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ington, is running on part time. Sharing work isn't the
answer ; increasing work may be.

Perhaps we might make acceptance of the program easier
by the simple device of a change in our national bookkeep-
ing. Since balancing the budget has become our great fetish,
why not keep our public books as private books are kept?
Instead of charging permanent improvements such as dams,
postoffices, roads and hospitals to operating expenses, let the
government set them up as "Plant and Equipment" just as
private industry does. Treat them as assets instead of liabili-
ties, for such they are. Perhaps such a simple change in our
bookkeeping methods might end this bugaboo, and cure the
insomnia of some of our business Jeremiahs.

A SSUMING that our premise is sound and an integrated
^ * work and assistance program essential, we're still a
long way from getting it. Everybody wants peace, too ! Who
is to sponsor such a program ? Not industry. The "voice of
business," which is by no means synonymous with the brains
of business, will stridently resist it. And of course it will
face opposition from that section of the press which like a
barometer, always registers a "low" when there's depression
among its advertisers. Nor can we count on much help from
agriculture. Farmers so long have been subsidized by a sur-
plus of cheap labor that they may resist any change. Who
then is to sponsor the cause? Not welfare workers, but
labor! Labor employed and labor unemployed. Workers
have learned a bitter lesson during the past few years.
Business cycles now mean more to them than lines on a
chart. Downward swings of the curve that to economists
mean but a minus deflection from the norm, to them spell
disaster.

Already labor is lining up its forces. The two great union
camps, divided on many lines, are fusing here, and to their
voices will be added those of unorganized labor, and those
on relief vainly seeking work. Only the ground swell is
now apparent ; the movement is still slow but gains strength
day by day. When it reaches full volume its pressure will
be resistless. Recall how the G.A.R. and the American
Legion drove through -their programs ; their numbers were
small compared to those here involved. Labor will demand
a program and labor will obtain it. It can be opposed, it can
be retarded, but it cannot be stopped. We of the welfare
groups can move forward in step if we will, and perhaps
help in counsel, but the battle will be fought and won, I
hope, by labor.

And all America will benefit, for the nation will conserve
its most valuable and most perishable resources men. We
have had far too little regard for men as men. Much more
for machines; but at best, machines can only multiply the
efficiency of men, not substitute for them. Machines can be
replaced, plants can be rebuilt, acres can be replanted, but
the deterioration of wasted men is a progressing liability.
This cannot be charged off to obsolescence nor sold as scrap.
They must be kept in the balance sheet. For men are hus-
bands, men are fathers, men are citizens. Men form our
society. Men support our democracy. Men make America.
Until their human needs are met, America's budget will
never balance.



176



SURVEY MIDMONTHLY



Just an Innocent Bystander



By MARGARET FARLOW



ONCE again, for the severalth of a number of cam-
paigns, our community fund has fallen short of
raising the money its member social agencies re-
quire. A few years ago I probably should have agreed with
my professional social worker associates that the giving
public did not "understand," that in its blindness it failed
to see why it should give to private agencies when the
government was pouring vast sums into social services. But
I am no longer a professional social worker ; I am a "lady"
of sorts, who gets around with contributors, board mem-
bers and volunteers in their "off the record" moments. In
this new capacity I have been observing of late the reaction
of the contributing group to the "ways," big and little, of
our social agencies and social workers, and I am con-
vinced that the answer to our mounting deficit is not so
simple as "Uncle Sam's doing it." I am convinced that at
least a part of the reason for diminishing contributions can
be found in the gradual but steady shrinking of opportunity
for active lay participation in the actual work of the agen-
cies. As social workers have become more expert and pro-
fessional, the role of the layman, board member or volunteer
worker, has narrowed, until now, with few exceptions, it
is limited to "busy work," to dull routines which inspire
no enthusiasm and make small claim on intelligence.

These are harsh words I know and already I can hear
the answers, nicely turned phrases that clothe the realities
I hear about when social workers aren't around. One
answer of course is that most contributors do not want
any active participation in social work. That, I agree, is
quite true, within certain limitations. Many probably-
most of the large contributions to our fund come from
wealthy individuals and business and industrial firms that
give as a traditional duty, personal or civic. These con-
tributions continue, rising or falling according to personal
or business conditions. It is not of these I sing; four and
five figure gifts are important but they are not the backbone
of the fund either in dollars or in good will.

The failure or success of the fund must depend, as I see
it, on the relatively small contributors, the thousands and
thousands of people who can give $25 to $200. These
contributions usually represent some sacrifice on the part of
the donors, a .sacrifice that can be expected to continue
year after year only if the donors are firmly convinced of
the value of the services to which they are giving. It is the
interest of this group, I am persuaded by hearing the talk
at any number of luncheons, club meetings and other social
gatherings, which is slipping to an extent clearly visible in
campaign results.

