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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6293/the-forgotten-man/

The Forgotten Man

February 23, 2007 by

Any one who wants to truly understand the sociology of production must go and search for what William Graham Sumner called the Forgotten Man. He will be found to be worthy, industrious, independent, and self-supporting. He is not, technically, “poor” or “weak”; he minds his own business, and makes no complaint. Consequently the philanthropists never think of him, and trample on him. The industrious and sober workman, who is mulcted of a percentage of his day’s wages to pay the policeman, is the one who bears the penalty. But he is the Forgotten Man. He passes by and is never noticed, because he has behaved himself, fulfilled his contracts, and asked for nothing. FULL ARTICLE


Francisco Torres February 23, 2007 at 9:23 am

What a concise, extremely readable and beautifully cogent essay. The language and the exposition of the ideas would not be out of place today. Thank you for posting it.

Marco da Vinha February 23, 2007 at 10:53 am

Not necessarily about the article, but is that a Rene Magritte painting? If so, which one?

BK Marcus February 23, 2007 at 11:04 am

Marco da Vinha, there are two Magritte paintings for today’s piece. On the front page — the mirror image — is “Portrait of Edward James” (1937). James was the leading patron of surreal art in the 1930s.

The image in the article is a modifed version of Magritte’s “The Pilgrim” (1966).

Marco da Vinha February 23, 2007 at 8:54 pm

Much obliged. Now as for the article, I enjoyed it, though I admit that there’s a wee bit too much social darwinism in it even for my tastes. But it gets to the point, clear and simple, nonetheless.

borat February 22, 2009 at 11:39 pm


borat February 22, 2009 at 11:39 pm


borat February 22, 2009 at 11:39 pm


SwissCaesar October 5, 2009 at 12:47 pm

While on the main William Graham Sumner makes a good argument against a government using coercive power to play Robin Hood, he fails to acknowledge the proper place for Christian charity.

Recall that our Lord says to those who feed the hungry, take in the alien, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison, “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” He controls all things and we will be blessed far more when we give to the poor than if we withhold our assistance from them.

Still, a productive discussion might spring from Sumner’s suggestion that the natural negative consequences of one’s sinful behavior is a great deterrent to that behavior in the future. Those who suffer as a result of their own poor choices deserve a chance to repent and require a hand to get back up on their feet. Yet, charities protecting their limited resources do far better than government in ensuring that the poor are truly repentant and not milking the system.

Members of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (www.agrm.org) do an exemplary job of helping the truly needy and in stewarding the monies donated to them.

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