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People Like Ourselves: Forecast for Survey Graphic

by Paul Kellogg

November 1935


Collectively, consumers have been the self-forgotten men and women of the country. Their lack of organized strength was visualized in the code set-ups of the NRA, dominated as they were by producers and trade bodies. Yet consumption is the "we" aspect of economic change—the quotient between income and prices which expresses much of what we get out of our bargain with life. These years of widespread want in an age of surplus have become the crux of renewed attacks on private ownership and profit-taking; and of current advocacy in their stead of production set going by the stimulus of serving human needs. Our less philosophical "share the wealth" agitations may be vague as to how this is to be managed; but during the depression consumers cooperatives have multiplied in the rural and semi-rural districts. The drives for more rational distribution of essentials are illustrated by municipal, state and national efforts to cut down the spread between what farmers get and what families pay for milk....

For nearly ten years Survey Graphic has followed as probably no other general magazine one field of sharp controversy in which the consumers stake is urgent—our need and use of medical services. Each year more experiments in both group practice and group payment go forward with the backing of progressive physicians and laymen. The five-year study of the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care is now followed by the vast national inventory of chronic illness and disability which has been entered upon by the United States Public Health Service with benefit of WPA funds. It will add to the impatient body of facts on which we can, if we will, base sound efforts to break down the wall of cost between doctor and patient. As things stand, of the hazards originally blocked out by the President's Committee on Economic Security, sickness remains for report and action.


Kay Davis, University of Virginia, © 2001-2003