Junior's Choice


The Reverend Mr. Mahaffy has served since 1945 as a missionary of the Orthodox Presby­terian Church in Eritrea, East Africa.

From the high branches of a towering eucalyptus tree in front of our home in Africa a baby stork fell from his nest and fluttered to the ground. We found him un­injured but not yet able to fly. To protect him from the hazards of hyenas, jackals, and other dangers we placed him in our walled-in garden. Our children, fascinated by the new pet, searched for in­formation on the life, habits, and diet of the stork family. They named him Junior and aided him in his quest for food. Junior re­sponded to this attention and soon became very tame, answering to the call of his name. After some weeks he learned to fly. Disdain­ing the shed, he flew to the top of the woodpile or to the roof to roost at night, descending again to the garden in the morning. Then one morning, perched on the top of our roof, he hesi­tated as the children called him. He looked about him at the ma­jestic mountain peaks of solid rock and across the beautiful val­ley sloping gently down to the gorge that carries the floods of rain water rushing madly to the sea. Overhead a flock of storks flew gracefully by. Heedless of the calls of the children, he stretched his wings and flew off to soar with his fellow storks into the freedom of the skies.

Our children consoled them­selves in their loss with the knowl­edge that Junior was, after all, a stork and they could expect him to prefer the freedom of the clouds and mountains to the con­finement of our garden wall.

But that was not the end of the story. In about two weeks Junior, apparently tired of for­aging for himself, flew back into our garden which he has again made his home. Now he willingly roosts in the shed at night and seems to prefer the security of his life as a family pet to the free­dom of the mountains and sky. Never has he attempted even to fly over the garden wall. Instead, he walks at the feet of the chil­dren in search for food as they hoe in the garden or gracefully catches in his beak scraps of meat which they toss to him. While Junior is a favored pet, he seems to have lost something of the na­ture of that large and graceful bird by his clear preference for the pampered life of a domestic animal.

Even the children were quick to see the parallel between Jun­ior’s conduct and that of people under the welfare state. Having become accustomed to living at the expense of others, dependent upon subsidies, tariffs, relief checks, unemployment compensa­tion, social security, and a host of other government handouts, they lose even the desire for freedom and reject the responsibility of standing on their own feet.

Man, the image bearer of God, was created not to live as a do­mesticated animal, a parasite on others, but to subdue the world, applying his growing intellect and physical powers to the creation in order to develop his potential, strengthen his character, and serve his Maker. The welfare state pampered life, however, can so benumb his soul that he loses even the desire to enjoy and use his freedom under his Creator. In the process he becomes some­thing less than man. Like Junior he finds contentment with a life that falls short of a full realiza­tion of his own nature.

The exchange of freedom for life under the welfare state is a deliberate choice of man. The con­sequences of that free choice, however, are destructive of his character. In fact, they are also destructive of human society for society cannot long support an ever-growing number of unpro­ductive dependents who prefer to be something less than men.


May 1964

comments powered by Disqus


* indicates required


December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
Download Free PDF




Essential Works from FEE

Economics in One Lesson (full text)


The full text of Hazlitt's famed primer on economic principles: read this first!


Frederic Bastiat's timeless defense of liberty for all. Once read and understood, nothing ever looks the same.


There can be little doubt that man owes some of his greatest suc­cesses in the past to the fact that he has not been able to control so­cial life.


Leonard Read took the lessons of entrepreneurship with him when he started his ideological venture.


No one knows how to make a pencil: Leonard Read's classic (Audio, HTML, and PDF)