surely they have a full right to present these written promises, and to say "hand over the food, for which the equivalent labour has been already done". Now I think this case well worth stating, publicly and clearly. I should like to drive it into the heads of those Socialists who are priming our ignorant paupers with such sentiments as "Look at them bloated haristocrats! Doing not a stroke o' work for theirselves, and living on the sweat of our brows!" I should like to force them to see that the money, which those "haristocrats" are spending, represents so much labour already done for the community, and whose equivalent, in material wealth, is due from the community.'

`Might not the Socialists reply "Much of this money does not represent honest labour at all. If you could trace it back, from owner to owner, though you might begin with several legitimate steps, such as gifts, or bequeathing by will, or "value received", you would soon reach an owner who had no moral right to it but had got it by fraud or other crimes; and of course his successors in the line would have no better right to it than he had.'"

`No doubt, no doubt,' Arthur replied. `But surely that involves the logical fallacy of proving too much? It is quite as applicable to material wealth, as it is to money. If we once begin to go back beyond the fact that the present owner of certain property came by it honestly, and to ask whether any previous owner, in past ages, got it by fraud, would any property be secure?'

After a minute's thought, I felt obliged to admit the truth of this.

`My general conclusion,' Arthur continued, `from the mere standpoint of human rights, man against man, was this -- that if some wealthy "idle mouth", who has come by his money in a lawful way, even though not one atom of the labour it represents has been his own doing, chooses to spend it on his own needs, without contributing any labour to the community from whom he buys his food and clothes, that community has no right to interfere with him. But it's quite another thing, when we come to consider the divine law. Measured by that standard, such a man is undoubtedly doing wrong, if he fails to use, for the good of those in need, the strength or the skill, that God has given him. That strength and skill do not belong to the community, to be paid to them as a debt: they do not belong to the man himself, to be used for his own enjoyment: they do belong to God, to be used according to His will; and we are not left in doubt as to what this will is. "Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again."'

`Anyhow,' I said, `an "idle mouth" very often gives away a great deal in charity.'

`In so-called "charity",' he corrected me. `Excuse me if I seem to speak uncharitably. I would not dream of applying the term to any individual. But I would say, generally, that a man who gratifies every fancy that occurs to him -- denying himself in nothing -- and merely gives to the poor some part, or even all, of his superfluous wealth, is only deceiving himself if he calls it charity.'

`But, even in giving away superfluous wealth, he may be denying himself the miser's pleasure in hoarding?'

`I grant you that, gladly,' said Arthur. `Given that he has that morbid craving, he is doing a good deed in restraining it.'

`But, even in spending on himself,' I persisted, `our typical rich man often does good, by employing people who would otherwise be out of work: and that is often better than pauperizing them by giving the money.'

`I'm glad you've said that!' said Arthur. `I would not like to quit the subject without exposing the two fallacies of that statement -- which have gone so long uncontradicted that Society now accepts it as an axiom!'

`What are they?' I said. `I don't even see one, myself.'

`One is merely the fallacy of ambiguity -- the assumption that "doing good" (that is, benefiting somebody) is necessarily a good thing to do (that is, a right thing). The other is the assumption that, if one of two specified acts is better than another, it is necessarily a good act in itself. I should like to call this the

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