Sir Thomas More, Utopia
“‘What about it?’” I asked—for I never hesitated to speak freely in front of the Cardinal. ‘This method of dealing with thieves is both unjust and socially undesirable. As a punishment it’s too severe, and as a deterrent it’s quite ineffective. Petty larceny isn’t bad enough to deserve the death penalty, and no penalty on earth will stop people from stealing, if it’s their only way of getting food. In this respect you English, like most other nations, remind me of incompetent schoolmasters, who prefer caning their pupils to teaching them. Instead of inflicting these horrible punishments, it would be far more to the point to provide everyone with some means of livelihood, so that nobody’s under the frightful necessity of becoming first a thief and then a corpse.’”
Poignant, profound, yet, old as this is, unbelievably, still applicable because those who should read it won’t (and if they did, they’d probably misunderstand it).