Hostirad (hostirad) wrote,
Hostirad
hostirad

P. J. O'Rourke a welfare statist?

I am finally getting around to reading self-described conservative libertarian P. J. O'Rourke's All the Trouble in the World. It has been an enjoyable read so far, but I was very surprised to read the following passage at the end of chapter two, on overpopulation:

"The idea that too many people exist leads to unfortunate and even lethal plans for those people. One of Thomas Malthus's motives for writing An Essay on the Principle of Population was to argue against the Poor Law of his time, which gave aid to pauper families in accordance with the number of their children. This, thought Malthus, bred more paupers. Malthus was also writing in support of Britain's Corn Laws, which imposed large tariffs on imported grain. During the potato famine of the 1840s, these laws would contribute to the deaths of more than a million Irish. Malthus didn't mean any harm, of course. He was a clergyman. 'I would never wish to push general principles too far,' he said, 'though I think they always ought to be kept in view.' So we shouldn't actually shove paupers and Irishmen into the grave, but we shouldn't lose sight of the option either."

O'Rourke's critical tone indicates that he would support government aid to the poor, which is uncharacteristic for a libertarian.
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