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Page 4 of Mountain Life & Work vol. 15 no. 4 January 1940

Part of Mountain Life and Work

wealth, our maturing population may expect to secure those goods and services without which physical and cultural growth is impossible. Until the pathetic puzzle of underconsumption and underemployment is somehow brought to terms with our natural resources and economic organization, it is futile to expect patriotic and moral exhortations to halt declining births among those who sense the drift of the times." Any policy for population, he concluded, is but part and parcel of our larger policy, economic and MOUNTAIN LII'E AND WORK Winter, 1940 political. Certainly there can be no better touchstone for our total national policy than this question: "Is it conducive to the conservation and development of our total human resources?" Such are brief excerpts from four of the sixteen papers presented at the Conference on Tomorrow's Children, which was in every way a most constructive and inspirational meeting. During 1940 the Conference will make an attempt to have the theme "Tomorrow's Children" featured in various state and local welfare conferences and study groups in the South. STUDY CLUBS AND CITIZENSHIP PAL L. VOGT Can we keep democracy in America? Do we really want it? If we do want to preserve our institutions of popular government, how can we help? These arc some of the questions that arc being raised everywhere in these days of worldwide conflict and change. That government by the people could be firmly established was not at all a certainty when our government was founded; being afraid of the encroaching tendencies of governmental agencies, the framers of the constitution hedged the powers of government about with all kinds of checks and balances; all powers not specifically delegated to the state were reserved to the people. The greatest test of the strength of our democratic system came during the Civil War. Since then, we have continued to perfect the machinery of popular control through extending the use of the secret ballot; the extension of the right of suffrage to women; the popular election of senators; the development of the initiative, referendum, and recall; and the strengthening of the judiciary. So well satisfied have we been with the working of our democratic institutions that we have assumed they could not be destroyed. "It can't happen here" has expressed the common attitude toward threats of dictatorship. In the midst of our peaceful tranquility, however, there have been coming changes that may well give us concern. These changes are not wholly objectionable, but they do threaten our democracy unless they are understood and are con trolled in the interest of the common good. One of these is the tendency of problems to become too complex for solution by the average citizen. When our government was founded, communities were small and the problems of government were relatively simple. The New England town meeting and similar governmental organizations elsewhere were adequate to meet the situations that had to be dealt with. Democracy has always thrived best in local communities where people knew one another and where they could know at first hand the problems that must be solved. Today it is a question as to whether local problems arc any longer of as vital importance as those of state, national or international scope. To illustrate: for years county agricultural agents had been helping individual farmers to improve their management of their farms; livestock and seed had been improved and methods of cultivation had advanced to a high state of efficiency; theoretically, the farmers' condition should have improved accordingly. But since 1920, and particularly since 1929, the condition of the farmer, and of the workers in the cities too, has been disastrous. There was little in any local situation that caused the trouble. Forces were at work, not only in America but throughout the world, that were causing misery and suffering to millions of families everywhere. Farmers suddenly awoke to the fact that international restrictions of trade, agricultural conditions in Egypt, India and the Argentine, armaments, taxes, labor conditions in indus

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