The San Bernardino County Sun from San Bernardino, California on March 3, 1940 · Page 30
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The San Bernardino County Sun from San Bernardino, California · Page 30

San Bernardino, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 3, 1940
Page 30
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L To Paraphrase Matthew: "Ye Have By Paul Friggens Tt, Pi:f AK.,o A:U Y.. " fi ". Wki A I Tl V Ii. C l f9fri f WadHl And m i ni5 campaign i ear it jeems i jwr 1 "With Us" More Than Ever Before BUSINESSMEN used to watch the stock market. Now they watch the relief rolls. You can't even joke about the reliefers; your best friend may be one. Relief will probably be the biggest domestic campaign issue in 1940. It may swing the presidential election. But don't blame the politicians if they get nowhere with the relief issue this year or the year after. They never have. Relief is as old as man. And the remedies are almost as old. The Egyptians tried WPA, probably built the pyramids with the unemployed. The Romans went a step further with a New Deal nearly 2500 years before Roosevelt. They tried direct relief, work relief, farm relief, housing, a federal theater project, and finally a sort of stamp or ticket system such as the United States is just now getting under way. The old Greeks used to brag that their cities helped feed each other and the Chinese had the CCC 4000 years ago. The chiselers go back a long way, too. They caused a senatorial investigation of relief in Rome. They boosted the relief costs in England and threw the country into an uproar a century ago. They hit America with the first colonists. You can't even blame the machine age at a new factor in relief. Technological unemployment put 300,000 families on the dole in ancient Rome. No mayor of Detroit or Cleveland ever worried more than the Roman tribunes. And if John Steinbeck could whizz back through the years he would find there were "okies" from Cleopatra to California. "PELIEF is rooted like that. So the issue likely to be foremost and hottest in 1940 is at once the oldest in human history. Glimpse the panorama briefly. "For ye have the poor always with you," wrote Matthew in the Bible. There was concrete recognition of the problem. Civilization was recognizing it on many sides by that time in history. The dawn of relief had come with the system of private property and the natural step after property, sharing. Hebraic law was replete with injunctions to aid the poor and out of this law emerged probably the world's first system of organized relief. One of the first commands of early Hebraic law was giving to prevent suffering and the Jews seemed to thrive on the program. "And if thy brother be waxen poor and fallen in decay with thee then shalt thou relieve him, yea, though he be a stranger or a sojourner, so that he may live with thee." So read the Hebraic law and the grain was left in the corners of the fields and along the fences for the poor and underprivileged and there was a tax, at least 10 per cent of incomes, which was set aside partly to finance relief. The Hindus met the problem too and Manu, legendary son of Brahma, listed "giving to the poor" as among the six required acts of the' higher castes. China, perhaps, may antedate even the Hebrews. The earliest records of human relief come from China, where the issue flared 5000 years ago. There is some evidence the great Chinese Wall was built with labor of unem ployed over a period of several hundred years, and even before that China had introduced the CCC. Under this Chinese CCC, any male child could be registered on the military lists at birth to draw pay until he was grown. This pay, like Uncle Sam's checks today, was small, but it helped the poor families along. At the same time the government was training healthy youths who could be mobilized to fight if necessary. The Chinese introduced general direct relief too. The government opened federal grain storehouses in time of famine, and besides this much of the federal revenues went to care for aged and infirm. T ATER, the ancient Greeks faced the re-L' lief problem squarely and set up a system that made relief more popular than a regular job. The criticisms, like those hurled at the New Deal on this score, probably made lively talk in the Greek barbershops and rural general stores. Relief got so good in Greece the country became a sort of mecca for migratory workers from other countries. The Athenian law commanded relief to strangers and the Greek city states boasted no ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-clothed. But the Greeks found relief can breed grief. They discovered the chiseler and lost no time trying to legislate him off the rolls. They passed a law declaring able-bodied men not working were unfit to live, and they made a test case of one CIcanthes. But Cleanthes proved he puttered in the garden and around the house and the chiseling probably went right on. At about the same time the Egyptians, faced with the same problem, conceived the pyramids. The slaves had to be fed anyhow, the Pharaohs may have reasoned, with the result the slaves built the pyramids as a sort ol WPA-PWA project to end all projects. But it was the Romans who really tackled the relief problem in all its forms and devised the remedies that, used today, have helped to unbalance the United States budget, elect and defeat candidates, create a 1940 campaign issue neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want to face. rPHE Romans met relief with a New Deal nearly 25 centuries before Roosevelt. Things went well with the empire until monopoly