Expenditures for individuals, although treated as if they were for the common benefit, are not as numerous as the ones for the common benefit. The most important item in this class is the cost of caring for dependents, delinquents, and defectives. A glance at the preceding tables will show its importance. In the state and Federal expenditures this item is near the top, while it is comparatively low in cities. This is true because the other divisions look after the cities' needs in these matters. The per capita cost for cities, however, is greater than for the states.
Public Charity. - The problem of public charity is important, not only from the standpoint of the amount spent, but from the standpoint of how it is spent. Expenditures for charity should be made so as to produce as few deleterious effects on the recipient as possible. If relief is administered in a haphazard way the evils which were sought to be corrected will only be magnified. Expenditures should be used, whenever possible, to remove the cause, so that they will not have to be repeated. Often only temporary assistance is needed, and if this is given in the right way future expenditures for these individuals may not be necessary. Where the cause cannot be removed, or is regularly recurring, permanent aid must be resorted to. The most common causes of the need for permanent charities are the various sorts of bodily infirmities. The city and county almshouses and poor farms are widespread evidence of permanent public charities.
Private Charity. - As in the case of education, only a part of the cost of charity is borne by the public - perhaps the smaller part. Other agencies at work giving the same service are individuals, religious bodies, fraternal organizations, and various forms of associated charities. There is a place for the work of each, but their energies should not be expended independently of each other. Each should know what the other is doing, so that efforts will not be duplicated that would defeat the ends in view.
At best, expenditures for charity are discouraging, since causes never seem to be removed to such an extent that the need for the expenditure decreases. Some laws and customs in the past have made it easy for willful vagrants and paupers to exploit the public. It is needless to suggest that legislation, rather than to foster such conditions, should make them extremely difficult.
Insurance and Pensions. - Some measures are undertaken by the state which are designed to lessen the need for charitable expenditures. Chief among these are the various forms of compulsory insurance. Where workmen are required to deposit a part of their wages in a fund, to be returned in case of disability or old age, or where the employer is required to make some definite provision to compensate for the accidents or sickness of his employees, the public burden is often lessened. There has been a rapid extension of the various forms of social insurance, and it is possible that this may be a means of lessening the amounts spent for charity. The provisions for old-age pensions and mothers' pensions, which are gradually being extended, will likewise tend to lessen the item of expenditures for charity.
Care of Defectives. - The costs for caring for defectives and delinquents have shown a continued and rapid increase. This is due not only to the increasing numbers for which provision must be made, but to the better services which are being given. The most important institutions for the. defective class are those for the insane, blind, feeble-minded, and deaf and dumb. The heaviest burdens in the care of these classes fall upon the state governments. The greatest cost is for the insane. The figures are almost startling. In 1918, out of a total cost to the states for charities, hospitals, and corrections, of $118,084,000, the amount which went to institutions for the insane was $49,950,000. In some states the expenditure for the insane is larger than the sum total of the expenditures for education - a fact which is worthy of consideration by serious-minded students. There seems to be little prospect for decreasing the expense for these classes. In fact, as expert medical treatment is extended to replace the old treatment by force, costs may be expected to increase.
Corrective Institutions. - Corrective institutions are of various classes. They are maintained for adults and minors, and vary from Federal prisons to the village and county jails. Expenses for these institutions have increased, partly because of increased numbers of inmates, and partly because of attempts to make them corrective rather than mere institutions for punishment. The possibilities for reducing expenditures here, however, do not seem so remote as in the cases of other institutions. Inmates can be engaged to a greater extent than formerly in productive labor, and as society becomes more advanced the conditions for producing and propagating a criminal class may be partially removed.