A Cure Worse Than the Disease

Prophet Statesmen, J. Reuben Clark Jr.

We must be on guard against any plan which will make it unlawful for children to work under proper conditions, and that would place in the hands of the Federal Government the task and the right to take care of our children’s leisure time. Our government with its liberty and free institutions will not long survive a government trained and supervised youth. The experience of ancient and modern nations amply proves this. Such a youth can be a revolutionary machine of the most perfect precision, and we are already started along the way. Some who promote and foster such schemes have it in mind that our government shall not survive.

Of a kind with this scheme is that which takes our youth into great Federal concentration camps for the alleged purpose of giving them work on the plea that this is better than idleness. Work is better than idleness; all human experience proves this. But here also the cure applied is in some respects worse than the disease. For passing by the threatened ill of the potential religious, moral, and political infectious character of such concentration camps, which may not be ignored, such camps have this added ill; they take the youth at his most impressionable age, and accustom him to the idea that the government is to give him both a living and amusement, which idea soon ripens into the belief that the government owes him both. Nothing can be more destructive of loyal citizenship as we have pictured it, than a government-owned citizenry, which makes a mockery of the free ballot, and digs the grave of liberty.

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Source: J. Reuben Clark Jr., LDS Church News, June 15, 1940. J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961), served as a mem­ber of the First Pres­i­dency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1931–1961. Prior to his full-time church ser­vice he was assis­tant solic­i­tor to the State Depart­ment, worked in the Attor­ney General’s office, Under Sec­re­tary of State, the author of the clas­sic study, the “Clark Mem­o­ran­dum on the Mon­roe Doc­trine” and U.S. ambas­sador to Mex­ico. Among those who knew his work best, J. Reuben Clark was rec­og­nized as the fore­most con­sti­tu­tional scholar of the 20th Century.

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