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meaning in a country such as ours. In an age of sweeping economic changes, our government has lagged far behind that of Germany in meeting the resultant problems, the correct solution of which is of signal importance to social soundness and individual contentment. We must learn from Germany if we are to avert the danger of class hatred - general cynicism and bitterness on the part of the workers, who, in case of war, feel that they are being sacrificed to the gain of a hostile class, not that they are fighting for a government which means something to them. Even in Germany, prior to the war, there was discontent and syndicalism had made considerable headway. Hence our economic remedies must be even more progressive than those of Germany; and yet they must be effected without surrender to autocracy. An outline of the problem we face, and of solutions suggested or foreshadowed by present tendencies and foreign experience, even though it be of the hastiest nature, should be of interest.
The much-discussed recent financial and industrial concentration in America has caused the formation of an economic government in nowise within the control of the mass of citizens, yet vitally affecting their welfare. In spite of desperate efforts to dissolve this concentrated power and revert to the older system of small competitive industrial units, it is evident that concentration is a natural and irresistible tendency, due to the modern conditions of industry. The whole industrial system is a closely coördinated organism, and it would be exceedingly wasteful and inefficient to go back to the small unit system in some of the great basic branches of production, were such a thing feasible. Moreover, it is apparent that public opinion and the sensitiveness of capital would never permit such a ruinous reversion. Regulation, in the interest of the general welfare, of railroads, public utilities, and banking, has been successful, the new currency bill having demonstrated its worth under conditions of unusual strain. The next step is government ownership.
But why single out railroad, water and light companies, and banks for public control? Modern industry rests on a basis of mineral wealth-coal, iron, copper—and these fundamentals support businesses the control of which is as essential to public welfare as that of transportation or banking. As to the question of own
ership, the United States Government operates national forests successfully on a large scale, controlling part of the timber industry depending on them in a very paternalistic way; and is even buying up forest land which has been allowed to pass into private ownership. Yet forests, important as they are to the public welfare, are surely no more important than coal, iron, and other minerals, which should be regarded in the same light as forests, as a gift of nature to the whole people, not as the property of individuals.
The government now owns coal mines in Alaska, which are operated under its supervision in a way similar to the utilization of the national forests, and it will manage its own railroads in connection with these mines. These signs point to the day when the government will condemn and buy the vast mineral resources of the country, and control the industries dependent on them. The cost could be met by bonds, to be retired eventually by the profits from the management of the mines. The bases of our national life would then be operated, as they should be, for the benefit of all; the citizens would own the country; it would be their country in a very real sense. Oil, gas, and water-power sites would of course fall into government possessions in the same way, and the enormous electrical development of the future will be national, not for the benefit of individuals.
Needless to say, such radical changes will not come at one blow. We are feeling our way in that direction already. The present trade commission will inevitably develop into a regulatory body, with powers over all interstate business similar to those now exercised over transportation by the commerce commission, long before government ownership of fundamental resources can become an accomplished fact. Along with this trend of development will come a gradual breaking down of state lines, and a gradual transference of all economic control, by constitional amendment if necessary, to the central government.
There will be uniform national regulation of the conditions of labor in the great interstate businesses, including minimumwage, maximum-hour, and safety-appliance laws, with drastic restrictions on the labor of women and children. Government employment bureaus, and insurance to cover death, disability,
unemployment, and old age will be supported, in part at least, by income, inheritance, and unearned increment taxes. Court procedure will be simplified, making the remedy of the law accessible to the poor. There will be rigid municipal housing and sanitary laws with ample provisions for parks and recreation. The present tendency to build good state and county roads will be enlarged and coördinated with a great national system. Above all, there must be national supervision over educationno more cases of having to fight trustees for academic freedom
securing greater uniformity and higher standards of work, insuring also vocational guidance and training, as well as instruction in citizenship. Needless to say, compulsory attendance to a reasonably advanced age will be the basis of such a national system of education. To meet the high cost of living, the municipal governments must encourage the formation of consumers' leagues, compel honest advertising, take over markets, abattoirs, railway terminals, and distributing facilities, while the national government must limit speculation in food stuffs by fixing maximum prices in times of emergency.
