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by perhaps fifteen or twenty billions so as to include the unincorporated business properties. The city and town real estate, not owned by firms or corporations, must equal tens of billions additional. A highly conservative statement of the problem would place the value of potential income-yielding property in the United States at a sum very considerably in excess of 170 billions.
The figures stagger the imagination. They are unthinkably vast, yet they represent, though only roughly, the facts of possible income-yielding property values in the United States.
The possibilities of property income from the total income yielding property may be suggested. If the potential income-yielding property of the country (estimated as "considerably in excess of 170 billions") paid a return at the rate of 3 per cent on its stated value, the total amount of property income would be considerably more than five billions of dollars. If it paid a return of 6 per cent, the total amount of property income would be considerably more than ten billions of dollars. These are the sums that might be paid annually to the owners of property in the United States.
The totals for possible property income may be compared with some service income totals. The wages and salaries paid by the manufacturing industries of the United States in 1909 were $4,365,612,851; the wages and salaries paid by the railroads in 1912 were $1,252,347,697; the wages and salaries paid by all of the mines and quarries in 1909 were $640,167,630. Together these figures total only six and a half billions.
LOW WAGES AND PROSTITUTION.*
The question as to whether the low wages paid to women workers are an appreciable cause of prostitution has been much discussed, and, if the truth be told, but little studied— at least until very recently. It is true that nearly every Vice Report for the last two decades has expressed an opinion on the question—and this opinion has almost invariably been that there is little or no connection between the two elements-but the problem has always been dealt with collaterally, as a small adjunct to an investigation of the general problem of prostitution, and an inquiry into this particular phase of it has rarely been made one of the express objects of research. Nevertheless, commissions seem to have felt it necessary to express an opinion on the subject, doubtless because of the great public interest therein. It remained for the Vice Committee of the Illinois State Senate to cover the ground exhaustively. This committee
was appointed in 1913, and, after three years of thoroughgoing and painstaking investigation into this and other phases of the vice problem, has just published the results of its inquiry. Its finding is unequivocal, clear-cut, and of unmistakable import:
"Your committee finds ... that thousands of girls are driven into prostitution because of the sheer inability to keep body and soul together on the low wages received by them."
Now it is well known that there is an organized business of prostitution; that it is tremendously profitable for its owners who by the way are practically all men-; and what is most important that the business's supply of prostitutes is not equal to the demand. Miss Jane Addams says: "Over and over again in the criminal proceedings against the men engaged in this traffic, when questioned as to their motives, they have given the simple reply 'that more girls are needed' and that 'they were promised big money for them.' General Bingham, former Police Commissioner of New York City says:
"The procurer keeps up the supply of women, which except for his industrious labors would fall far below its present volume . . . so unwilling are women to debase themselves, that the cadet, the dance hall, the Raines Law hotel, false marriages, drink, and even physical force are necessary to keep the hideous thing alive."
The Procurer's Opportunity.
Can a more likely recruiting ground for the labors of procurers be imagined than the ranks of $6 a week working women who need $8 to live? Not only are they in the field, but they seem to concentrate their efforts on the women suffering under the greatest economic pressure-a natural enough policy. It goes without saying that a woman with no job is worse off than a woman with one, even though that job net but $6 a week. Accordingly it has been found that employment agencies are frequently used as a recruiting ground by these procurers, and, in some cases it was discovered that the agencies were in active co-operation with them. The Illinois Commission speaks of the "manager who found his factory besieged with the agents of professional white slavery” (p. 35). This factory is not an exception to the rule, if evidence gathered by a number of investigations is to be believed. Cheap amusement places, the only kind that a $6 a week woman would be likely to patronize, are also infested with these human vultures.
But the greatest danger the working woman faces is the "gentleman friend" he who stands ready to bridge the deficit in return for a sacrifice of virtue. One of the most re
markable findings of the Illinois Committee was that of the existence of the "call-girl system, serving 'respectable' men with 'respectable' girls and protecting the reputation of both. How many thousands of girls are enmeshed in its toils your committee is not in a position to state. The reports of the investigators, however, leave no doubt that the number is very large. Here the low wage received by working girls plays a part so conspicuous that none can ignore it as a vital factor in the insidious industry. That a large majority of the girls on 'call lists' that have been discovered, are in employment during the day time, is undisputed. Some of them are thus bridging the deficit between the wage paid, them and the cost of their existence." A million women below the bread-line and a "call girl" system of colossal proportions. Is it possible that there is no connection? The place of the "gentleman friend" as a supplementary source of income has even been recognized by employers. Says the Federal Report on Woman Labor (1911): "The story of the superintendent of employees who says to the girl protesting against the small wage 'but haven't you a man friend to help support you?' is current in every city. Its very prevalence is the best proof of its truth" (Vol. 5, p. 30). A correspondent of the Illinois Commission writes: "The girls the Vice Commission interviewed were the girls in the brothels-those girls whose lives are closed-but they are not so horribly pitiable as the girls with whom I come in constant contact-who are eking out that shortage in wage by occasional delinquency. The woman who is in the gutter cannot tear at your heart strings like the girl you are watching as she starts and pursues that road. . . . I would rather watch a girl dying by inches." (p. 828.)
