The Price of Reform
In a few years all our restless and angry hearts will be quiet in death, but those who come after us will live in the world which our sins have blighted or which our love of right has redeemed. Let us do our thinking on these great questions, not with our eyes fixed on our bank account, but with a wise outlook on the fields of the furore and with consciousness that the spirit of the Eternal is seeking to distil from our lives some essence of righteousness before they pass away.
WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, Christianity and the Social Crisis.
T HE eclipse of reform in the 1920's did not signify any weakening of the national faith in the possibility of overcoming poverty. On the contrary, it reflected the widespread assumption that for all practical purposes the task had been accomplished. According to the prevailing view poverty, like child labor, was virtually a thing of the past; consequently there was no longer any need or justification for social reform. By inference, individual reform was likewise outdated, since the most important elements in prosperity were now held to be impersonal factors such as technology and scientific management. Conservatives boasted that under the amiable relations established between government and big business in the Harding and Coolidge administrations the American dream of material abundance was fast being realized. During the campaign of 1928 Herbert Hoover referred to the automatic solution of social problems by business processes as "our American experiment in human welfare." He cited the progress made in the preceding seven years as proof that this experiment had brought the United States "nearer to the abolition of poverty, to the abolition of the fear of want, than humanity has ever reached before."1