In the years before public relief attained its present pro-
portions it was relatively easy to get money by appeals
pointed up with pathetic pictures, verbal and photographic,
of ragged, big-eyed children and wan-faced mothers. But
the time for all that is past and the fund knows it. The
most moving stories now bring growls about taxes and
Harry Hopkins and a sharply reduced contribution, if not a
flat refusal. Painstaking explanation of services other than
relief, more and better publicity, overcome some of the
resistance but apparently succeed in bringing forth say $10

MAY 1938



from a citizen who a few years ago cheerfully gave $100
this not necessarily because he has less to give but because
he is less impressed with the need for which he gives.

The impact of the enlarged public welfare services un-
questionably has changed the giving habits of Mr. and Mrs.
Average Citizen, a fact that for several years has been a
headache for local budget and campaign committees. How
to cope with it has engaged, not to say baffled, the best
efforts. One of these efforts, rather widely practiced, is to
carry to laymen understanding of social work, its philos-
ophy, purpose and methods, through classes, lectures and
informal talks before various organizations. Of course this
reaches a relatively small number of people, but they in
turn are supposed to carry the light to their friends, grad-
ually widening the economic middle-brackets group to
which privately supported social work looks for financial
and moral backing. To extend this group, to keep it
friendly, convinced of the value of the work, must be a
part of every social agency program. When financial support
begins to wane it becomes apparent that the group is either
too small or not sufficiently informed and interested.

A MOTHER effort aims to "bring back" the volunteer.
Here with us, as elsewhere, much time and energy has
been put into plans to give volunteers more understanding
of the social welfare program, to deepen their interest and
hence to enhance the usefulness of their services. It is gen-
erally agreed that people are most interested in the things
they work for, and social agencies always have stressed their
need for volunteers and their ability to utilize volunteer
services. In theory this is all right, and before social work
became so highly specialized and professionalized it worked
very successfully. But looking over the services now assigned
to volunteers, it is not difficult for me to understand why
few of those volunteers I know express any genuine in-
terest or satisfaction in the work they do. They have taken
the prescribed courses of lectures, done the recommended
reading well, some of it and visited the agencies on the
list. They are, presumably, "informed and intelligent."

And then what? What are the "useful services" for
which the training course has prepared them? Well, one
bright young woman of my acquaintance was set to check-
ing lists for invitations to a benefit performance; another
was set to counting cards in a dispensary, all the blue cards
in one total, the pink in another and so on. She never knew
why. But most of the "informed and intelligent" volunteers
are assigned to the driving service, which, to hear them talk,
seems to represent the bone-yard of volunteer aspirations.
Hours of driving service and numbers of volunteers signed
up and available for emergency calls or regular duty make
impressive reading in the reports on volunteer work. But
how much actual value is there ? Years ago, when cars were
scarce and efficient drivers were few, there was some
reason for it but at the present time it is pretty difficult for
an intelligent, normally busy woman to feel very keenly
interested in serving as chauffeur to an able-bodied social
worker who owns and drives a car herself. Nor does it seem
to her that she is making much of a contribution to the



177



social progress ot Her community when she sits in the car
and does a cross-word puzzle while the social worker is
making her calls.

A friend of mine, holding forth on this the other day at
a luncheon party, told of acquiring an expensive case of
pleurisy from waiting in near-zero weather while the social
worker had a cozy cup of tea with the client in the interest
of better rapport. "I hate to seem critical," she said, "but
I really can't see any sense in it. I want to do something
useful in my community but why on earth should I put
myself through that sort of thing? I would give my time
gladly if I could see that it meant anything, but all I did
actually was to contribute a few gallons of gasoline. The
social worker did not need anything else I had to offer and
for all the interest I had in the errands we did, or for all
my as they say 'participation in the work of the society,'
I might as well have been delivering telegrams for Western
Union."

ANOTHER woman laughed. "I used to drive 'em
around too, but I've been promoted. Now I take girls
to the clinic. It seems there's a rule that girls under age must
be accompanied by an adult, so I go and sit and sit and sit.
The girls are usually sixteen or seventeen years old and
know their way around the city and the clinic better than I
do. All arrangements are made by telephone before we go.
All I ever know about it is what the girl herself happens
to tell me, and the only notice anyone ever takes of me is
to verify the fact that the girl was accompanied. But still I
go and sit. Of course there may be a good reason for this
rule ; but I wish I could find out what it is. I've asked but
no one seems to know."

