Charity organizations are coming to the belief that large families really keep people poor because the poorer the family the larger the birth rate, as seen in the following table presented by Dr. J. Bertillon, at the International Statistical Institute of St. Petersburg.
*The Industrial History of England.
Heron has also shown that in England the rule is almost universal that the higher the social status the fewer the children.*
The law, then, which prohibits child labor and compels school attendance is merely increasing starvation, and making it necessary to feed the school children - a plan now being adopted all over the civilized world as a temporary expedient until the time when the birth rate will be so reduced that the poor parent will have so few children that he can feed them himself. There is also an outcry against the school system which teaches so much useless knowledge. The new demands are in the direction of turning all schools into industrial establishments where each child will be taught as soon as possible how to support itself, but that, too, is impractical, for the parent cannot keep the child in any school. It must earn its own living at the earliest possible moment, and, as a matter of fact, in New York State, one-third the children leave school before they are thirteen, and scarcely half remain after fourteen. It is perfectly natural that by the time real education begins, at ten or eleven, the children leave, for that is the time ability to work begins. Compulsory education controls the children too young for effective brain training, and the schools are mere nurseries to relieve the mothers of a burden. No wonder the results are bad. In parts of Europe the problem is solved by the half-time method, whereby factory employees work half the day and go to school the other half, and they make better progress than the whole timers who are really kept in school more hours per day than is good for them.
An investigation of the declining English birth rate was published by Sidney Webb in the London Times,* and confirms much of the foregoing chapters. Briefly, his conclusions are as follows: The decline is not due to an alteration in the ages of the population (more old people) or in the number or proportion of married women or their ages. It is not confined to towns, nor is it greater in the towns. It is more marked among classes to whom children are inconvenient, being specially noticeable in well-to-do families. It is much greater in the classes noted for thrift and foresight. It is always volitional, and does not necessarily indicate lessened ability to reproduce. It is a pity that this excellent paper, so full of valuable statistics, should look upon the matter in the light of race suicide, and not the operation of beneficent natural law which cannot be changed by all the preaching in the world. There is an interesting statement in this paper which shows that overcrowding has been long noticed and believed to be remediable. One writer is quoted as voicing the opinions of economists from Malthus to Fawcett: "If only the devastating torrent of children could be arrested for a few years, it would bring untold relief."*
* Dular & Co., London, 1906.
* Popular Science Monthly, December, 1906.
There is, indeed, an increasing number of publicists who are recognizing the advantages of a reduced birth rate. Not only in America but in every European country, there is a constantly increasing number of articles published, showing that the reduced rates are vastly benefiting the nations and mankind. Space will not permit even reference to these numerous expressions of opinions. Instead of race suicide, it is race preservation.
There is even an outcry from the charity organizations that poor mothers in New York are wholly unable to raise children. There is a demand for more maternity hospitals to care for them, and now there is a new demand for sanitoria to which these women can be sent after discharge from the maternity hospital - that is, the State is called on to support mothers whose husbands are too stupid to do it. If there is any class whose birth rate should diminish, it is the tenth who are submerged through their own unfitness to live in civilization. And yet this is the very class which charity workers are doing their utmost to preserve by increasing the birth rate; people unable to raise any children properly, and they are only cursing the country by becoming pregnant and continuing their kind.
The New York Times, of December 7, 1907, described the awful conditions of poverty and hunger in London and other cities. The worst story came from Sunderland, where hundreds of children went to school in winter without shoes or food, some of them were so weak that they had to be sent to hospitals to be gradually nourished until they could eat without danger. "Men, there, are going days without food, and babies are born in rooms stripped of the last vestige of furniture, sold for a mere pittance, and long since expended for bread".
* "The Service of Man," J. Cotter Morison.
It is futile to say that these men, unable to obtain food for themselves, should not bring babies into the world to starve. Of course, they should not, but they haven't sense enough to prevent it. Consequently, there is a growing impression that we should actually teach such men how not to produce children - a matter to be subsequently explained.