Social Welfare

PIONEER Oregon had a simple formula of social welfare: work
was provided for those who could work and aid for those who
could not. Whatever latter-day society has added to the homespun tra-
dition has been brought forward by trial and error methods in a state
which still has vast unexploited natural resources and, theoretically at
least, offers more opportunities than many other states.

If the present results of Oregon's efforts to provide aid for the in-
digent young and old, hospitalization for the physically and mentally ill,
and rehabilitation for criminals may seem inadequate in some respects,
it should be remembered that most of the state's present social welfare
institutions are comparatively young, and were established to comple-
ment a robust pre-depression economy.

Few persons in the opulent 1920's anticipated the havoc that falling
prices and dwindling markets might work upon Oregon's great lum-
bering and agricultural enterprises, or that "seasonal" work—long a
convenient stop-gap measure for spring and summer unemployment—
might fail to halt a rising tide of indigence, swollen by the migration
of thousands of desperate persons from the drouth areas of the middle
west. It is significant that the editor of a prominent newspaper recently
questioned the necessity of organization among the unemployed, inti-
mating that opportunity still knocked at every man's door in Oregon,
even if not so loudly and insistently as some romanticists would have us
believe. In Oregon, as elsewhere, the Federal Government has entered
into the relief field upon a tremendous scale, and the number of the un-
employed apparently makes the continuation of Federal aid imperative.
The achievements of the Federal agencies—the WPA, PWA, NYA,
and FSA—are a warm penumbra between the bright accomplishments
of Oregonians who have striven to keep alive the best pioneer tradition
of mutual help, and the darkness of insufficient relief, the thin slops
provided on soup lines, and the county poor farms for the needy aged.

Until the beginning of the present decade, Oregon's legislative as-
semblies, drawn from a state with many diverse geographical sections