A third woman in the group said flatly, "I stopped all
that long ago. Maybe I am not capable of doing anything
but acting as chauffeur and guide but in that case I know
more interesting ways to spend my time. If these are the
only jobs the social agencies can find for us, why don't they
call on clients for such assistance as they need and tell us
frankly that they have no place for us. I can find plenty
of activity in club work that really means something to me
and I believe to the community. We always have con-
tributed to the community fund but my husband says he
doesn't see why we should go on. We pay taxes to support
people in need and the rest of it does not show results worth
what they cost. In spite of all this talk about social better-
ment, can you really show me that there is any less de-
linquency or any better opportunity for the children of
poverty-stricken parents than there always has been?"

It was disturbing to listen to this kind of talk from in-
telligent, public-spirited women, active and influential in
community work. Of the dozen women at the table, at
least eight had attended classes for volunteers and had
given time and service to one agency or another. Yet not
one of them spoke up to defend the welfare program of the
community. Those who still were working seemed to be
doing so from a sense of duty or habit, or because they
hoped they were being effective even if they were not quite
sure about it. None of them seemed to value the experience
for themselves or to feel any genuine interest in it.

I remember a meeting, ten or twelve years ago, of an
organization that I belonged to in this same city. Almost
two hundred busy enthusiastic members, each one an active
volunteer, listened to the experiences of several of their
number who told of their work, the new interest and happi-
ness it had brought them and the new direction it had given



to their thinking. True, there was a good deal of sentimen-l
tality in their talks, but here and there was some pretty!
sound social thinking, and all through a lot of genuine
interest and heart-warming enthusiasm.

In line with modern trends in social work, this organi-
zation now is staffed with paid workers and the partici- j
pation of the members is reduced to driving cars, raising
money, and listening to reports. Perhaps professionalization
is necessary to secure the best results and then again per-l
haps in the process we have lost something irreplaceable.

"You would think," said an attractive elderly woman at
another luncheon party, "that unless a person is a trained
social worker she is likely to demoralize completely anybody
she even tries to help. Many times in the past ten years I
have been told, kindly but firmly, that I must not interest]
myself in actual cases. All I am fit for apparently is to
drive a car and run errands related in some way to the
plans made by a 'trained' girl, probably just out of college.
I wouldn't trust her to do any planning in my life, I can
tell you, but I've heard the word 'trained' until I'm afraid
to speak in the presence of anyone with that sacred aura.
Their case records read mighty pretty, but looking over the
folks they work with, I don't see that they accomplish so
much more than we did in the days when we took a
neighborly interest in people in trouble and did the best we
could for them. But don't think the 'trained' girls admit it!
No siree; their system is to diagnose the case as situation
No. 7 which calls for the application of Rule No. 10, and
anything that happens after that is no fault of theirs. If
we failed it was because we were untrained ; if they fail,
it's because the case is hopeless. You can't beat a system
like that."

" T occurs to me," I said, "that in my dim past when
A I was a professional case worker for a private agency,
a lot of those rules and policies were made by the board
members, lay people like yourself. I even remember being
slapped on the wrist a time or two for interpreting some
of the rules a bit too freely. After all, professional social
workers are employes, controlled by groups of representa-
tive people in the community. If you don't like their
methods, why don't you do something about it?"

The whole table hooted derisively. One woman offered to
tell me the facts of life and the truth about Santa Claus.
They all tried to talk at once, but one younger woman, a
graduate of a good woman's college and successful in
business, got the floor. She started with the simple state-
ment that she regarded organized social work as a racket,
and she went right on from there. It was her contention
that social workers are concerned primarily with gaining
recognition of their professional status, that they have no
ingrained conviction of the worth, in any broad sense, of
the things they do. She related some of her trials as a
board member and concluded with: "The whole thing has
become so standardized that nobody dares to have an idea
unless it has been approved by the American Association of
Social Workers. The executives corral a few of us in a
committee room, overwhelm us with high-powered language
and patronize any suggestions we make until we give up
and agree to anything.

"But we get even with them when we decide on the size

of our contribution to the community fund don't overlook

that! Our social thinking may be pretty terrible in spots,

but like the tourists in the art gallery, we know what we

(Continued on page 180)



178



II o You Want War?

No?

But What Can You Do About It?

You can help make the National Anti-War Congress a success. Get to-
gether with representatives of labor unions, farm organizations, coopera-
tives, youth, church, service and women's clubs, and veterans' groups in



The NATIONAL ANTI-WAR CONGRESS

Washington, D. C., May 28-29-30 (Memorial Day Week-end)

\- one person, as a single organization you can do little that
counts. As one of the giant group being built up under the committee
you con stop war before it starts.

