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The standard by which we judge a social policy must be a multiple standard, like the compensating pendulum of a reliable clock. The standard here assumed as valid includes the following ideas: (1) Welfare, well-being — analyzed into its various unanalyzable elements of health, wealth, knowledge, beauty, sociability, ethical rightness, and religious faith—is the most general conception involved (analysis of A. W. Small). (2) The welfare of all men, not of a limited class, must be the ideal, the regulative principle. Neither the political will of a democratic age nor the authority of an ethical philosophy countenances any standard for social conduct which is not universal, purely human. Persons cannot ethically be treated as means to ends outside themselves. No policy which is partial to a family, a dynasty, an order, a church, a class, at the expense of others, can be defended. (3) Therefore our standard is set up for the defense of the helpless child, the undeveloped, the tardy, the incapable; not because of what they can now do for society, but because they are human and have potential capacity for future development. (4) The analysis of social ends shows that we include all qualities and kinds of the humanly desirable. As a nature-object every person must have a certain minimum of food and shelter, and, normally, the race-interest asks for provision for propagation, maintenance, and protection of healthy offspring. Hence the demand of our standard that all capable human beings have a chance to work and produce wealth, material objects of desire. As a psychical person, one who must find his own way in a knowable world, each human being must be taught what he can learn of the knowledge possessed by his community, and his power to learn must be developed. Culture must be manysided, even in an asylum for idiots or a prison for the criminal. (5) Scientific social ethics transcends merely qualitative analysis of social elements of welfare, and is ambitious to employ mathematics as far as possible in the accurate and quantitative measurement of its standard. Our age is trying to define at least a miniruin standard of life for all citizens. This process has already gone farther than many citizens are aware. The standardizing of weights and measures is a recent addition to the functions and offices of our federal government at Washington, and it marks an
advance in the technical arts. At many points? we are seeking to standardize the conditions of welfare of human beings. Naturally we are here concerned with a minimum standard; if we can discover and fix this measure, the more capable, aspiring, and energetic members of society may safely be left free to enjoy all above that level which they can justly acquire and rationally use.
At this hour no rational (scientific) standard for the minimum income of wage-earners has been generally accepted. (1) The rough rule of average employers is “the law of supply and demand;" which law actually leads to the destruction of human life on a gigantic scale for the sake of profits. It has no final social justification. (2) The gradation of wages according to the rate of profits is not rational or equitable. The Auctuations and inequalities under such a rule would be unendurable. (3) The rule of the “sliding scale,” which means that the rate of wages fluctuates with the price of the commodity produced, has no ultimate basis in reason, and does not provide a socially acceptable minimum rate. (4) The rule of the strongest, in the fight between trade unions and employers' combinations, which gives the advantage to the party which holds out longest, is simply a barbarous makeshift, with a rational standard far in the dim background. And where unions and combinations do agree the result is simply more hardship for the consumers, and bears with greatest weight on the very poor. (5) The only rational startingpoint is a minimum standard below which public morality cxpressed in sentiment, custom, trade-union regulations, moral maxinis, and law — will not perinit workers to be employed for wages.
As I have elsewhere discussed this minimum in relation to the Industrial Group, it remains only to indicate the contribution which charity work has made to the discussion of a standard. The dietaries of asylums, orphanages, hospitals, and prisons are the outcome of a long series of experiments in chemical and physiological laboratories, in army and navy, in camp and mine, as well as in these institutions of charity and correction.
- See C. R. HexDERSON, Practical Sociology in the Service of Social Ethics. Decennial Publications of the University of Chicago,” 1902.
The Outlook, August, 1904, article by Messrs. Hand and Poole.
One field for the adoption of a standardized minimum remains to be cultivated — that of adequate outdoor relief to needy families in their homes. The stupid complacency with which only too many public officials and private benevolent societies pretend to relieve the destitute, while leaving many of them still partly to depend on begging, theft, or vice, is a sad commentary on the state of knowledge in this region. One result of this unscientific guesswork, where measurement is already possible, is that much public money is spent on the burial of pauper children which should have gone to feed and nourish them into vigorous producers of wealth.
Charity, in American cities, is far behind its task. It does not even have knowledge of those who need its aid. Under the “Elberfeld system” there are friends of the dependent in every small district of the city, and the individuals on the border of suffering can easily find their way to a helper. In America the public funds are frequently accessible only in one central office, and even when there is outdoor relief it is limited in amount.
