Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/276

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seven children and a salary of $400 a year, awakened the deep sympathy of a women's missionary society. But the question arises at once and it will not down. Why should that helpless poverty-stricken man and wife have had a sixth? Why should that poverty-stricken home missionary have had seven? More than that—why should either of them have had any?

Philanthropic work, in endeavoring to ameliorate the pangs of poverty, begins at the wrong end; instead of trying to abolish poverty, it labors incessantly to increase it and its burdens. The improvident class procreates recklessly and would-be philanthropists encourage the folly. They are like men in a plague-stricken town, who endeavor to ease the pain of sufferers but refuse to recognize and to remove the sources of disease. Tenements are made better every year to protect the careless against their own negligence; public schools are inspected that contagious diseases may be checked; vaccination is compulsory and free; great dispensaries provide free treatment for all comers; women in confinement have free medical attendance and diet kitchens provide proper food for them; infants are cared for in day nurseries for a nominal sum that the mothers may go out to work; education, even professional education is offered to all, without cost. There is free treatment in the schools for children with diseases of the throat, nose and ears; effort has been made to secure in the New York schools free luncheons, free spectacles and free dental service for children who appear to need them; and it is reported that in the Chicago schools a fair beginning has been made, in that food for hungry children is provided at nominal cost.

Everything within the range of possibility has been suggested or attempted in order to free the improvident from all sense of responsibility for their offspring. Yet those who are guilty of this sin are the same with those who regale the community with illustrated lectures on the horrors of the slums. Philanthropy should begin its work at the other end; instead of endeavoring to alleviate the condition it should endeavor to abolish it. Instead of merely lamenting the fact that sewing-women's wages are so pitifully low, it should try to prevent increase of competitors for work, that wages may be better for the next generation. Instead of encouraging heedless procreation, its efforts should be to encourage restriction. The duty of parents to children should be made plain to those who are unwilling to recognize them; and indiscriminate free medical treatment should be abolished. Laws against child labor should be made more stringent and should be enforced rigorously; farming out of children should be made impossible. When it has been discovered that the community will not bear the expense there will be hesitation, and marriage of those without prospect of subsistence will be less frequent. Marriage of per-