“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.”
In this quote he is saying that people need stop a problem at the base not the smaller problems. An example of this is all the homeless people in Massachusetts. They are most likely homeless because they don't have a job, so Thoreau suggests that you create jobs so that they can work and get there own money and do it for their own good so that they are the ones making the decisions about there life not you. Also I know that if you chop off the branch of a tree it will slowly grow back but if you cut it down there is no way for it to grow back. This also follows his quote because if you give some one a home and don't give them a job, they will son be back on the streets because you have not given them a way to stay in the house only a way for them to live there for a little bit. People need to realize that the only way to solve a problem is by taking it out at the root.