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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Our Charter of Health (S700b: 1913)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Wallace's response to an enquiry; printed along with many others' as part of a news story on the new insurance bill on page 7 of the 14 January 1913 issue of The Daily Chronicle (London). To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S700b.htm

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, O.M.

The distinguished scientist, President of Land Nationalisation Society.

      The Act is a very useful measure as a temporary palliative, and it is the best we could hope for from the present Parliament; but since the money contributed by the employers is not productive they will probably in the long run reimburse themselves by lowering wages (or at any rate by not increasing them) or by raising prices, and at the same time the old and least capable workers will become unemployed.

      No real and permanent good will be done until a radical measure enabling all unemployed workers to become permanently self-supporting and to provide for their own sick and aged is found practicable. This would inevitably result in a general rise in wages, making compulsory insurance unnecessary.

      My own view is that even more important than National Insurance is the provision of free bread to all applicants, with ample sustenance for the sick and for children. This would at once abolish the crime and scandal of actual starvation in the richest country in the world. If this was provided for by an annual vote in Parliament it would continually force the "problem of poverty" on the public notice. The "Insurance Act" will, I fear, only tend to conceal it, while the evil will remain almost undiminished as the greatest curse of our boasted civilisation.

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