“Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.

“In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways:

  1. they may be neglected;
  2. they may be cared for by the organised community as of right;
  3. or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community.

“The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice.”

[Emphasis and formatting added.]

Clement Attlee served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955. He oversaw the setting up of the welfare state and the National Health Service during the post-war austerity period.

Leave a Reply