The army of the unemployed is daily assuming more threatening proportions in the United States. While Congress is groping with conservative haste among a multitude of bills designed to relieve the situation, the curtailment of war industries and the rapid discharge of soldiers is adding thousands each week to the already over-supplied labor market. When we add to these two potent sources of unemployed the present inevitable halt in the industrial machinery while it is changing from war to peace operation, the problems of relief become both grave and complex in the extreme.
Efforts instituted by the spectacular appeals of the men themselves are being exerted toward relieving the situation. These efforts are entirely necessary, but in the end they merely strive to eliminate the effects and not the causes of the difficulty. It is foolish to expect industry, however willing it may be, to create jobs arbitrarily out of pure patriotism. A few thousand can be taken care of in this way, but the majority of the surplus labor can only be absorbed through increased production founded upon the solid basis of increased demand for products. The real remedy to this pressing situation must come through the stop-page of the streams of labor which are constantly adding their volumes to the idle army already tramping the streets in search of work.
Instead of thoughts of supporting the men after they are discharged, would it not be better to retain them in the army until industry can take care of them? Even though they are tired of military life is not the army preferable to the bread line? Finally, would it not be better for the men, physically and morally, for the Government to support them in the camps, under protected conditions until there was a need for them in the labor market rather than to turn them out, with or without money, to shift for, themselves? Some action must be taken without delay, not only to relieve those already desperate from lack of employment, but to prevent the situation becoming chronic through constant additions to the over supply of labor. Curtailment of demobilization, except in special cases, seems to be the remedy most needed to alleviate the situation.