Under the impression that poverty is remediable, every conceivable suggestion has been made to end it. The Chartists, who attracted so much attention during the dreadful industrial depression of 1830, believed that extension of the franchise would restore prosperity.
While Mr. Hunter was blaming our protective tariff for poverty in the United States, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain was accusing free trade for identical conditions in England, where, he stated, there were 13,000,000 people underfed. Such writers as Edward Everett Hale* seem to think that the problem will somehow be solved sometime, though no one has ever suggested a reasonable solution. In fact, it cannot be solved, for it is natural that there shall be a large class of unemployed - the basis of the struggle for existence, a condition we cannot prevent.
* Edward Bicknell, Popular Science Monthly, May, 1899.
Hence, there is a widespread opinion that society is, somehow, bound to find work for the idle. The act of 1601 compels "the churchwardens of every parish and four, three or two substantial householders" to meet regularly for the purpose of "setting to work all such persons, married or unmarried, having no means to maintain them, and use no ordinary and daily trade of life to get their living by; and also to raise weekly or otherwise a convenient stock of flax, hemp, wool, thread, iron, and other ware and stuff to set the poor on work." From the time of ancient Egypt and that of Jack Cade and Coxey, the unemployed have ever gone in mobs to demand work, and the same phenomenon was recently seen in England when the boot makers of Raundes marched to London, abandoning their families to local charity. Yet public works are paid for by taxes on the efficients, and it is not likely that the ninety-three per cent, in employment will always submit to taxation to support those incompetent to support themselves.
It is said that of every 100,000 well-to-do people, 100 die yearly, and of an equal number of wage earners, 150 die, while of those in poverty 350. These are not due to poverty so much as to the mental and physical defects which caused the failure in the struggle for existence. The well-to-do are born with brains and energy. Even one-fifth of the poorer babies die yearly while only one-twentieth of those born in better circumstances. Disease, to a certain extent, then, is a natural result of overpopulation, for the least fit are the least fed and the least resistant to disease.
* Charities and the Commons, June 1, 1907
We have also shown that insanitary surroundings increase with poverty; not wholly due to it, but resulting from the physical inefficiency and stupidity. Consequently we find that disease and death increase as we go down in the scale of economic efficiency. Disease is really both cause and effect. For instance, Korosi says of the tuberculosis among the inhabitants of Budapest, that the relative death rates of the well-to-do, moderately well-to-do, poor and paupers are 40.0, 62.7, 77.7 and 97.0, respectively.
The investigations of the Health Authorities of New York City showed that among the poorer classes, nearly half of the school children were sick enough to need medical care, and of these about half had defects of vision or swollen cervical glands. Similar investigations in Edinburgh showed that seventy per cent, of school children were actually diseased, and in London there were equally bad conditions* There is even a campaign to improve the teeth of the poor, the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor believing this to be a cause of ill health, whereas every physician knows it to be the result. Dr. Luther H. Gulick, director of physical training in New York City's schools, asserts * that by a superficial examination he estimates that fully ten per cent, of the children are so deficient mentally as to need special instruction. There are thousands in attendance unable to take the regular course. They have inherited the parental stupidity which caused the poverty.