Friday, June 17, 2011 not tell me, as a good man did today, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prison, if need be; but your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots; and the thousandfold Relief Societies; though I confess with shame I sometimes give the dollar, it is a wicked dollar that by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The selfish, heartless barbarian, thinking his own conscience should be the guide of his charitable contributions. Thank God we live in a more enlightened time, when threatening a fellow citizen with violence to extort contributions for all your favorite causes is such an entrenched tradition that most people roll their eyes at the very suggestion that the method is violent!

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