crowded out the small business man and Relief is as old as man. The Chinese probably built their great wall, top left, with reliefers recruited thousands of years ago. The Romans in their great forum, the ruins of which are shown top right, debated the relief question and had a New Deal 2400 years before Roosevelt. Even America's first colonists in Virginia had relief problems. The illustration shows the trial of John Smith in Virginia as depicted by C. Y. Turner on a mural in the county courthouse, Cleveland, Ohio. (Every Week MHKnzine 1'rinted In U. S. poor prices ruined the farmers. Then the breadlines began to form. At first the rich made gifts to the poor (usually about election time) but at length gifts wouldn't go around. Technological unemployment put 300,000 families in Rome on the relief rolls. Rome, with a population of less than 2,000,000, was spending $3,000,-000 to $4,000,000 a year on its poor. This could not last. It didn't. The farmers, beset with low prices, unfair tariffs, dumping of Egyptian grain on the Roman markets, rebelled. So Licinius Stollo in 367 B. C. hurriedly passed some reforms. Leasings were restricted to stop monopoly and Roman citizens were ordered to work. But not for long. The tories and liberals clashed violently with the result the reliefers got lost in the struggle. One noble Roman raised his head to charge graft in the administration of relief and succeeded in getting a senatorial investigation. He was Marcus Manlius. But he was no match for the senators. They found he had no evidence for his allegations and they put him in jail for his attack. The people finally got him out, but Marcus was through politically. There was one definite effort made to pick colonists from the poorest Roman citizens and open up new government tracts probably the original Matanuska Valley idea. So Rome muddled along with the relief problem until the first New Deal, introduced by the Gracchus family. They practically left nothing for the 1940 candidates to advocate. rpiBERIUS SEMPRONIUS GRAC- CHUS started the Roman New Deal, his two sons, T. S., Jr., and Gaius Gracchus, carried it on. Tiberius struck to end the evils of slave labor and big landed estates. He had won a few land reforms when he died. Tiberius, Jr., took over as tribune and, after a bitter constitutional light, won the redistribution of land to the small farmers. At the same time he began typical Rooseveltian farm relief measures,' granting federal feed and seed loans, to put these farmers back on their feet. He was breaking new ground and a sort of Roman Liberty League fought him bitterly. The re-election campaign furnished the real dynamite. There was no Roman law forbidding running for re-election, but tradition was against it. Tiberius cast aside tradition and announced his candidacy. There were cries of "dictatorship" and a terrific campaign. In the end Tiberius was killed in a riot and the New Deal was set back four years until his brother, Gaius, succeeded him. But Gaius was also a New Dealer and lie started in right where Tiberius left off. He launched a sweeping Roman PWA, building hundreds of miles of the finest roads the ancient world had known. Some of them still are in use. Gaius also tried resettlement projects and federal housing, offering low rentals. And Gaius introduced a sort of stamp or The Egy was prob ect, the bu. The slaves ha, so the Pharaoh ticket plan for relief are just now trying ticket system a we tickets made of wo' These tickets entitle the donor's warehouse plus commodities wer But all this cost th day. Taxes went up-l All of which rnach ular when he sought tatorship" was chargoi was killed in rioting. Drusus "played f ery," whooped the r Caesar took over he on direct relief in Ro dcred 150.000 purge number arose again under succeeding ru perished without solv A iD when the st; up the burden sound basis but failed was sunk in anoth Charlemagne establi relief system, levying By 1 400 Europe Several German citie instance, appointed Luther proposed reli city government, cm and chiselers droppet was getting scientific In England pub appropriated in 1 38l law was passed, wh the relief legislation States today. This ships, parishes and In 1795 Berksl minimum wage law ment paid the differ meet the law. En forced wages down ing, discovered in risen from $21,001 16 years. So England tried which was colomzii ica. Colonial Virp lief project and the tically relief clients' food. Relief has l; Boston was spc organized relief by New York were f nation grew, relief administered almost It was the New on the old Roman f Deal, after seven y; the Romans did; n est problem is still I vwhat Y, proj- amids. tnyhow j work. nerican cities -r this relief would give to the poor. to draw on id grain. Sur-ihutcd. is it costr, to- icchus unpop-Again "dic-ilierius, Gaius xeedrd him. i human mis-When Julius 3,000 persons nmediatcly or-rolls. But the ustus, kept up he end Rome f problem. le church look put relief on a A. D. Europe depression and first "modern" eed the needy. ?t beggar army, t, Cologne, for "dors. Martin ie placed undr be investigated ior the first time unds were first )l the Elizabeth lasis of most of and the United k relief in town- ind, adopted a rich the govern- employer didn't liseled this time, iment, investigat- rchel costs had $40,000,000 in ; measures, one of e poor in Amer-partly a poor re-athers were prac-g on Indians for ""us since. ,1,000 a year on i Philadelphia and burden. As the th it but it was in a local basis, it put relief back ms And the New idrg out just what at the world's old ie toughest.

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