Problems of Poverty eBook

John A. Hobson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about Problems of Poverty.
How can the women of Cradley Heath engaged in wielding huge sledge-hammers, or carrying on their neck a hundredweight of chain for twelve or fourteen hours a day, in order to earn five or seven shillings a week, bear or rear healthy children?  What “hope of our race” can we expect from the average London factory hand?  What “home” is she capable of making for her husband and her children?  The high death-rate of the “slum” children must be largely attributed to the fact that the women are factory workers first and mothers afterwards.  Roscher, the German economist, assigns as the reason why the Jewish population of Prussia increases so much faster than the Christian, the fact that the Jewish mothers seldom go out of their own homes to work.[36] One of the chief social dangers of the age is the effect of industrial work upon the motherhood of the race.  Surely, the first duty of society should be to secure healthy conditions for the lives of the young, so as to lay a firm physical foundation for the progress of the race.

This we neglect to do when we look with indifference or complacency upon the present phase of unrestricted competition in industrial work amongst women.  So long as we refuse to insist, as a nation, that along with the growth of national wealth there shall be secured those conditions of healthy home life requisite for the sound, physical, moral, and intellectual growth of the young, at whatever cost of interference with so-called private liberty of action, we are rendering ourselves as a nation deliberately responsible for the continuance of that creature whose appearance gives a loud lie to our claim of civilization—­the gutter child of our city streets.  Thousands of these children, as we well know, the direct product of economic maladjustment, grow up every year—­in our great cities to pass from babyhood into the street arab, afterwards to become what they may, tramp, pauper, criminal, casual labourer, feeble-bodied, weak-minded, desolate creatures, incapable of strong, continuous effort at any useful work.  These are the children who have never known a healthy home.  With that poverty which compels mothers to be wage-earners, lies no small share of the responsibility of this sin against society and moral progress.  It is true that no sudden general prohibition of married woman’s work would be feasible.  But it is surely to be hoped that with every future rise in the wages and industrial position of male wage-earners, there may be a growing sentiment in favour of a restriction of industrial work among married women.

Chapter IX.

Moral Aspects of Poverty.

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Problems of Poverty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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