Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/77

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ALTRUISM ECONOMICALLY CONSIDERED,

families—one and all—have but to leave their offspring as naked as little Moses was when deposited at the Nile, either in a vacant lot or upon some handy door-step. Under cover of darkness all is secret. Either a policeman, or the irate citizen whose door-step has been invaded, quickly and safely transfers the waif to an asylum. The reminders of sin and folly, as well as the burdens of the parents, have thus been put far away. Were society organized to encourage this very business, it were impossible to arrange it more satisfactorily. But eternal shame should rest upon the weak-minded, benevolent people who by their ill-advised altruism cultivate such degradation in society! One tenth of the money spent in detecting and punishing these parents for their unnatural crimes would teach society the needed lesson. More pains than we take to catch a murderer should be spent upon detecting these criminals. Every foundling asylum in America should be instantly disorganized.

IV. Insane Asylums.—Upon this kind of altruistic effort, also a boast of the age, there are not sufficient data to warrant so severe denunciation. It is proper, however, to call attention to some suspicious circumstances:

1. The collecting and imprisoning of great masses of such people is unnatural, and the best authorities advocate breaking up the system by substituting homes and separate buildings.

2. To the non-medical observer it is surprising that, while rapid progress is being made in treating many forms of disease such as are caused by minute germs, so little knowledge is being obtained concerning the nature, causes, and cure of insanity. With many physicians, supported by the state in a liberal manner, why are they not bringing forth fruit in this direction? It is said to be because incapable men get places through intrigues, and because so much time is spent in routine work.

3. The number of the insane is on the increase. Some of the immediate causes are understood. Is it not certainly of the utmost importance that facts bearing on these points be circulated, and that great effort be made to check insanity by rooting out of society the immediate and ultimate causes?

The altruistic work suggested by these questions can have no unjustifiable effects. That which has been performed is more questionable, as implied by the changes proposed, and upon further examination may prove more unjustifiable. In any event it is plain that doing good to those now insane may not be of half the importance that it is to find means of preventing insanity in the future.

V. Benevolence in Higher Education.—It used to be a practice to give not only tuition, but even board and clothes, to young men studying theology. It was considered that they were