THE KEEP AMERICA OUT OF WAR COMMITTEE
Wants to

STOP the Super-Navy.

STOP the M-Day Bills that make every worker, man or woman, a robot

in case of war, without rights on wages, hours or opinion.
STOP the hiding of big business behind the American flag in China.
STOP alliances for war under any pretext.

Stands for

The democratic right to vote on war.

A lasting prosperity based on construction, conservatism, and expanded

education rather than a brief puff of spending, built on a war

boom.

An end to unemployment through jobs at home, not through death on
the battlefield.

Increasing solidarity with the people of all nations in the world-wide

struggle to abolish economic injustice and colonial repression.
Removal of the causes of dictatorial militarism.

What You Can Do

Celebrate Memorial Day by keeping the boys of today out of soldiers'
cemeteries.

Elect delegates from your organization.

Organize a Section of the K.A.O.W.

Give your name as an individual to add to the power of a long list.



JOHN A. LAPP, Chairman,

Keep America Out of War Committee

1707-H St. N. W, Washington, D. C.

Please send me full plans of the K.A.O.W. Committee.



Name



Organization (if any) Aiiiirr -




Note: We do not a-k. you for money, but of course the more money we have
the more we can do. Your checks will be welcome, but your name and your organ-
ization are what we want most.



SIGNERS TO CALL TO
NATIONAL ANTI-WAR CONGRESS

Grace Abbott

1 nivernily of Chicago
Oscar Ameringer

Editor, "American Guardian"
Bishop Jamea C. Baker

M. E. Chorch
Philip Bernstein

Educational Chairman. Central Con-
ference of American Rabbis
Bruce Bliven

Editor, "The New Republic"
Dorothy Dunbar Bromley

Columnist
Professor A. J. Carlson

University of Chicago
Senator Bennett Champ Clark
Max Danish

Editor, "Justice"
Dorothy Detzer

National Executive Secretary,

Women's International League
Sherwood Eddy

Author
Morris I Emst

Civil Liberties Attorney
John T. Flynn

Columnist
Clinton S. Golden

Director. Northeastern Region,

Steel Worker* Org. Com.
Dr. Frank P. Graham

Pre>., University of North Carolina
Powers Hapgood

Nat. Director. United Shoe Workers
Dr. George W. Hartmann

Editor, "Social Frontier"
Hubert Herring

Director, Committee on Cultural
Relations with Latin America
Paul Hutchinson

Managing Editor, "The Christian

Century"

Rabbi Edward L. Israel
Bishop Paul Jones

Protestant Episcopal Church
A. J. Kennedy

International President, Lithogra-
phers' Union
Isidur Laderntan

President. International Pocketbook

Workers Union
Frederick J. Libby

Executive Secretary, National Coun-
cil, Prevention of War
Homer Martin

International President, U.A.W.A.
H. L. Mitchell

National Secretary. Southern Tenant

Farmer*' Union
Senator Gerald P. Nye
Miss Jeannette Rankin

First Congreaswoman
A. Philip Randolph

International President. Brotherhood

of Sleeping Car Porter*
Stephen Raushenbush

Chief Investigator. Nye Munitions

Committee. Author
Joseph Schlossberg

General Secretary, Amalgamated

Clothing Worker* of America
Norman Thomas

National Chairman, Socialist Party
John Vexecky

National President. Farmer* Union
James P. Warbaaie

I'rrHjHi-ni. Cooperative League of the

U. 8. A.
Helen Woodward

Director. League of Women Shopper*
Chas. S. Zimmerman

Vice-President. I. L. G. W. U.

AND MANY OTHERS






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179



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(Continued from page 178)

like, and if we don't get it, we don't have to pay for it.
And if you will notice the reports of the fund for the past
few years, you will see that we are not paying for it as
we used to.

"The high-powered social workers can get together in
their meetings and make their rules, they may even put
their rules over in committee and board meetings, but they
are not making us like it. The closer they bind themselves
together to work as professionals, rather than as intel- ;
ligent employes paid by the people of the community to
help solve social problems, the further they get from their
source of supply the cooperation and support of the gen-
eral public. The women of this city who helped organize
these social agencies in the first place, who thought and
planned and worked for years to get somewhere in serving
social needs, are not being replaced and it was their faith
and effort that made any of this work possible. The paid
workers used to think with the laymen, not for them, and



Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesSurvey midmonthly : journal of social work (Volume 74) → online text (page 49 of 109)