Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/549

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ance to working-men is, then, still only a moral and general duty of the state.

We can not enter here into the detail of the economical or political reforms which would render the giving of assistance more sure and more effective by removing the inconveniences (moral and physical) of what is properly called charity; we have only desired to show forth an ideal, and to give an apprehension of the difficulty no less than of the necessity of progressively attaining realization of it. The particular means by which the ideal is to be realized lie within the domain of applied sociology and politics. We merely indicate as among them the most perfect laws respecting property, the more equitable repartition of imposts, which should not be allowed to aggravate the proletariat by falling most heavily on the proletaries themselves; a better application of the imposts; the encouragement of institutions of credit, and of other means of credit less onerous than the mons-de-piété; the establishment of intelligence-offices for workmen seeking work; the extension of the system of mutual assurance on the initiative of the state and the communes, to a vast scale, in order to avert the most frequent and most grave material disasters; colonies, removal to which should be the natural destination of every healthy citizen who has no trade or profession, and who, by begging, or a vagabond life, puts himself under suspicion; and, lastly, the encouragement and increase of particular associations within the grand association of the state. Real benevolence is that which encourages, not idleness, improvidence, and the degeneration of the race, but labor, economy, and the moral and physical progress of generations.

"The state," says a writer who will be little suspected of socialism, M. Thiers, "ought to undertake to contrive means of preparation for panics. It may not be able to do all that could be asked of it, but with foresight it might do something, and even much, for the state has forts, machines, vessels, cordage, guns, cannons, wagons, harness, shoes, dresses, hats, cloth, linen, palaces, and churches to be made; and a competent administration, which would reserve these works, so varied, for the times of panic, which should have for some articles, such as machines, arms, wagons, and cloths, establishments capable of being extended or contracted at will; which should have designs for the strong places or the palaces it has to build prepared and kept ready for the seasons when the labors of private industry are suffering from interruption; which should thus gather up upon the general market the unemployed arms as speculators buy depreciated public securities, which should add financial foresight to an administrative foresight of this kind, and should keep its floating debt free and disengaged, so that it could find money when no one had any an—administration which should take upon itself all of these difficult but not impossible cases, would succeed in greatly reducing distress without, however, suppressing it entirely. . . . Do not assert, then, that we must let the