Democracy and Social Ethics
by Jane Addams
Hull House founder and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams spent twenty years working with the poverty-stricken immigrant poor in Chicago. In ... Show synopsis Hull House founder and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams spent twenty years working with the poverty-stricken immigrant poor in Chicago. In 'Democracy and Social Ethics, ' she writes with understated passion and unqualified empathy for their plight. Anyone who wants to know the reasons for the forty hour work should read this book. Addams writes about the desirablity of factory work over household work for young women, due both to the lack of isolation and the relatively short working hours, "only" from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., six days a week. The reasons for minimum wage laws, social security disability laws, age discrimination laws, social security laws, welfare laws, etc. are also explained in this book. Addams writes about people earning pennies an hour, having their peak earning years in their twenties, being disabled in their thirties, and being dependent on children for financial support. The children, in turn had their education stop before high school so they can support their families. Anyone who wants to know why governments spend so much money on education should read this book. Addams writes about children having their choices limited to factory employment or household service, with the more intellectually oriented being doomed to spend a lifetime haunting public libraries and public lectures, but having virtually no chance of escaping the circumstance of their birth. Anyone who wants to know why poverty-stricken people are suspicious of political reform movements should read this book. Addams writes about the major efforts Chicago's political powerhouses made to help individual poverty-stricken people, and the irrelevance of wisdom advocating personal savings to people who could not pay for food for their family, or of wisdom urging them to stay out of taverns when they were a great source of personal help and friendship. A century after Addams wrote this book, the United States is a far better place to live than it was then. But our country's improvements, urged by great progressive leaders like Addams, are under relentless assaults today. This book is extremely relevant to America's future, if that future is going to continue to better than the past. Addams saw democracy as a way of life, not just a series of electoral choices. She sought a major expansion of municipal services, to both improve the living standards of the desperately poor and to wean them away from dependence on corrupt political machines. She advocated the existence of "A reformer who really knew the people and their great human needs, who believed it was the business of government to serve them, and who further recognized the educative power of a sense of responsibility...." Addams addresses this book to the philanthropic community which provided the base of her financial support. She clearly saw them as providing seed money for demonstration projects to create greater governmental and societal commitment.