Слике страница

killing great numbers of them, has now been almost completely banished. Tuberculosis is kept alive by ignorance of people and might be banished as well. We have learned how to control many of the diseases which threaten the lives of babies. The length of human life has been doubled in the last three and a half centuries. But, whereas during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the increase was about four years per century, during the first half of the nineteenth century it rose in Europe to the rate of nine years per century, and during the latter half of the nineteenth century to the rate of about seventeen years per century. In Germany, where medical and sanitary science has reached very high development, the rate of increase during the last period was twenty-seven years per century.

It is estimated that at any time in the United States about three million persons are seriously ill and that fully half of this illness is preventable. Some of it is due to the ignorance of the victim; he does not know how to take care of himself. Much of it exists because no one can protect himself against the ignorance of others. If persons who have contagious diseases are ignorant or careless, they convey diseases to us, no matter how careful we may be. Much more exists because of the conditions under which people now work. If a workshop is unhealthful, if there is dust in the air, or lead in the materials that the worker handles, he may not be able to protect himself from dis

Such cases as this call for help from society as a whole. All of them call for education.

The great issues of freedom at present are not the same as those of a hundred years ago. We are not now afraid that the government will tyrannize over us.


Present problems of liberty

There is, to be sure, always a danger that the majority may for a time forget the rights of the minority. We shall see in the chapter on Union how our system of government attempts to prevent this. But after all, our chief difficulty at present seems to be entirely the opposite. The majority find it very difficult to do things which they really want to do. In business the problem of freedom has taken the form of a conflict between small business men and large corporations or monopolies. In industry it takes the form of a conflict between the kind of freedom which a workman has who makes his own bargains and the kind of freedom he has if he unites with others to make a collective bargain through a union.

Dangers to liberty may come from sources other than government. This is illustrated by religious liberty. Formerly a man might be compelled to attend or contribute to a church against his will. He might be forbidden by the government to meet with those of his own belief. In Catholic countries Protestants were so forbidden; in Protestant countries Catholics were so forbidden. At present it is not the government which interferes with religion; it is business and industry. Some industries have to be carried on continuously. Blast furnaces cannot be allowed to cool down without great loss. Other industries, such as the street railways, the gas and electric lighting plants in cities, supply some form of public service which is needed every day. Of course it has always been necessary to take care of horses and cows, to cook meals, and to care for the sick, but these were home occupations and they did not necessarily interfere with religious observances. On the other hand, those employed in mills and on railways, or in hotels and restaurants,

have now practically no opportunity whatever for one important aspect of religious liberty, namely, freedom to worship with others.

Freedom of speech and of the press is another lib- Freedom erty which was formerly threatened chiefly by the gov- of ernment. At one time it was forbidden to print books speech unless they had first been approved by a public censor. Printers or editors of newspapers were liable to be punished for treason or libel if they criticised the government. Then came a time when the newspapers were nearly all controlled by the ideas of some political party. They were called “ organs." A Democratic newspaper was supposed to approve the measures of the Democratic Party. A Republican newspaper was supposed to approve the Republican measures. А Democratic newspaper advocated the election of any man whom the party nominated, while the Republican newspaper stood by the Republican, regardless of the fitness of his character. This is no longer so completely the case. We have much more freedom and independence so far as party control is concerned.

At the present time the freedom of the press has to encounter another power. Newspapers and magazines are now printed and sold at a very low price. In the great cities the daily newspaper is sold for one or two cents; monthly magazines are sold for a price that scarcely pays for the paper used in them; advertising is depended upon as the chief means of support. If now, the newspaper or magazine expresses opinions which are very hostile to any kind of business, the advertising is sure to feel the effects. Or, perhaps, a newspaper or magazine, like any other business enterprise, needs to borrow money at the banks from time to time. If it has been publishing criticisms of

certain kinds of business which have influence with banks, it may find itself unable to get any funds and so be forced into bankruptcy. In the future probably some way will be found to secure freedom from control by business interests. Even now one check operates. For, unless a paper seems to be at least fairly reliable, and unless it prints a fairly full account of important events, its sale will suffer. Further, it is likely that important news will find at least one newspaper ready to print it, and other newspapers will not like to be accused of suppressing what is printed elsewhere.




E date our life as a nation from 1776,

when the Declaration of Independence was

adopted. It may perhaps be held that America was rather a union of states than a nation until after the Civil War. But union and coöperation in various degrees have been present from the early settlements, and the interesting thing is to note the growth both in the idea of union and in the methods by which coöperation has been made effective.

Dangers from the Indians and from the French, and Various later the quarrel with England, early led the colonists reasons

for to organize themselves for mutual defense and to pro

union mote the general welfare. The first form of union 'proved unsatisfactory and the Constitution was adopted to “ form a more perfect union,” but this was only the beginning. As the country has developed, the idea of union has broadened. At first the ideas of mutual defense against foreign powers, of promoting commerce, of establishing a post office and post roads were prominent, for need of these had been strongly felt. As our country has grown new needs have claimed attention. Some needs, such as schools, health, water supplies, maintaining order on the street, protecting property from thieves and burglars, are cared for by smaller unions, such as villages, towns, or cities; others, such as providing for the helpless or criminal members of society, the insane, the blind, the poor-maintaining

« ПретходнаНастави »