Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/512

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and the spirit in which it is accepted. In a well-conducted pension system the administrators have in the main to come to a judicial determination as to whether a specific individual has complied with the conditions or not. If he has so complied, the awarding of the pension is very much like the payment of a salary.

Most persons who have thought concerning this matter feel much more strongly the argument that pensions discourage thrift than they do the objection that they cause a loss of independence. Thrift is a fundamental human virtue. Hard to build up in races and individuals, it is easy to break down in both. The true course in the training of human individuals and in the training of human communities would seem to be not to set thrift in opposition to the moral results achieved by a pension system, but to realize that the growth of thrift is analogous to the growth of all spiritual and moral faculties. It is just because the habit of thrift is so difficult to acquire and to retain that pensions are not antagonistic to it. The security given by a pension system is really the acquisition of a certain equity which will result in benefit to those who participate in it. Such a consideration, if rightly used, can be made to minister to the idea of thrift, not to break it down.

In fact, the whole theory that possible destitution in old age is the prime cause of thrift seems to need revision. Hope, not fear, is the great moving power in humanity. To save so that the income will be a decent support seems to many, and these often in highly respectable callings, so hopeless a task that to undertake it unaided appears foolish, but with a living assured in old age there is an incentive to save in order that additional pleasures or greater advantages for others might then be possible. It must, however, be admitted that the contributory type of pension lends itself more directly to the upbuilding of such a spirit than the non-contributory type. From the larger economic as well as from the larger moral standpoint the plan of a contributory pension seems to promise least danger to society and the greatest result. I am inclined to believe from such evidence as the pension systems which now exist can furnish that a justly regulated compulsory contributory pension system, on the whole, promises most both for the individual and for the social organization.

The economic argument that pensions depress wages is too vague to furnish any sound basis of objection. From the economic point of view the argument has weight, but in the actual administration of business so many factors influence wages that a pension, even if it exercised its influence on this side, must have a relatively small effect. It may be true that in certain cases the existence of a pension system may be used to persuade a man to enter a given calling and to undertake a given line of work for a smaller recompense on the ground that he is to receive a pension in the future. This argument certainly may apply to teachers