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some $200,000,000 a year, some 40%, or $80,000,000 being absorbed in administrative expenses.
There is even less provision for sickness, and as far as old age is concerned, there is only a small minority of workers employed by very large corporations, who have established pension systems for retirement in order to meet the problem of superannuation. Finally, practically nothing has been accomplished in unemployment insurance, since a few unions are the only channels through which some unemployment benefits are paid, and the total amount paid scarcely exceeds half a million dollars a year. The frightful distress which accompanies every period of acute unemployment from the very beginning is of course familiar to every student of labor conditions in the United States.
It is impossible to give much information of a more accurate character beyond the very general statements made above because the field of voluntary efforts towards the development of workingmen's insurance was never made the subject of any exhaustive government enquiry. The only study made by the Federal Government (23rd. Report of the U. S. Commissioner of Labor), is nearly 10 years old and is far from being complete, omitting several important branches.
Within the last two or three years, however, there has been very active discussion of the whole social insurance program and the possibilities for some favorable action in the near future have improved materially. The election of a Socialist Congressman in 1911 has brought a socialist bill for old age pensions in 1912, and though this bill was severely criticized for some of its details, it stimulated the discussion of old age provisions. As a result of the severe depressions during the winter of 1913, and following that immediately after the beginning of the war, with the extreme suffering caused by unemployment of millions, unemployment insurance loomed high in the general discussions of necessary measures for relief of the unemployed, and even appeared as an official recommendation of the numerous unemployment commissions organized at the time. In only one state did these plans go as far as the drafting of a bill and an official hearing (Mass., March 1, 1916). The change in the conditions of the labor market occasioned by the sudden appearance of European war orders, especially in the Eastern states for a time obliterated the problem of unemployment, at least from public attention.
Movement for Health Insurance.
The close of the year 1915, did see, however the inauguration of a very energetic campaign for health insurance as the next step in social insurance. This is, at least, formally, due to the American Association for Labor Legislation, which had a social insurance committee at work for some three years at a tentative draft of a bill. This committee succeeded in crystalizing the movement, which finds its support on one hand in the growing familiarity with accident compensation, and on the other in the British precedent of establishing its health insurance system in 1911. Since November, 1915, when the first draft of the A. A. L. L.'s bill appeared, two more drafts, more detailed, were published, and the support found in various advanced circles is very substantial. Bills, slightly modified from the original draft, and, unfortunately, much more meager in their provision, were introduced in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. In Massachusetts the bill led to the establishment of a legislative commission for the study of health insurance, and similar action came very near being taken in New York, when the Senate voted for a commission, but the Assembly adjourned without taking any action. In California a social insurance commission was established earlier in the year, and it decided to devote its investigations primarily to the problem of health insurance.
Though active propaganda in favor of health insurance has been going on in this country for a very short time only, the progress made is considerable. An increasing number of so-called reform organizations, and primarily various national organizations interested in various lines of social progress have gone on record as favoring health insurance, or, at least, are taking active interest in the movement. These include the National Conference of Charities and Correction, the American Public Health Association, the American Medical Association, etc. A large number of private voluntary committees on State or local lines have been organized for the study or advocacy of health insurance. The movement is at present strongest in New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, and California, but some work is also being done in New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, and Michigan.
It is true that the movement is at present largely limited to social workers, reformers, charity workers and similar "intellectual" groups, which come into close contact with problem of destitution and relief. But already the National Association of Manufacturers, a thoroughly reactionary body, has come out definitely in favor of compulsory
health insurance. When the early history of the compensation movement in this country is analyzed, its similarity with the present stage in health insurance must be recognized and early legislation on the subject becomes almost a certainty
In view of this, the attitude of labor becomes a matter of great importance. As far as the Socialist movement is concerned, it has stood generally, though without very great enthusiasm for a complete program of social insurance. Recently interest in legislation of this type has become more active, as evidenced by a bill introduced by the Socialist Congressman Meyer London for a federal commission for the study of social insurance, which at this writing has been reported out by the Committee on Labor and has a fighting chance of favorable action.
