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Dr MacGregor, in' h&treport on the hospitals and charitable' institutions of the Colony'for the twelve moqtjiiaended March 31 last, devotes the gSnefal remarks with which he as usual supplements official information and statistics exclusively to the question of outdoor relief, upon which he has expressed himself, it may be recollected, very plainly in successive years. He has so long and so vainly,-he says, tried to rouse Parliament and the country to the incalculable evils of the present system in New Zealand that “ he thinks it “better in this report to quote from the “ presidential address at the National “American Congress of Charities in 1896,”: which is very much to the point and the purpose. The President of the Congress, Mr A. D. Weight, of Wisconsin, in the ebur/se of this address, remarks with approval what he terms “ the new' philanthropy of the dawn of tho twentieth century.” This, philanthropy, he says,, studies causes' as well as symptoms; v and considers classes as well as individuals. On the practical side it- tries to improve conditions, thus- changing the environment of the defective. , It tries to build up character, as well as to relieve or punish, believing that the essential cause of pauperism and crime is usually some defect inside the pauper or criminal,.as well as bad conditions around him, and it seeks for prevention as well as cure. Outdoor relief, he goes on to say, does not improve the conditions of the pauper ; it does not build up- his character; it neither prevents , nor cures pauperism. It_ is, therefore, contrary 'to the principles of the new philanthropy, which would meet the same case by a system of friendly visiting arid labor bureaus;'arid where these failed to cure would'place adult paupers in institutions “ where they- “ could not propagate their parasitical ’ “ blood nor teach their accompanying “vices.” The' ; iiew philanthropy, the president declared, ■ was slowly winning its way. It was “cutting off tho entail “of hereditary pauperism and crime and “insanity and idiocy in a very large “ degree by kecpingdefectivesin institutions “ which resemble Heaven at least in one “ particular, because there is neither “ marrying nhr giving in marriage in them. “Viewed in this light, the immense mass “ of people held in mild imprisonment in “ State and local institutions are, on the “ whole, wisely kept there. Unless we are “ prepared for such drastic measures as “ would hardly be tolerated, we must “cut off defective heredity by the “ more expensive method of wholesale “ imprisonment.” Remarking upon these words, Dr MacGregor says “outdoor “relief is'as catching as smallpox, and“just as deadly” ; and he proceeds with his own comments on existing conditions. In 1890, he states, a Bill on the lines indicated by the president was introduced in the New Zealand Parliament; two' years ago it was recast, leaving out “ the “cardinal principle of imprisonment for “all able-bodied loafers who would not “ work. The reason for leaving this key- “ stone out of the arch was that public “opinion was not ripe for such a “drastic step. We are ’so given “ over to ’ weak sentimentalism, ■in “ New Zealand in all that relates to the “problem of poverty that probably we “ shall have to be taught by hard expedience before any Government can be ex- “ pected to grasp the nettle.” All over New Zealand, the Inspector declares, the State subsidy for indiscriminate outdoor relief is the most effective scherne that could be devised for the “ systematic cultivation of “ social parasites. We carefully hatch them “ out, and lay them down in the ‘ alimen- “ tary tractsof society,’and wecalltheinsano “proceeding philanthropy.” No man, he proceeds to say, can feel more deeply than himself the fact that those who have lapsed froiri self-respect and independence have probably been more sinned against than sinning, especially since the beginning of the age of machinery, with all accumulation of products; “ but salv.s populi supremo, lex” (the safety of the Commonwealth is the highest law). That, he affirms, is the sole justification, the only valid excuse, for such legislation as he believes to be inevitable. He has termed, he goes on to say, the system of giving outdoor relief indiscriminate. It is so all over the country, but it is worse in Wellington than anywhere else. And in this belief he had instructed Mrs Grace Neill, the assistant inspector, to attend the meetings of the Benevolent Trustees, and thereafter to personally visit and examine in every possible way the recipients of aid—their homes and environment. Mrs Neill carried out these instructions, and in her report she states inter alia that after personally visiting in their homes so many of the cases receiving relief she is more than ever convinced that , tho existing mode of outdoor relief “en- “ courages a cancerous growth of pauperism “aud many another social evils.” It is impossible, she continues, to sift truth from concealment of facts of even direct falsehood as each applicant comes and tells her tale to the Board. “ Plausibility “ usually carries the day, and unless some “flagrant deceit can be proved—a well“nigh futile task—she' may remain' a “ pensioner for an indefinite period.”

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Bibliographic details

CHARITABLE AID., Evening Star, Issue 10459, 1 November 1897

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CHARITABLE AID. Evening Star, Issue 10459, 1 November 1897