The Scrap Pile
( Originally Published 1916 )
THE human scrap pile.
The refuse, the discard, the useless, the non-producers, the wasters, the parasites, the loafers, the do-nothings, the consumers of unearned food, the wearers of given clothes, the stalled, fattened, curried, sleek human animals devouring the sub-stance of them that sweat and toil.
Wherever you find an idle group you find a septic point in mankind.
Among the "rights of man" there is no right to work not.
The conscience of the Twentieth Century thunders the commandment of Carlyle: "Find thy work ! Produce ! Produce ! In God's name, pro-duce !"
The prosperity of America is attacked already by that species of vermin that always infest accumulated wealth, vested privilege, old-standing institutions.
The tramps, hoboes, and slum loafers are not our severest menace. The unemployed rich men, who do nothing but amuse themselves and spend their own or their father's money, are just as bad.
The women who flit from northern fashionable resort hotels in summer to southern fashionable hotels in winter, who spend their days in motoring and their evenings at cards, whose whole energy is occupied in dress and schemes of precedence, are but particles of that heap of waste and poison that must be swept away before democracy shall find a basis of justice and peace. They are the seed of the coming revolution. They are the kindlings for the cleansing fires of Des-tiny.
There is direct connection between the work-house convicts and the hangers-about at the snob palaces of American plutocracy.
A. A. McCormick, president of the County Board of Cook County (Chicago), speaking of the efforts being made to put paupers and out-casts to work, observed:
"The human scrap pile for which we have to pay is cluttered up, not alone with the paupers and the `down and outs,' but with the idle rich, who sit around luxurious hotels and watering places with nothing to do but overeat and sleep. I was astounded by the waste of human energy at the county institutions, but I am appalled when I think of that far greater waste of energy among those whose wants have been provided for and who have nothing to do but dress for dinner.
"We have 2,500 persons sitting with folded hands in our county institutions, content because their wants have been provided for. I could not help thinking of our wealthy outcasts in this connection. They are really beyond the pale of human effort, for they are doing nothing that is of good to anybody, not even to themselves.
"The idle wealthy are going on the scrap pile voluntarily. They are not only useless but harmful. Somebody ought to wake them up and make them think."