Associated Press
These file photos from July 2008 show the Freddie Mac headquarters in McLean, Va.

Cicero warned that although philanthropy is noble in intent, it must avoid the pitfalls of (1) encouraging the recipient to become permanently dependent upon others for his or her subsistence or (2) destroying the giver's ability to continue producing wealth. Has the "war on poverty" (enacted in 1964) measured up to Cicero's criteria?

Sixty million people now seek government assistance as compared to only 8 million when that plan was introduced. In 1964, our nation's out-of-wedlock birthrate (generally welfare dependent) amounted to only 6.9 percent of all births; today that rate is 40 percent.

The government's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies created the inflationary housing bubble — absent which the mortgage industry would not have collapsed to the extent it did, nor would so many middle-class people have lost their homes to foreclosure. Our national debt (like that of Europe) is reaching such unsustainable levels as to demand monetization — a process which has historically brought economies to their knees via currency devaluation.

Man's search for "self-goodness" must be tempered by a recognition of human imperfection and the unintended consequences so often presented in good intent gone awry.

Frank Gardiner