While the drift in this country is toward centralization of control of industry to an ever greater degree, it is evident that before government extension in the economic field can advance much further, great changes in public opinion, and more especially in our political organization, must come about. With the horrible examples of pension abuses, the pork barrel, the army and navy wastes, municipal grafts and franchise stealing, one can imagine what would happen if our present type of politicians got their figures in national insurance, railroad management, and coal and iron production. However, there is a new type of public man —statesman rather than politician — coming into power, and great awakening in public interest in civic affairs has already brought some minor changes in political organization, especially in city government. Let us examine the main trend of political development such as would make possible sweeping economic reforms such as outlined above, thus promoting a new spirit of patriotism. Moreover, it must be remembered that such political changes, giving us efficient government, must not threaten the downfall of popular control and the upbuilding of an autocracy, if the American spirit is to be preserved.
POLITICAL REFORMS NECESSARY
One great weakness in our political thinking has been a tendency to distrust our able men, and tie their hands while in office by a system of divided authority very baneful to constructive achievement. A curious contrast to this has been an equal distrust of the judgment of the mass of citizens, making it impossible to allow definite issues of great importance to be decided by a majority of voters directly. The result has been to drive our best brains into private business, to inculcate a feeling of impotence and sullen indifference to public affairs in large numbers of citizens, and to put our government in the hands of petty partisans who regard it as a mass of spoils to be fought for among themselves. To remedy such conditions, vital changes, even to the adoption of a very different constitution, are necessary. Perhaps a great national disaster may result in the calling of a constitutional convention; or piecemeal changes may so break the spell of tradition, that a congress of the new progressive type of statesmen may voluntarily take such a step. At any rate, in the interests of efficiency without autocracy, we must have free rein and greater power for executives while in office, and more direct responsibility to the voters. Bearing these principles in mind, a rapid survey of concrete constructive reforms in government, suggested in the last few years, will be of interest.
To begin with the national government, the most difficult to alter, the judicial department has been most severely criticised as a usurper of power and an obstruction to progress. The power to pass upon the constitutionality of laws should be taken away from the supreme court, on the assumption that a law which has passed congress and been approved by the president should not be made null on technical grounds, by a body which always lags far behind public sentiment, and is buried so deeply in tradition as to be slow to respond to the changed conditions and needs of a dynamic society. It has been suggested that life tenure be abolished, and supreme court judges be elected, in order to make them more responsive to public opinion. But the many obvious defects in such an arrangement, principally the lengthening of the ballot, thus harassing the voters; divided
responsibility; the danger of introducing party politics in the courts, and the impossibility of the general public passing on the qualities for such an office embodied by various candidates; make it unwise. The same result of responsiveness to public opinion could be obtained by empowering the president, the man most directly responsible to the public, who can generally be held for results achieved, because he is the centre of interest and publicity, to dismiss any federal judge, including supreme court members, for persistent obstructive tactics, providing congress concurs by a majority of votes in such dismissal.
The legislative department has been, next to the judicial, a target for criticism, along somewhat different lines. Direct election of senators has done much to remove the charge of obstructive tactics so often made against the upper chamber, yet many think a single house would be less unwieldly than the present congress, and it undoubtedly would tend to concentrate responsiblity and simplify the problem of voting intelligently. The old objection of hasty legislation is but a sample of distrust of the mass of voters, and the senate was unquestionably devised as a check on popular control, as well as a check on the power of the majority of the the country as a whole as against individual sections. But the modern need for centralization demands that sectionalism bow to the general good. A final consideration is that the increased power of members of a singlechamber congress would tend to draw bigger men, and help the voters concentrate their attention on electing good men, in accordance with the recognized tendency of a short ballot. The most serious charges against congress have been undue interferences with administrative departments, and failure to handle public money wisely. The first defect is important, and should be remedied by limiting the powers of congress to investigation and recommendation, where management or internal construction of a department is concerned. Should the administration refuse to act on such recommendation, congress should have the power to refer the issue to the people for direct vote, at the next general election, or in case of great emergency, impeachment could be resorted to. The even more important question of inefficient handling of money will be considered under the executive department.