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Of Crimes and Punishments
Cesare Beccaria

Of Idleness.

A wise government will not suffer in the midst of labour and industry, that kind of political idleness which is confounded by rigid declaimers with the leisure attending riches acquired by industry, which is of use to an increasing society when confined within proper limits. I call those politically idle, who neither contribute to the good of society by their labour nor their riches; who continually accumulate, but never spend; who are reverenced by the vulgar with stupid admiration, and regarded by the wise with disdain; who, being victims to a monastic life, and deprived of all incitement to that activity which is necessary to preserve or increase its comforts, devote all their vigour to passions of the strongest kind, the passions of opinion. I call not him idle who enjoys the fruits of the virtues or vices of his ancestors, and, in exchange for his pleasures, supports the industrious poor. It is not then the narrow virtue of austere moralists, but the laws, that should determine what species of idleness deserves punishment.


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