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by Bernarr MacFadden

Special Editorial: The Something-For-Nothing Dreamers

January 13, 1940 - We can all breathe a sigh of relief. The intelligence needed to protect this nation from the something-for-nothing advocates has apparently filtered through the minds of the majority of our people, at least in some sections of this country.

What was called the "Ham and Eggs" movement, which had supporters in California who wanted $30 a week for everybody more than fifty years of age, has been beaten, even in Los Angeles, the stamping ground of its enthusiastic advocates.

Even Dr. Townsend called this plan a snare and a delusion. And Upton Sinclair, the creator of the End of Poverty campaign in California, condemned it.

Similar socialistic nonsense was also heavily snowed under in Ohio by a majority of more than three to one.

The idea that permanent gain can be secured from such a policy is so inconceivably silly that it is difficult to realize how apparently intelligent people can be induced to support it.

And we will have to admit that to a large extent the principles are in a way allied to the false philosophy that has influenced some of the officials of the present administration at Washington.

The idea that we can borrow ourselves into prosperity might be termed the slogan of some of our Washington officials, and the billions of indebtedness that has been incurred by the federal government has been undoubtedly due partly to this unreasoning sophistry.

This administration seems to have acquired the idea that its officials were put in power to remedy all human ills. There are certain governmental duties for which they are definitely responsible, but their interpretation extended them to an unlimited degree. They acquired the idea that they should assume the responsibility of bringing happiness and comfort to all our lowly citizens, and the means they adopted for this purpose was to shovel out the billions of dollars in the United States Treasury, using credit that has been built up throughout the entire life of this nation.

Something for nothing! It may be possible with unearned capital...when those who pay out the money have never had the responsibility of earning it. A rich man's son who has inherited millions can pass out his money to the "have-nots," and although such a procedure may be helpful in a few instances, usually it is an artificial stimulant. It is not a permanent remedy. It does not build up anything worth-while ... in fact, it tears down morale.

When one has been living on charity... when he has been accepting handouts month after month, year after year...it becomes a destructive habit...a demoralizing force; it weakens the spine...takes away the fighting spirit.

If we ever expect to land on solid ground...if we expect to retain the stability which this nation has maintained throughout its history...reckless spending must be discontinued. It will bring certain destruction, governmentally and otherwise.

When one can secure an income without working, what inducement is there to look for work? The dole and WPA jobs have unquestionably been helpful in many instances, but the system used in some parts of the country has kept many workers from steady jobs. It has greatly increased the difficulties of farmers, factory owners, etc., in securing capable and efficient help.

Let us hope that the outstanding defeat that has been administered to the something-for-nothing crowd will convey a lesson to those who are trying 'to introduce laws that can have but one result, and that is bankruptcy for whatever government that attempts to follow this crackpot reasoning.

To be sure, there are the crippled, the helpless, and the jobless. They should be assisted...they should receive the aid which is necessary to give them reasonable comforts, but they should not be the recipients of financial aid greater than they have ever had before when they were employed.

It is quite easy to be liberal with other people's money. Popularity through official spending is easily obtained and we have had entirely too much of this governmental extravagance in recent years.

RetroGalaxy Editor's note: Bernarr MacFadden, famous publisher of Liberty Magazine, wrote this in response to the "Ham & Eggs" movement dreamed up by Robert Noble. It was just one of many pension schemes in California during the 1930s. "$30 every Thursday" was the rallying cry for the movement that promised every 50+ year-old, unemployed California resident a weekly payment from the state.

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