'The Other Side' (1-21-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (January 21, 1941)

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Every question has two sides. Only by looking at both can we arrive at an intelligent conclusion. Since the complaint of a woman on relief was printed in this column, I want to give the reply of a relief investigator who has served as such for several years.

He says:

I do not blame the deserted woman for feeling as she does. In her circumstances, I too would feel like slapping someone. But she should aim at those who cause her troubles.

The relief investigator is required to ask all those questions about financial resources in order to keep his job, although, I think, he could get the answers by more diplomatic and indirect methods.

It is too bad that this woman and thousands like her do not realize that rules and regulations for investigators come from county and state relief associations, who in turn are dominated by legislators.

The politicians, in response to pressure from people who care nothing about the misery of inadequate relief, try to keep as low as possible the appropriations for relief. The administrators, in attempts to keep within the amounts allocated by legislators, demand that each recipient be thoroughly and constantly investigated. Thus the allowances for each recipient can be kept or reduced to the absolute minimum.

So, you see, even if the investigator improved his interviewing technique, the woman’s circumstances would not be materially improved. Those who have worked for adequate relief have always been told that the tax burden would be too large to supply it. Yet witness now the amounts granted for armaments.

When everything has been said on this question, the success of all our Deals, Old or New, depends upon one thing: Are we kind to each other?

And there is yet another truth which those who love the democratic way of life dare not overlook. Man is what his habits make him. Habits of dependence, fostered through several generations, are certain to breed a race of incompetent, unreliable weaklings. I believe we must not allow our poor to live upon doles. Somehow, some way, they must have jobs and be persuaded to take pride in them, or a dictator will be necessary and inevitable.

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