 2008
    at 6:21 pm

    I can’t help but observe that the “children of man” in that powerful story are Want, and Ignorance. And the more dangerous is Ignorance.

    Comment by
    December 5th, 2008
    at 8:40 pm

    I gotta agree with the guy, though, that forced volunteering is an oxymoron.

    I once watched one of the fine young people in my extended family pick trash up off of the road as part of her required public service. Sounds noble unless you were there when she first put the trash on the road.

    Schools already dictate how students spend a significant chunk of their lives outside of school. They need to quit piling it on and leave community service up to individual families.

    Comment by
    December 5th, 2008
    at 11:08 pm

    Well, under that standard –leave it to individual families — Thomas Sowell may not like where that leaves legislated morality. . .

    Comment by
    Nance Confer
    December 6th, 2008
    at 9:45 am

    Was the fine young person picking up trash as part of a court sentence? Or was this for school credit? Or hours toward a college scholarship?

    Sowell is an idiot. Or just heartless. Or both.

    But I think this sort of “let them eat nothing” attitude will be quite popular in some circles and louder as Obama takes office and more poor people are helped.

    The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” types will not go quietly.


    Comment by
    December 8th, 2008
    at 9:50 am

    It was for school in some way – not a scholarship or a court sentence. It was assigned over a major holiday, when the student was very busy with the many activities of her very large, tight-knit family.

    Having had to arrange public service for my own kids in the past, I’ve found it to be a very frustrating experience (though we’ve always tried to make it legit and never resorted to the picking-up-trash scenario). In many cases, the service that the child/family was already involved in and committed to didn’t count for some reason or another (and the rules would change every year), so we had to put that aside to make room for the one-time-only, for-the-paperwork-and-photo-op service. It’s very artificial.

    Anything done on your own within the family/community – helping grandparents or elderly neighbors, inviting special needs kids over to play, etc – which ought to be a natural part of everyone’s life – never seems to count, even though this is, IMHO, the basics of being involved in your community. (You shouldn’t need to work through a formal agency to do your part.) And if you have kids doing a very academic school track (lots of AP classes, etc.), the school is already taking up a significant part of their at-home time with homework, etc. They have little time for much else.

    I see this mandatory service trend as more intrusion by the school on what should be family time.