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Welfare before the Welfare State

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posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 01:48 AM

Many people think life without the welfare state would be chaos. In their minds, nobody would help support the less fortunate, and there would be riots in the streets. Little do they know that people found innovative ways of supporting each other before the welfare state existed. One of the most important of these ways was the mutual-aid society.

Mutual aid, also known as fraternalism, refers to social organizations that gathered dues and paid benefits to members facing hardship. According to David Beito in From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State, there was a "great stigma" attached to accepting government aid or private charity during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Mutual aid, on the other hand, did not carry the same stigma. It was based on reciprocity: today's mutual-aid recipient could be tomorrow's donor, and vice versa.

Mutual aid was particularly popular among the poor and the working class. For instance, in New York City in 1909 40 percent of families earning less than $1,000 a year, little more than the "living wage," had members who were in mutual-aid societies. Ethnicity, however, was an even greater predictor of mutual-aid membership than income. The "new immigrants," such as the Germans, Bohemians, and Russians, many of whom were Jews, participated in mutual-aid societies at approximately twice the rate of native whites and six times the rate of the Irish. This may have been due to new immigrants' need for an enhanced social safety net.

Some key notes:

• Numerous lodges offered unemployment benefits
• Members of lodges typically paid $2 a year (one day’s salary) for health care (including minor surgeries)
• Mortality rate among members was 6.66 per thousand, better than 9.3 for general populace
• Securities Benefit Association charged $21 for 11-day stay at the lodge hospital, $51 less than other hospitals
• SBA’s sanitarium mortality rate was 4.5 while historical averages were 25.0
• Between 1890 and 1922 71 orphanages were founded by mutual-aid societies.
• American Medical Association gained control over licensing of medical schools in 1912. In 1904 166 medical schools existed but by 1918 only 81 existed, a 51% drop.
• Medical boards threatened doctors with stripping away their licenses if they practiced lodge medicine.
• Mobile Law damaged lodges by requiring a gradual improvement in reserves. Lodges kept reserves low so as to give maximum pay-out. It also required medical examination of all lodge members.

What this can really teach us is that people, when left to their own voluntary actions, band together as fraternal brothers to help each other without government or big business. However as we all know, well many of us, government has an insatiable appetite for absolute authority over all our lives so it did not take him (Wilson) long to viciously attack fraternal organizations designed to support community members. All involvement in these groups were voluntary and designed for mutual aid, that however allowed individuals to thrive and hold themselves up without foreign interference so it could not be tolerated once the great tyrant-in-chief became President (Woodrow Wilson).

Once the state begun regulating its way into our private associations they started to collapse under the weight. Organizations of free-men designed to help one another became a target for government attacks. How could these mutual-aids possibly survive long-term with such oppressive regulatory behavior being forced upon them? They couldn’t and it was that same regulation which destroyed the spirit of voluntary association for mutual benefit that forced us into the welfare state.

Government regulated away our successful private charitable and welfare organizations which brought men together without bureaucracy in favor of a government controlled, top-down, and red-tape infested corrupt welfare state. We were far better off helping each other, bringing members of our community together, without the state. It was them who tore down our private associations so they can run our lives and it is they who have isolated us as individuals from each other.

The time for voluntary cooperation for mutual benefit to return as the period of isolating, family destroying, and bureaucratic welfarism of the state to end has come.
edit on 6/22/2011 by Misoir because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 02:10 AM
Mortality rate was still higher in those days. I don't know how you can wish the old ways to the current situation. Or maybe I do...

More a matter of fine tuning politics surrounding welfare than a problem of intrusive government.

posted on Jun, 22 2011 @ 02:28 AM

Originally posted by Vio1ion
Mortality rate was still higher in those days.

I think common sense would tell you that, yes. Are you saying that mortality rates would not have dropped equally or even more so without the government intereference? Was it government that miraculously created many of the scientific breakthroughs alone? I do not believe so. In fact I would even argue that our present mortality rate would be significantly lower had private individuals and associations been allowed to freely find these breakthroughs without the excessive regulations and restrictions.

I don't know how you can wish the old ways to the current situation. Or maybe I do...

It seems you have a difficult time understanding this, or perhaps you did not read the entire article, either way let me make this simple as possible. Do you think that by removing the welfare state the year 2011 would suddenly become 1911? That is completely unrealistic. Our present day problems would be addressed in a voluntary way by organized individuals for mutual benefit. That would be preferable to our current system where government commits legalized theft because certain individuals in society feel compelled to be compassionate with other individuals' money.

More a matter of fine tuning politics surrounding welfare than a problem of intrusive government.

There is no way to fine-tune something which is completely broken.


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