October 21, 1923

Report Outline
Labor and Other Departments

Certain activities and proposed activities of the Government are frequently called paternalistic. Usually the term paternalism carries with it something of approbrium. According to the dictionary paternalism is “a relation, principle or practice of care or control, as of the governed by a government, suggestive of that exercised by a father.”

It may be argued that the United States Government is paternalistic, in the general meaning of the word, in its attitude toward the soldiers and sailors of the Army and Navy, since it gives thorn food and clothing and money and holds them under strict discipline. Or it may be argued that such men are hired by the people—who are the government—to perform certain services and that there is nothing of paternalism in the thing.

If, in the case of wide unemployment, the Government should undertake to supply food and clothing and perhaps employment, such an activity might well be called paternalistic in the sense of the general use of the term.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Unemployment and Employment Programs
Welfare and Welfare Reform