Organized labor has taken a sceptical or non-committal attitude in so far as it is not openly hostile. This, however, has also been the early attitude towards compensation legislation. Several arguments in favor of such an attitude are made. To begin with there is the general attitude of scepticism towards all labor legislation, especially when initiated by "outsiders." There is also objection to, and fear of, the principle of compulsion as an unwarranted interference with personal liberty. There is a suspicion entirely unwarranted by the experience of health insurance that it might lead to compulsory medical examination and rejection of sub-standard workmen from employment. There is also a fear that the establishment of a compulsory system may interfere with the benefit features of the labor organizations and in this way with the very growth of the organizations.
A good many of these fears are claimed by the advocates of health insurance to be due to a misunderstanding of the purposes and methods of compulsory social insurance. Evidently the existence of these fears places a burden of educational work upon the socialist movement which is more ready to accept the necessity of coercive and protective action through legislation.
There is, however, a more direct duty upon the Socialist movement in connection with approaching health insurance legislation. Its character, its beneficial results, its administrative methods-everything is subject to very substantial fluctuations. Whether health insurance is to become a real force for the betterment of the conditions of the wage workers life, or whether it is to remain, like the American compensation legislation, a mere sop to the wage worker, will largely depend upon the activity of the Socialist movement. Bibliography.
I. M. Rubinow, "Social Insurance"; Professor Henry Seager, "Social Insurance."
INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENTS IN UNITED STATES. From Statement of Royal Meeker, Commissioner U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Any attempt to give the number of industrial accidents occurring in the United States must be the result of estimates, for adequate records are not yet in existence. In the first place, most of the States do not yet receive satisfactory reports. Before the enactment of compensation laws, reports were exceedingly unsatisfactory, as many employers entirely neglected making reports of their industrial accidents to any State official. With the coming into effect of the compensation laws, this condition is rapidly being changed for the better, but such a change cannot come about in one or two years. A considerable period is necessary for the education of the employer as to the importance of accident reporting, even in his own interest.
A second reason for the lack of adequate records and reports, even under compensation laws, is the lack of uniformity in requirements. The laws are not uniform in covering all industrial employments. Establishments below a certain size are in some cases excluded. Agriculture is in most cases excluded, while railroad employments, so far as those persons employed in interstate commerce are concerned, are covered by the reports to the Interstate Commerce Commission. These reports have heretofore not been entirely satisfactory. The Interstate Commerce Commission's definition of a fatal accident was formerly one where death ensued within 24 hours of the accident. It is probable that this omitted 8 or 10 per cent of the actual fatalities. The Commission's reports of non-fatal accidents have probably also been incomplete. New rules, however, have recently been put into effect by the Commission, and it is probable that these rules, together with the educational effect of workmen's compensation laws, and the safety movement will result in greatly improved statistics of accidents.
The estimates given in bulletin 157, give the number of fatal industrial accidents in a year at 25,000, and the number of non-fatal injuries involving a disability of more than four weeks at approximately 700,000, but the accident disabilities of four weeks and less greatly exceed in number those of over four weeks. According to the best information available, approximately 80% of all accidents involving a disability of more than one day are those in which the disability is four weeks and less. If, therefore, it is desired to include in the estimate of industrial accidents all those in which the disability is more than one day, the total number of industrial accidents would be approximately 3,625,000, of which approxi
mately 60% or 2,175,000, involved a disability of more than one week, and approximately 40%, or 1,450,000 involved a disability of one week or less.
Estimate of Fatal Industrial Accidents in the United States in 1913, by Industry Groups.
BY FREDERICK L. HOFFMAN.
(Bulletin U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, No. 157, p. 6.)
Among important general works of reference mention may be made of the treatise on "Work Accidents and the Law," by Crystal Eastman, published in 1910 in connection with the Pittsburgh Survey; the volume on "Risks in Modern Industry," published by the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 1911, and, finally the proceedings of the first and second annual meetings of the National Council for Industrial Safety, better known as the Co-operative Safety Congress.
The labor press will not begin to be the power it should be until the people in whose interests it is published begin to show it a little of the deference and respect that they now bestow upon the press of their opponents.
When the workers acquire the virtue of self-dependence a great many "friends of labor" will have to adopt some other profession.