A most interesting proof of the manner in which even the present organism is utilizing the unfit to get the most out of them, and is ending the old wasteful struggle for existence which wipes out so many, is found in the tremendous movement for physical education all over the world. It is well described by Dr. Richard C. Newton, in Popular Science Monthly, August, 1907. Every city and school is organizing playgrounds, gymnasia, games and sports, under carefully trained teachers - a a worldwide movement to increase the economic efficiency of each unit. Of course, it is carried to excess here and there, and the boys are often overtrained, but it is a natural wholesome evolution nevertheless. The great athletes do not amount to much in after life as a rule, as they are ruined in heart and arteries, but these excesses can be frowned upon. In other words, each baby born must be reared to the highest possible usefulness, for childbearing is too expensive of vitality to let the offspring survive only if it is strong enough. The "weaklings" are just as useful as the muscular and robust. We have shown that this process has enormously reduced the birth rate, and because these types survive we are a race of "weaklings." It is rare indeed that children can be raised without a doctor's care, so that as time progresses the medical profession is becoming more and more necessary for race survival. Indeed, there are a few observers who think that the time is not so far off when all physicians will be salaried public officials keeping the units alive.
The modern movement to eliminate unsanitary dwellings is another evidence of this tendency to aid all useful units. The lack of houses for all the people has always caused owners to raise rents to the limit of the tenant's ability to pay, and it naturally followed that the most miserable, disease-breeding shacks would spring up and be eagerly rented by those least successful in the struggle for existence. Thus grew the modern slums, which differ in no respects from ancient ones, except in extent. It was nonsense to expect the owners to tear them down and build sanitary ones yielding only four per cent, on a big investment, whereas they were getting ten per cent, on a smaller one. Men are not built that way.
There is now a change which has been brought about in a curious way. Society has discovered - at least some of the intelligent elements have - that it was being injured by the diseases and crimes generated in the slums. In self-protection, they are passing building laws prohibiting the construction of any more bad buildings, and destroying those already doing the harm. The next step is to prevent the owners from taking undue profits, that is, the rich man shall not injure the poor by taking advantage of their feebler abilities to make money. Society is injured if its beneficial units are injured. So, all over the world they are organizing companies to build small sanitary houses to rent at not more than five or four or even three per cent, profit. In the city of Washington, the movement is highly successful as a business venture.* It is diminishing the morbidity and mortality rates, and is bound to be a tremendous factor in reducing the birth rate also. It is really the first step in the direction of eliminating the "land lord" - the type which has owned land and shelter since prehistory, but which seems doomed to extinction as it injures society.
* Sanitary Improvement Company, by Dr. Geo. M. Kober.
Men who have written of the evils of private ownersmp of land and shelter have most unwisely advocated government ownership and rental at a low figure, in utter ignorance of the fact that such changes are a matter of slow evolution requiring many centuries. Already the land of the world has mostly been taken from the large holders. Even where the law of primogeniture forbids such breaking up of estates, the tenants are often owners de facto if not de jure. Indeed, laws are making the tenant's rights irrevocable as long as he pays a fair rental. But this new-house movement has gone even further; it is doing away with individual ownership and replacing it by corporate, and the corporation is forbidden to make any more profits than three or four per cent. That is, society is gradually assuming control of another public utility, simply because the lives must be protected from harmful competition.