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POVERTY AND DEPENDENCY
THEIR RELIEF AND PREVENTION
JOHN LEWIS GILLIN, Ph.D.
PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN,
IN Iowa," “WHOLESOME CITIZENS AND
"OUTLINES OF SOCIOLOGY"
Every year gives fresh emphasis to the importance of the problems of poverty and dependency. Definite knowledge of the amounts which the public relief authorities have to expend for dependents has shocked those who had been unaware of the burden thus imposed on the taxpayers. Recent studies by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States have shown an unexpected amount of poverty. We have been so obsessed by the belief that in rich America there is little poverty, except that of the inefficient, that it was startling to learn that a growing number of fairly capable, industrious and frugal people have been pushed into the quagmire. The War with its disturbance of price levels and its psychological effects has quickened our perception of such problems. The draft revealed to us the scandalous volume of physical and mental deficiency in our population. As with a magnifying glass the situation growing out of the War has shown us conditions menacing our prosperity and welfare, the maladjustments in our machinery for managing employment, stabilizing industry, caring for the dependent and preventing the propagation of the inefficient.
It seems, therefore, that the time is ripe for an appraisal of the urgent problems of poverty and dependency. In this book I have tried to present the salient facts concerning these closely related problems. Quantitative measurement of them has been attempted, so far as our present knowledge will permit. In the light of the experience of the last two centuries the methods hitherto used have been critically studied and suggestions of improvement have been made. The discussions of social workers and social philosophers in the National Conference of Social Work, the largest body of people interested in such matters in the United States, have been drawn upon extensively in its preparation. The suggestions of experts in the treatment of dependents and in the prevention of poverty have not been overlooked. My years of experience as social worker and teacher has gone into the content and method of presentation. Counsel has been taken of economics and social philosophy. Failing to find in
any one or two books the materials with which it seemed to me after teaching the subject for fifteen years in two universities a college student should become familiar, I have tried to bring together in this book the gist of discussions for which I have had to send my students to a large number of publications. Since some of these are not available in most college libraries, I have quoted extensively. I cannot hope that out of the wealth of writings upon the subject I have always chosen just those passages which another would choose, but I do cherish the hope that this attempt to survey the literature in a comprehensive way will make the teaching of this important subject easier and will inspire the students to a more serious consideration of problems of the greatest moment.
The book is intended primarily as a text book for classes giving three hours a week to class work during one semester. By using the topics for reports at the end of the chapters it would not be difficult to make it serve for a five-hour course. If the course is limited to two hours a week, certain chapters may be omitted. Since it is intended as a text book, I shall appreciate any helpful criticisms and suggestions from my fellow-teachers.
My obligations for suggestions which have borne fruit in the book are numerous beyond any possibility of mentioning or even remembering. Students and colleagues for fifteen years have been helping to shape the ideas and methods of treatment which here find expression. So far as I have gained from printed materials of sociologists and social workers, I have tried to make acknowledgments in the footnotes. I am under special obligation to my friend and colleague, Professor Edward A. Ross, who has unstintedly given of his time and energy to read the manuscript, and who has made many valuable suggestions. I have to thank also Professor F. E. Haynes of the State University of Iowa; Mr. Edward D. Lynde, Secretary of the Wisconsin State Conference of Social Work; Dr. T. U. McManus of Waterloo, Iowa; Professor John R. Commons, and Mr. J. H. Kolb, my colleagues in the University of Wisconsin, who have read parts of the manuscript and given me the benefit of their criticisms.
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