The First Step Downward.
Often a struggling girl's first step downward is taken not with a view to immediate pecuniary reward but in the hope of future support. Says the Illinois Commission "The presumption is incontrovertible that the girl whose means are inadequate properly to meet the items of a bare existence is least fortified to resist prenuptial demands, the denial of which she may fear will cost a husband, while the granting might open the matrimonial door of escape from all the miseries of starvation. The girl gambles rather than makes open sale." (p. 30.)
Often the girl loses in this "gamble" for matrimonial support, for men know and play upon her anxiety to marry. She becomes a prey to men, who, as the Chicago Commission of 1911 says, "are so low that they have lost even a sense of sportsmanship, and who seek as their game an under-fed,
a tired, and a lonely girl." "The girl who is below the bread line, who is slipping weekly farther and farther into debt and misery seldom recovers from the first moral lapse." (Illinois Report p. 31.) She feels that her fight for virtue is lost, that she is a "bad girl," and she has no heart left for the hopeless struggles against want and misery. So she makes "open sale." Here, unquestionably, it is the absolute destitution that low wages mean, that has caused the initial vulnerability to the wiles of seducers, as it has caused the subsequent continuance in immorality when the girl feels that she has nothing left to fight for.
But often a girl has no chance to "gamble" for matrimonial support. "There is testimony of authenticity scarcely to be questioned in the stenographic record of girls deliberately selling their virtue under extreme economic stress." (Ill. Report, p. 28.) That is, making open sale in the first
It is clear that low wages are the determining factor in all the above cases. Was the Illinois Commission wrong in its conclusion that "thousands of girls are driven into prostitution because of their sheer inability to keep body and soul together on the low wages received by them"? Surely, the admitted facts of American industrial life do not disprove the finding, and the Illinois Commission is prepared to back up its conclusion with plenty of evidence:
"By the testimony of the girl victims in one unbroken narrative of hopeless struggle; by the reports of their private conversation from experienced investigators; by the observations and judgments of social workers whose integrity has never been questioned; and, over and above all, by the figures of what the girls are actually paid, and of what it actually costs them to live, the hideous deficit and the more hideous contemplation of how sometimes that deficit may be bridged; is your committee brought irretrievably to this finding. It is not a matter of sentiment or of emotion, or of opinion. It is the fact, cold, not nice, uncomplimentary to all of us; but nevertheless the fact." (p. 28.)
*Report of the Senate Vice Commission, Illinois, 1916.
By I. M. RUBINOW.
Of all modern countries with a high development of capitalist system of production, the United States is practically the only one without any system of social insurance for its wage workers. Of the six well defined systems of social insurance for workmen, namely: (1) against industrial accidents, (2) against sickness, (3) against invalidity, (4) against old age, (5) against unemployment, and (6) against premature death, or insurance of pension for widows and orphans, only the first one has materially developed during the last five years (see article on Compensation). As a result the American wage worker, notwithstanding his higher earning capacity is much less protected against the common emergencies of life than his German or English competitor. The only excuse for including this topic in this book is the fact that during 1915 the efforts towards introducing some such system in this country became sufficiently important to permit us to speak at least of a social insurance movement.
Of course, the American workman is not unfamiliar with the principle of insurance. Through commercial or co-operative channels he carries a very large amount of voluntary insurance, and of late employers, especially large employers, have made many efforts to establish insurance schemes within their plants, often subsidizing them substantially, and sometimes assuming the entire cost. The most familiar co-operative channels are: the trade union funds, giving sick benefits occasionally, invalidity and old age benefits, and even unemployment benefits, though in the American labor organizations these benefit funds are much less developed than in England or Germany. A few special workingmen's benefit societies exist, giving sick and also small death benefits. These societies are largely organized by workingmen of foreign descent. Wage workers also constitute a substantial proportion of the membership of the fraternal orders, somewhat akin to the English friendly societies, but giving a good deal more life insurance and less sickness (health) insurance.
Costly Commercial Insurance.
Finally in consequence of a very aggressive selling system commercial insurance has succeeded in insuring well nigh the entire 25,000,000 wage workers and their families for small death benefits, which are in reality little but funeral benefits, and because of the expensive system of weekly collection of small premiums, cost the American wage earner