The WPA and Federal Relief Policy

By Donald S. Howard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIV
CONCLUSIONS

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND DIRECT RELIEF

ONE OF THE TWO major aspects of federal relief policy discussed in this volume is the federal government's refusal, for a variety of reasons, to participate in any way in meeting general relief needs not provided for through special assistance programs administered in conformity with the Social Security Act or through special measures designed to aid farmers or narrowly defined groups thrown into need as a direct result of war.


Federal Responsibility for the Establishment of a Socially Defensible Standard of Living

While the federal government may be admitted to have particularly heavy responsibilities toward workers thrown into need because of unemployment,1 it does not follow that it has no responsibility toward persons whose need is otherwise caused but is not, under existing arrangements, decently met. Most authorities agree2 that the federal government should participate in establishing a broad nationwide program of direct relief to protect families in all parts of the country from falling below a socially defensible standard of living. It is also widely agreed that an all-embracing relief measure of this type is indispensable to the protection of the integrity of the so-called special assistance measures and even of the work program itself.

Support for undergirding all other relief measures with one broad program to meet need arising from any cause and in any quarter whatever does not stem from belief that relief is any final answer to unmet need. The right to relief about which much has been said within recent years must be superseded by a prior right --the right to live without having to rely on relief. Better ways than relief must ultimately be found. Until then, however, it appears that relief is indispensable to the nation's well-being.

____________________
1
As shown in chap. 29.
2
See chap. 3.

-836-

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