By Tom Rhodes, 4/17/2014
Pay if Forward, an OK movie if you like emotional chick flicks, but it is an old and venerated charitable concept that is grounded on voluntarily helping others and asking them to voluntarily do the same when they can. Pay it forward was used as a key plot element in the denouement of a Comedy play by Menander, Dyskolos, a prizewinning play in ancient Athens in 317 BC. The concept was rediscovered and described by Benjamin Franklin, who in a letter to Benjamin Webb in 1784, said, “I do not pretend to give such a deed; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.”
Pay it forward is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old, but the phrase may have been coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight.
On my way into work this morning listening to Morning Edition on NPR, I heard a story titled “Pay It Forward Proposal Could Help Students Afford College” by Leah Binkovitz. The story on their web page is described as a “new idea is making the rounds in education circles. Under the plan, states would allow students to go to college for free then they would pay back a percentage of their salaries after they graduate.”
This is a sick perversion of the old noble concept of Pay it forward. As proposed the state pays for students go to college, and after they graduate pay back to the state a percentage of their income based on their salary. The result will be students who get STEM degrees and garner high paying jobs will actually subsidize those who get “woman’s studies” degrees and end up working as bartenders, waitresses, and cab drivers. This program is not Pay it forward, this is “from each according to his ability to each according to his need”. This is a typical ploy of socialists who since the proven failure of Marxist ideology, attempt to cover their Marxist programs as anything other than socialism.
The concept of Paying if Forward is based voluntary charity, and hoping that a good deed will propagate itself and improve not only the life of the person you helped but nurture the idea and generosity of that person. This program is not based on the hope that a good deed will be propagated, accepting the risk that some Knave may stop its progress. The program described on NPR and proposed in the state of Michigan is not a “new idea.” It is based on redistribution of wealth without risk. It is simply a socialist system for higher education.
This program disguises itself as “charity” but it’ not. If it were truly a version of Paying if Forward, there would be no strings attached, a State or some foundation would simply say, “We believe in you, and are going to pay for your degree, all we ask is when you succeed you support us with as much as you can until you feel your debt has been paid so we can continue to Paying if Forward.” The plan proposed is not paying it forward, it is another way for statists and liberals to try and feel good about using the force of government to redistribute wealth, rather than be charitable themselves.