Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/254

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

all very well to criticise the schemes of others," may be said, "but have you anything better to offer?"

I confess I have no particular scheme of reform to offer, nor any patent method by which society can lift itself up by its bootstraps; but, in my humble judgment, most of the modern reformers are overlooking the one thing which is really the parent of much of the misery they desire to exterminate. And that cause is the parents themselves. Go into the slums and alleys where most of this poverty and misery abound, and you find them teeming with children—ragged, half-starved, hungry-eyed, semi-diseased children. What is the use of dredging a pool if, for every bucket of dirt you take out, another dumps in a wagon-load? Why, if that part of society to which this state of existence is common did not make themselves so cheap, they need be in no such condition. When there is a superabundant crop of apples, you will find the orchard strewn with them, rotting from neglect. The best are taken, and the poor ones are trodden under foot. And when these bountiful harvests of children continue with such exasperating regularity, you may expect to see the worst part of humanity cast out and trodden under foot, literally left to rot as useless, so long as society is as it is. Why should men make themselves so cheap? If ever the doctrine of "restriction" needed enforcement, if ever there was a field where its results would be productive of good, it is here, by restricting the supply and so enhancing the prices of men.

Involuntary pauperism and its attending evils will cease whenever the demand for men runs ahead of the supply.

I am not preaching Malthusianism as it is generally understood. It is local over-population and its accompanying unmanageability of which I speak. I have no doubt that this earth, if properly tilled and worked, will supply humanity with bread enough and to spare. But that will take many generations to accomplish. I am simply looking at things as they are, no matter how they came to be so. I can see that so long as human beings are brought into society at the present rate, and in the condition we are in, economics is not going to save them. One of the most hopeful signs in the spread of education is, that each class as it rises to a higher scale of knowledge lowers the percentage of its birth-rate. Where would your capitalists be with an extremely limited supply of labor? Given an exclusive community of millionaires, and what avail will be their millions? Riches and poverty are simply relative conditions. Your millionaire is rich only because there happens to be a herd of men extremely desirous of getting what he possesses. And a man believes himself poor if he does not possess those desirable things, even though he have enough to eat and drink and wear. One generation