There are many people in comfortable circumstances, and many charity workers, who think that our American charity is very nearly adequate. This optimism, I believe, is not based on facts, and is positively a barrier to necessary improvements. My own conviction is based on long personal observation and on certain professional testimonies and statistical data. For example: Physicians who practice among the poor frequently report sickness and mortality which arise from “starvation diseases.” Teachers of public schools in poor quarters make similar stateinents. The London and Chicago measurements of children in reformatory schools show an enormous ratio of dwarfed, underfed children. The reports of boards of health in American cities contain evidence of the same conditions.
A very common answer of some charity societies to this charge is that they are able to give relief to all applicants. But, with these facts before us, the answer is not decisive. People by the tens of thousands are trying to exist and bring up children in homes which are unfit for human habitation, and on food which is insufficient to meet the minimum requirements of growth. They do this because they either do not know
where to apply for help, or because they know that, unless actually ready to perish, they will be treated as able-bodied and not needing relief,” or because they prefer to suffer from hunger and cold and disease rather than ask alms.
I do not claim that charity should attempt to relieve all distress. No doubt the idleness and vices of men produce much misery which philanthropy cannot reach. No doubt moral reformation and schemes of thrift, insurance, education, and general sanitation will in time remove many of the causes of this distress. But what I urge is that we do not now realize the actual enormity of suffering from poverty, that our methods of finding out are
ry inadequate, and that our optimism is as cruel as it is unscientific. So long as many influential charity workers are teaching rich and well-to-do people that we are almost at our goal we shall never awaken the public to put forth the necessary effort to cope with the overwhelming evils of extreme need in our industrial centers.'
The present efforts of the permanent census bureau of the nation, supported by the National Conference of Charities and Correction, by the National Prison Association, and by all experts, to collect continuous and reliable statistics relating to paupers and criminals should be supported by all citizens. It is to be hoped that funds will be furnished to professors and students in university departments of social science for investigations in this field.
It might be thought that the elements of welfare in the higher regions of intellectual, ästhetic, and moral culture are too refined, indefinite, and ethereal to be standardized. But all countries which have compulsory school attendance, at least up to a certain age, declare thereby that they have adopted a minimum standard of education; and they compel competitive exploitation of youth
One illustration of an attempt to fix a minimum standard may here be given: “Dr. Frankel, of the United Hebrew Charities of New York, in a study of income and expenditure of a family just above the line of dependency, shows the disbursements for one month to have been about $32, the receipts from all sources (including $5 from lodgers) during the same period were from $33 to $35." - Solomon C. Lowenstein, in Jewish Charity, June, 1904, p. 210. See also Charles Booth, Life and Labour; ROUNTREE, Poverty: a Study of Town Life; E. T. Devine, Principles of Relief. Dr. Devine's book was not yet published when this paper was written.
to wait for maturity of body and mind. Child-labor laws are themselves the definite legal expression of a mathematical measurement of a social duty.
The trade-union world is stating its minimum standard more and more definitely, and insisting on it with courage and constancy, though sometimes also with acts of lawlessness and atrocity which show disregard of community welfare. This minimum standard includes such factors as the eight-hour day, the sanitary workplace, protected machinery, the age of beginning apprenticeship, and a minimum rate of wages for each branch of industry. The effect of the successful and general application of this standard upon the incapable and the feeble deserves our attention; but the enforcement of the minimum, being a community interest, should not be left to trade unions, but should be, as far as possible, a matter of law and governmental action.
In the maintenance of this minimum standard we are compelled to face the problem of immigration of foreigners whose standard of living is below this minimum. So long as hordes of this class are permitted to come freely to America, to live herded in unfit habitations, and to compete for places with our naturalized citizens who have already won an advance, the case is hopeless for our own people.
Uncritical and traditional requirements of ethics produce an unreasoning sentimentalism which wreaks injury upon the race. The ethical demands of the future will become more exact, more capable of explanation and justification, because they will rest both upon inherited instincts of sympathy and also upon calculations of the consequences of methods on social welfare in our own and coming ages.
Many of the moral standards of our times need to be profoundly modified by this process of scientific testing and experimentation.
The general form of our present problem is this: What is the best system and method of promoting the welfare of the Dependent Group, considered as a vital part of the entire community? It is chiefly a problem of technique. This technique is a mode of