Home >> The-normal-life-1915 >> Accidents to Working Conditions >> Permanent Registration_P1

Permanent Registration

joab, population, thousand, hundred, census and time

Page: 1 2

PERMANENT REGISTRATION Taking our population as it is, the first serious task of social construction is to make it possible to know more about it.

Our national count we make once in ten years, with supplementary studies from time to time car ried out by the permanent census bureau which our government now boasts. Thus we have de cided that it is not a sin to be counted at regular, not too frequent, intervals. It was not always so.

You remember how it was in the days of David and Joab, as the story is told in Samuel and in Chronicles. In his old age David was tempted by Satan to have the number of his people counted. He told Joab to have it done. Joab was much aston ished. "Now the Lord thy God," he said, "add unto the people, how many soever they may be, a hundred fold, and they will all be there just the same, whether you count them or not—no fewer and no more. Why do you want them numbered ?" His idea seems to have been that it was fighting edge and a good cause and the Lord's sanction—not numbers—that counted. Nevertheless, David's word prevailed. After nine months and twenty days Joab got the census taken, finding that there were eight hundred thousand valiant men in the armies of Israel and five hundred thousand in those of Judah. Chronicles makes it a round million instead of Samuel's eight hundred thousand, but that comes nearer than some current official counts and estimates of the size of armies.

As soon as it was done David's heart smote him and he knew that he had sinned greatly and done a great iniquity and had been very foolish. When he had his choice of three penalties, seven years of famine, or to flee before his enemies three months, or a three days' pestilence, he chose the last—as any modern king would have done—and seventy thousand perished. And then David bethought himself—as any modern king might not have done —to take the blame on himself, and said: " I was responsible for that census. What have these sheep done?" And so he made a sacrifice and was forgiven.

When the suggestion is made that the time has now come when we in this country should all be officially registered, with our finger-prints, and with a constantly corrected address, every birth, every removal, and every death being reported under penalty of the law, the proposal is apt to be greeted perhaps much as the king's impious proposal was greeted by Joab. We of free English traditions,

with our touchiness as to personal liberty, are apt to feel that any public record, even of the fact of our existence and where we are, much more what whorls our finger-tips may please to sport, is a gross infringement of inalienable prerogatives.

Yet it is so, that the basis of a sound compre hensive policy of social construction demands more certainty than we now have—demands a general registration of the whole population, stationary and shifting, native and immigrant, sick and well, feeble-minded and strong-minded, criminal and law-abiding, new-born and moribund, legitimate and illegitimate, of school age and of fighting age, rural and urban, industrial and professional, infant, child, youth, and adult.

We already have various kinds of registration under federal, state, municipal, or voluntary aus pices: such as registration for voting, registration by charitable agencies, the school census, and the registration of land titles. One can easily count more than fifty different registrations, each affect ing a very considerable part of the population, and overlapping one another in a most extraordinary degree. Replacing some of these and perfecting all of them, there should be one complete official registration of the entire population, accessible to all who have legitimate occasion to consult it, serving the purposes of health, education, police, election inspectors, tax assessors, county clerks and sheriffs and other public officials, and also such voluntary agencies—churches, lodges, charitable societies, tradesmen and others—as have occasion to know the whereabouts and the family relation ships of their customers or applicants or members, as the case may be.

Page: 1 2