Baltimore Evening Sun (23 June 1911): 6.


The suffragist cause in the Eastern United States seems to be languishing, largely, I fancy, because most of the boss suffragettes have social pretensions or aspirations, and the rest are perfect ladies. A fashionable flavor is fatal to such jehads. Not until they went in for rough tactics and directed their proselyting efforts to the women in the factories did the suffragettes of England begin to make a real stir. It was Annie Kenney, even more than the daredevil Pankhursts, who accomplished the miracle of turning Parliament’s liver to water.

The coddled woman of the middle and upper classes, to whom the American suffragists chiefly appeal, seldom has any natural yearning to vote, and when such a yearning is implanted in her artificially its common flower is windy nonsense. There is, at bottom, no sound reason why she should want to vote. She has no genuine grievances against society; her rights are more carefully protected than those of any other human being; she must realize, if she can think at all, that full participation in the business of the world would add to her burdens without appreciably augmenting her privileges.

It is the working woman, and particularly the married working woman, who most needs the vote today and who would derive the greatest benefits from it—if, in fact, any benefits would come out of it at all. Just as her coddled sister is the pet of modern civilization, so she herself is civilization’s worst victim. Her condition was bad enough in the old days, when she was merely the brute slave of her husband, but it is even worse today, for industrialism has imposed a second slavery upon her. There is in all the world no more miserable creature than.the woman worker who, after laboring all day in a factory, goes home to the second hard labor of keeping her house in order. Of leisure she has less than a dray horse. If, indeed, there is a true serf in Christendom today, she is certainly that serf.

Laws have been passed to relieve women of their old burdens, but not many of those laws have benefited the woman laborer. We have an our statute books, for example, a vast mass of new legislation designed to protect the property of married women, to give them the right to sue and be sued, to assure them a fixed share in their husbands’ earnings But of what value are such statutes to the working woman? She has no property to protect, she never has money enough to sue or be sued, and the share of her husband’s earnings that the law allows her is plainly not enough to sustain her and her children, else she wouldn’t work.

Bit by bit, of course, the burdens of this woman are being made lighter. Even in the midst of a civilization which lays it down as a primary axiom that all institutions are to be tested by their commercial profitableness, the idea is gaining ground that the overworking of women is damaging the race. The time will come, no doubt, when a man who proposes to put 500 women to work in a factory at $4 a week will be sent to jail as an enemy to society, instead of being fawned upon as a public benefactor, as at present. But that time is a long way ahead. We still estimate all such enterprises by the money they produce and not, all we should, by the human beings they produce.

Perhaps the extension of the suffrage to women would not actually bring about a decenter, cleaner, more humane civilization–at least, not quickly. It hasn’t done so in Colorado; it hasn’t done so in Australia. But, considering the immediate rather than the ultimate ends of the suffragist crusade, it must be plain that the fair propagandists would stand a far better chance of making converts if they addressed themselves wholly or chiefly to the women upon whom man-made laws and customs bear most harshly today—to those women, in brief, who are expected to be both good mothers and good jackasses.

The Lady could get nothing with the ballot that she cannot get today without it, and if she has any intelligence at all (which sometimes happens) she soon spies out that fact, and so her enthusiasm oozes away, or is transferred to lingerie hats, pseudo-Ibsenism, the New Thought or some other vapid thing. But the woman worker might get something very real at the polls—to wit, relief from that cannibalistic industrial system which now capitalizes her dire need. I don’t say that she would infallibly or even probably get any such release, but only that she might possibly get it—and by way of that possibility, given eloquent preaching, the suffragettes have their only route to real converts—to converts, that is, who will be so far in earnest that they will be willing to face, not only soiled gloves and shiny noses, but death itself for the cause.

Stir up the factory girls, ladies, if you want to do trade! When you talk to them of oppression, they will understand what you mean.

Let us now, brethren, consider typhoid vaccination as a scheme of health and life insurance. Health first. There are in Baltimore about 3,000 cases of typhoid a year, and so the average Baltimorean’s chances of taking the disease are is 1 is to 200, or thereabout. It costs, at the lowest, about $200 to have typhoid, which means a general per capita tax of $1 a year. By submitting to vaccination the individual Baltimorean may reduce his own liability from 1 in 200 to about 1 in 3,000, and so reduce his potential share of the annual tax, or, rather, his liability to the annual tax, from $1 to 7 cents, a saving of 93 cents. But it costs from $3 to $10 to be vaccinated and the resultant immunity, it is probable, lasts no longer than three years. Let us assume that the average cost of vaccination is $6. In return for this expenditure what does the individual get—in money? He gets three times 98 cents, or $2.79. Is the game worth playing? I leave the answer to those who are learned in the mathematics of gambling.

Now as to insurance against death. There were in Baltimore last year 235 deaths from typhoid. Thus the individual Baltimorean’s chances of dying of the disease were as 1 is to 2,375. Assuming this risk to be constant, it appears that vaccination can reduce it to 1 in 36,500, and hold it thus for three years, at a cost of $1.67 a year. Is that a fair price for the insurance obtained? Once again I must yield the door to the actuaries.

The dictionary of synonyms for bald-head:

Glass Top, Sliding Place,
Fly Rink, The Casino,
Reflector, Dome,
Ingersoll, Mount Dandruff,
Hurricane deck, Promontory,
Mont Blanc, Beach.

H. L. Mencken