Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/511

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A UNIVERSITY PENSION SYSTEM

system, but one qualified at every step by favoritism or partiality. One who has occasion to visit many colleges of the country will be astonished at times by two methods of procedure in this matter, diametrically opposite, and yet entirely to be reconciled with the methods under which our colleges are governed. He will be astonished in the first place at the inhumanity which will turn out an old teacher after long service with no means of support. He will be astonished in the second place at many institutions by the presence in the faculty of a considerable proportion of teachers who have long outlived their usefulness and who are practically pensioned by their retention in service. It is not one of the smallest of the disadvantages of this form of pensioning that the presence of the aged and the infirm often arouses in the minds of shallow and impatient men a disregard for the really superior qualities which many of those in advanced years possess. There are always those who believe under such circumstances that all evils can be remedied by a sweeping edict which often tears down more than it builds up.

The most serious objections brought against either the contributory or the non-contributory form of pension are two. Those who make the objections fear that pensions from an outside source may undermine the sturdy virtue of independence, and in the second place that the granting of such pensions and the security which may come from their anticipation will produce a decay of the fundamental virtue of thrift. To these moral arguments may be added the economic contention that pensions lower wages.

While there are certain differences between systems of pensions intended for working men and those intended for teachers, it nevertheless remains true that all these objections may be urged against a system of pensions for teachers with as much reason as against a system of pensions for working men. Human nature in teachers and in working men is in no sense different, and if these be sound objections in one case they are doubtless sound objections in the other.

The first of these objections seems to me to rest in large measure upon a false ground. A man can be independent and yet not insist upon paying himself for everything that he receives. In the complex organization of modern society no individual in any class of society pays for everything which he receives. The wealthy boy at college is a pensioner in very much the same way that the poor boy is. John Hampden lost nothing of his feeling of independence by partaking of the bounty of William of Waynefleet. Nor did Milton or Charles Darwin experience any impairment of their sturdy qualities of spirit from having been educated through the generosity of the Lady Margaret. That is a singular, and probably a narrow, man who has not partaken of the benevolence of others. The whole effect and outcome of that participation depends upon the spirit in which the benevolence is tendered