Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/626

This page has been validated.

they; "can we not alleviate their distress?" They would invoke state aid in behalf of these social failures, and thus increase the burdens upon the employed, forgetting that "the last straw breaks the camel's back." They would increase the number of officials, and lose thousands of dollars of the people's money by theft, while only tens or hundreds were bestowed as charity. They forget that the poor millions who are the consumers are the real tax-payers. All experience has shown that only abortive effort and theft can be hoped for when the state interferes. It is already overloaded with such work, and its officers are men subject to temptation where cash is concerned. A change of these has been advocated, but this would only be a change of thieves. No one class has a monopoly of morality. There are moral and immoral men in all classes; and, unfortunately, men of light specific gravity are more apt to swim in the sea of politics than their more solid fellows. Shall we, then, resort to an indiscriminate bestowal of alms? Statistics have again and again shown that, in the direct ratio of alms-giving, there is an increase of pauperism and crime. The easier you make the pauper's life, the more of that restraint you remove which now hinders many from choosing pauperism as a profession. If you have money to spend upon them, demand an equivalent in work of some kind for every cent bestowed. This leaves them with a spark of manly feeling, and satisfies your desire to relieve their wants. I have seen philanthropic men and women refuse to purchase a cane, toy, or newspaper, from a really suffering and needy person in the street, because they either did not want the article offered or would not be troubled with it; and I have then seen them go a few steps and drop as much money as would have made the purchase into the hat of a professional beggar, who was less worthy and less needy. It was hard to escape the conclusion that the sympathetic feeling which could only be satisfied by giving without requiring aught in return was here tinctured with the unhallowed self-righteousness of the Pharisee.

In these unemployed workmen we have a vast amount of energy wasting itself in uselessness or crime. In the bank-vaults lie unused large stores of the potential energy of society. Rich and poor are suffering from the inactivity. What is the cause of this? The capitalists will make no new investments, as they will not pay. Business is stagnant. People refuse to purchase. Such is the general cry, and over-production takes the blame. Over-production of what? How can an over-production of wheat and potatoes produce an over-production of everything else? How happens it that all the industries appeared to collapse together? Was there over-production in all? Has each person in these United States got all the clothing and articles of comfort and luxury he can possibly desire? How can overproduction be chargeable with this state of affairs, when, by a little thought upon the matter, we might see that the evidence points to