The Socialism of Our Times: A Symposium

By Harry W. Laidler; Norman Thomas | Go to book overview

TALKS BEFORE AMERICAN SOCIALISTS
By HAROLD J. LASKIWhat should be the next steps in American socialism? Anything I can contribute must be read in the context of an insistence that it is eight years since I was in America; and apart from a brief visit two years ago I have had no full opportunity of re-surveying the ground. Any suggestions, accordingly, that I dare venture must be taken as those of a benevolent and interested ignoramus. No one is more conscious of this thin I.
Social Insurance. My feeling is that the first step of all is to awaken the American people to a sense of the positive character of the state. They must be made to realize the intimate way in which its activities alter the inner fabric of their lives. To this end, the kind of program I should envisage would concern itself with
Unemployment insurance.
Health insurance.
Old age and widows' pensions.

These ought, of course, to be national in plan. But that would mean a federal amendment. Accordingly I should urge the establishment of schemes for this purpose in the half-dozen states most likely to realize their value. The American Socialist party should appoint a committee to study each aspect of the problems they involve, and present a considered report upon them, together with a draft bill to give concreteness to the results of the inquiry. It should take advantage of states like Massachusetts, where a public hearing is possible, and secure this from the legislature. The value of such legislation I do not need to emphasize. I am convinced that educationally it is of the first importance. For it convinces the average man that the machinery of the state can be used to safeguard his interests directly. He sees that it can mitigate inequalities, and that the weapon of taxation is at his

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