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Charles Richmond Henderson.

Modern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods online

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Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 58 of 73)
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Geographical Distribution of the Funds} — In the investigation
made for the basis of the law of 1890 it was found that the charitable
resources were very unequally distributed in the Italian peninsula.
Generally speaking, the urban centers were better provided for than
the rural communities, and the dense population of the northern
states and provinces had larger endowments than the scattered peas-
ants of the southern districts. This was an inevitable return of a
purely voluntary charity. Only under a complete state system can
there be anything like an equal distribution of the benevolent contri-
butions of a people, and a uniform state system is possible only by
national unification. That this inequality still exists and is likely to
continue for some time in the future will be apparent from the recent
statistics, which will be given at a later point in this discussion.

Defects. — The possible dangers to which such funds are always
liable are diversion, waste, perversion, neglect, duplication at certain
points, absence of supplies at other places.

Administration of the Funds by Boards of Trust and Asso-
ciations. — The modern legislation very properly took account of the
traditional methods because they were hallowed by tradition and
based on legal decisions. The "pious works" had come into exist-
ence apart from governmental initiative and had grown out of the
customary ways of founding and conducting benevolent enterprises.
Corporations of many kinds existed when the recent laws were
passed, and, while the government of united Italy sought to control
them, it respected their forms and purposes. In the study of the
present conditions we shall at the same time gain insight into the
ancient forms of organization which have been assimilated into the
new.

Legal Regulation of "Public Works of Charity." — The law of
1890 was carried into effect by means of administrative regula-
tions (Regolamento amministrativo) , of records and accounts (Re-
golamento di contabilitd 1891), and Ministerial orders (Sept. 26,
1896) relating to accounts of funds, and by royal decrees of 1893
and 1896.

(a) Legal Definition of "Public Works of Charity." — They are

^ Statistica deila opere pie, Vol. X, 1897, p. xxxiii.



564 MODERN ^lETHODS OF CHARITY

those agencies which offer aid to the poor, whether sick or well, or
they provide facilities for education, training for some craft or pro-
fession, or in some other way work for the moral and economic wel-
fare of the poor. Where a trust or board is charged with the ad-
ministration of funds for the benefit of a particular family, or where
the association has merely commercial ends, it comes under the civil
and commercial codes, and not under the poor law. There are
"mixed" institutions which do come under this law, those works
{"opere pie") which have at least in part for their end a benevolent
purpose.

Examples of benevolent activities which are subject to the poor
law are : aid to the poor or the insane ; general hospitals or hospitals
for special diseases or for the injured ; hospices for exposed or aban-
doned children, orphanages ; hospices for young pupils ; aid to dis-
charged prisoners; furnishing nourishment for infants (allatamenti
dcgli infanti) ; institutions for the deaf, the blind ; infant asylums ;
gratuitous schools for the poor ; pawning societies ; benevolent asso-
ciations for aiding the poor in their homes ; medical relief ; providing
food for the destitute ; schools of trades, etc.

The legal evidence of the nature and purpose of an institution is
furnished by the acts of foundation, testaments, charters, etc. But
the actual method of administration shows the character of the work,
and common notoriety is regarded as part of the evidence,

(b) The Motives of Governmental Intervention. — In the discus-
sions of experts and in the debates in the national legislature the
designs of statesmen have been fully expressed. They may be suc-
cinctly summarized as follows : to safeguard the purposes of the
original donors of the funds ; to encourage benevolence by securing
the effective carrying out of the benefactors' desire ; to prevent
abuses and perversions of income and property, as by excessive ex-
penditures on administration ; to see that all poor citizens are assisted ;
and through all to promote the public welfare by preventing mendi-
cancy, idleness, and other vices.

(



Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 58 of 73)