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The writing of a book like this may give those who read mainly by scanning titles and chapter-headings the impression that the object of the writer is to decry insurance and to bring the system and those who practise it into disrepute. That his tory warns us of danger in the practice of insurance I heartily believe; in fact, it is for the purpose of winning others to that belief that this book is written. But it is one thing to say that a thing has brought evil results, and quite another thing to say that the thing itself is evil. Even religion has, at times, been so perverted as to cause slavery, war, and all the round of villainies and miseries. The pointing out of errors and shortcomings, while not likely to win one popularity, is, never theless, necessary; and the more important the institution, the more uncompromising must be the critic who seeks to pre vent the abuse of it. One could hardly study the nature and history of insurance without seeing that it is an invaluable element in social life. If my criticism is destructive rather than constructive, the fault is in my power of expression and not in my opinions. The very fact that insurance is, like the air we breathe omnipresent and unnoticed, yet necessary — makes it all the more important that any source of taint in it should be utterly removed. This is not a question, as some may think it, for the rich alone. Even a casual glance over the facts presented in the succeeding chapters will prove beyond question that those who are most deeply interested are the poor, the weak, the unprotected. Insurance affects not alone those who are parties to the insurance contract. For these, it is usually all beneficence. But for others, who, it may be, not only are not parties to it, but do not even know of the existence of the con tract, insurance may be an agency of torture or destruction whose effects are exceeded only by plague, famine, and war.