[The Daily News, 2. Januar 1869]

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The Daily News. Nr. 7074, 2. Januar 1869. S. 5.
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PAUPERISM, CHARITY, AND POOR LAWS.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE DAILY NEWS.

Jan 2 Anmerkung von Jenny Marx

SIR,—Will you permit me to draw your attention to the somewhat extraordinary way in which the Times has veered round on the subject of starvation as a cause of pauperism. In the original article on Dr. Stallardʼs paper read at the Social Science Association, after admitting the facts detailed concerning the great increase of pauperism, the Times charged Dr. Stallard with leading the Association in the wrong direction. An increased number of persons relieved without a corresponding increase of expenditure is not, in the opinion of the Times, any evidence of increased pauperism, but of the growth and development of the system of small doles supplementing the wages of the ordinary class of poor, nor is the number of patients evidence of increased sickness, because, according to Dr. Stallard’s admission, the administration of medical orders is abused. In maintaining that there is a real increase of pauperism, Dr. Stallard is supported by the Times, and the fact is important that there is an increase of 52 per cent in the number of patients attended gratuitously at 22 public hospitals. The moral, says the Times, is obvious, but it is strangely misapprehended by Dr. Stallard.

He treats these facts as evidence of the actual development of sickness and weakness—in other words, of the spread of the legitimate causes of pauperism—and he urges the adoption of a less restrictive system. Starvation, he says, cannot be relied on as a stimulus to labour. The population must be kept in the mind, and with the physical ability to work. The Times is really disappointed to see well-intentioned labour so wholly misdirected, and in its opinion the poor are not demoralized by sickness and want, but by the “small doles” alluded to. What is wanted is not a wider, but a narrower administration of the law, which one should have thought needless, seeing there is an average death by starvation recorded weekly.

Want, says the Times, is the commonest of all incentives to exertion, and “repression by starvation is the only check upon idleness which is universally applicable.” In this argument Dr. Stallard is not quite fairly treated. He nowhere says that want is not a stimulus to work, but that it cannot exclusively be relied upon, nor beyond a certain point. First, because starvation is not the certain consequence of idleness where indiscriminate charity prevails; secondly, because if real and prolonged, it leads to physical incapacity; and lastly, because the cause of destitution—viz., want of work—is often a matter beyond the labourer’s control and power to remedy.

But on Wednesday last a change has come over the Times, possibly resulting from a careful perusal of Dr. Stallard’s paper, since most of his arguments are reproduced with singular cogency and effect.|

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“Bad fare and other miseries may bring down the strongest frame, and the strongest heart too, and a man then ceases to be able to help himself, for what brains he has will suffer with the rest of his system. To be hungry is a bad thing or a good thing just according to circumstances, and there are times and places where it only drives a man to despair, to pauperism, to recklessness, and to crime. It is now admitted to be a lamentable fact, which we cannot shut our eyes to, that one of the most common results of continued distress is an increasing want of resource, and even dread of enterprise.”

These are exactly Dr. Stallard’s views and the obvious deduction is that the public must exercise such a reasonable discretion as will prevent the poor, and especially the honest and industrious poor, from falling into continued distress and want—or in other words, into sickness and pauperism. This the Poor-Law, as now administered, does not do. It does not offer to the industrious man, when destitute, the opportunity of maintaining himself by independent labour; it does not profess to do anything more than to relieve destitution when it endangers life. Whether this opportunity of labour shall be given by emigration or home employment is a question of the highest moment, and both may be advantageous in their way. If, however, as Dr. Stallard states, discriminate and excessive charity on the one hand, and the repressive Poor-law system on the other, contribute to the increase of pauperism, the subject is worthy the attention of the legislature, since it cannot be denied that the state of the indigent classes is becoming most oppressive upon the ratepayers, and serious, if not dangerous, to the community at large.—I am, &c.,

OBSERVER.

Inhalt:

  • Social cases. 1869