CHAPTER XIXThe present chapter is to analyze in some detail the question,
"What is need or want?"--a question which is perhaps as basic
as any which has to be considered in connection with relief and
social security. It is not our purpose to attempt to give answers
to the detailed questions, but merely to present them as constituting a major element which has to be considered in arriving
at decisions. Before the scope of the chapter is outlined, one
basic matter should be clearly set forth.
THE NATURE OF NEED
NEED NOT CONSIDERED IN TERMS OF MONEYNo attempt will be made to discuss need in terms of money.
Obviously money is only a medium of exchange and a common
denominator that enables us to add together values or prices of
unlike things. Our needs are not satisfied directly by money but
by the things which money will buy. If discussion is attempted
in terms of money, several difficulties are encountered, some of
which deserve enumeration.
|1. ||Money figures depend on prices. If the price level changes
greatly through either inflation or deflation, the money figures
change, although the basic minimum requirements for food,
clothing, and shelter may remain almost constant.|
|2. ||In the United States conditions vary widely. At one extreme are industrial workers in urban centers who secure almost all the needed goods and services through the payment
of money. At the other extreme are the families that still live to
a substantial degree under a subsistence economy. Food, clothing, housing, and fuel are largely the direct product of their own
labor or of barter or exchange of labor with their neighbors. The
amount of money which passes through their hands in the
course of a year may be extremely small. To get money figures
for them, it is necessary to attach values or prices to things|
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Relief and Social Security.
Contributors: Lewis Meriam - Author.
Publisher: The Brookings Institution.
Place of publication: Washington, DC.
Publication year: 1946.
Page number: 571.
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