What are the concrete causes of poverty? We can divide the causes into objective and subjective causes. Objective causes are: physical, bad climate, unproductive soil; social, economic, unsanitary living conditions, lack of education, bad government, corruption. Subjective causes are sickness, intemperance, shiftlessness, laziness, old age, neglect and desertion by relatives, death of main support, crime, dishonesty, ignorance.
It would be possible to wipe out poverty in time and with the right conditions if all poverty could be reduced to the objective causes. Since there are biological and psychological causes in the Subjective group, poverty cannot every be completely wiped out. Can we divide the poor into “worthy and unworthy” cases? In practically every case of poverty, personal defects and bad environment combine. Few of these personal defects are the result of misconduct. The great mass of poverty seems attributable to misfortune rather than to misconduct. It is therefore unwise to divide the poor into worthy and unworthy cases. The only division in charitable work is needy and not needy. The State Department of Public Welfare recognizes only this division.
What are the remedies for poverty? Where biological defects of the individual are the cause (feeble minded, blind) they should be segregated. Psychological defects are more likely acquired and are therefore much easier treated by remedying defects in character by education, religion, etc. Faulty social and industrial factors must be remedied by pensions, social insurance and education.
How are the dependent classes of people being dealt with? There are several options such as state welfare, old age pensions, United Fund, Social Security, private charities and religious organizations. Religious organizations are listed last because they are the least effective. It is through the failure of religious organizations that such “isms” as socialism and communism have been thriving. It is through such failure that the burdensome taxes to support social assistance in this country have risen.
What does the Presbyterian Church do in Texas for the relief of poverty? What does any other church that you know of do? What could any church do?