Banking and Currency
THE POLITICAL ASPECT OF THE PROBLEM OF FINANCES.
When one thinks seriously, and honestly follows the study of the truths preciously stated in regard to finances, he realizes that the systems of short selling and others practised by the speculators, who give almost nothing and receive everything in return for their juggling of credits, are of extreme importance when compared with the tariff and the many other problems that are given first consideration by Congress. The statement that the tariff problem should receive the first consideration of Congress is absurd, and has grown out of the trickery of party bosses, and been incorporated into party pretenses as a means of inducing the people to transfer what is called the responsibility of government from one party to another, even after both have shown utter incompetence to deal with great problems. The transfer has been made more than once on the tariff issue. It may be interesting to note how many statesmen there are who believe that the cost of living can be reduced by making the people of other countries help to feed and clothe us. It may not occur to them that if a combination can be put up in a country as extensive as the territory of our own, the same methods will ultimately, in fact, already have been extended in a large measure to all of the world. It does not seem to have occurred to them that the tariff is merely an administrative measure and that what might be a suitable tariff measure today may be unsuited to our condition in less than a year. In fact, we shall see in a later study that the whole tariff system as now practiced is false. It is one of the jokers which are used to fool the people from time to time. But, even though we have been fooled into shifting the so-called responsibility of government from the shoulders of one party to those of another, when we should have taken it from all parties and placed it where it belongs, with the people, we may, notwithstanding, force the party falsely claiming the sole responsibility for the present government, to aid us in securing reforms in financial legislation that will actually make the people independent of the infernal system now in practice.
The currency and banking problem should not be a political one in the sense that politics are commonly understood and considered. Politics ought to be made a matter of business. It ought to be taken out of the control of political charlatans and administered by representatives with common-sense business judgments. If that were done the currency and banking problem, as well as other social problems, would be dealt with from the standpoint of business principles. Partisanship has been the cause of retarding all social progress.
The interests have done everything that has been possible for them to do in order to divide the people of this country into factions commonly known as political parties, because it was directly in their interest to do so. The interests can deal with the political bosses much more satisfactorily than they could with half or more of the peoples representatives. Party government is factional government and not national government. Anyone who claims that political parties are required in order that some one shall be made responsible for government is either ignorant or dishonest. Anyone who claims that all of the peoples representatives cannot rule in the interests of a majority of their number, better than a political party can rule by a majority of its number, is not informed in the elementary principles of democracy. If there are too many members of a legislative body to make it practicable, reduce their number sufficiently to render it practicable.
It would seem that the people are too well advanced in their understanding to permit government by caucus, yet that kind of government is practiced by Congress. It is not strange, though, that this false practice is allowed, in view of the fact that the people have not taken a sufficient part in the government, even though the government is entirely their business and they are to blame for the frauds perpetrated upon them. If they paid attention to their own interests the political parties would not be able to run a legislative body that is supposed to represent all of the people and actually represents merely a faction of them.
The one prominent thing that the political parties have done from time to time has been to create jobs for professional politicians. The survival of party government, instead of the administration of the government by the people for themselves, is due to the peoples neglect of their own best interests. It is not strange, in view of that fact that the officers, politicians and job- seekers seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the people, and run the government for selfish purposes. The great special interests have encouraged, both by direct and indirect means, the division of legislative bodies up into factions each of which supports some certain political party. They have furnished aid to the leading politicians in every possible manner. But, after all, what are we to do about it ?
There is no general rule by which we can distinguish a professional politician from one who is not. The leaders in the game of politics are cunning and intellectual, as well as technical and adroit in their moves, and this adroit cunningness usually increases in proportion to the increasing information obtained by the people behind them. There is no sure rule by which to know who is or is not friendly to the peoples government. It requires eternal vigilance, and even that sometimes does not make timely discoveries. To be observing and keep informed on general principles is about all that one can do.
There are some things, however, that may be of aid to a voter. He should be able to discriminate between a reasonable and unreasonable statement made by persons or contained in the press. Take, for instance, the following notice which appeared and was substantially the same in the press generally :
Mr. Underwood, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and President Wilson will have a conference this evening on the new tariff bill, to determine if it is satisfactory to the Administration.
The next day the press gave notices of the meeting and stated that the bill had been gone over. The purpose of this news item was to impress upon the public mind the idea that the President was directing the legislation. In this connection it is only necessary to suggest to the intelligent that all that the President could possibly learn about the tariff bill in one or two hour conferences, even if several times repeated, might be compared to the impression that a farmer and his team would make on a thousand-acre field after one or two hours of plowing. In fact, all of the statements made about the directing power exerted by the President over Congress are folderoy when considered from the standpoint of a proper government. The President has less time to give to the study of any particular bill than any Member of Congress. He is probably the hardest worked man in all of the country, and it is certain that he has less time to give to the study of detailed matters, because of his more numerous duties, than Members of Congress. The Presidents executive duties alone place upon him a greater burden than that placed upon any other official. He requires a large Cabinet to aid him in carrying out his duties. How could he successfully span his powers over Congress and control the details of even the material provisions of the most important and complicated bills ? It is a physical impossibility, and we should not be led to believe that the president can do anything of the kind. Every Member of Congress should feel it his duty to take a vital interest in some part of the work to be done in Congress. The President may exercise a great moral influence over Congress in a broad sense, but we shall have to look to Congress to do its own work-the work that it was created to do. To rely upon the President to do the work of Congress is not only unfair to the President, but it would reduce the efficiency of the Government.
Take, for instance, the recent decision of President Wilson to disassociate the Government from extending any influence or connecting in any way with the so-called Six Power Chinese Loan. I believe that his action in that matter will be pointed to in the future as of far greater importance and consequence than anything that has recently occurred. But whether it shall be publicly recognized to be so or not, I now believe it to be of very great importance. We may never actually realize what troubles we have avoided by refusing to connect the Government with that deal. The important matters continually coming before the President are manifold, and they give him responsibilities that are too great to permit him to divert his energies and exercise more than a broad moral influence over Congress.
The most important of all human affairs is government, and yet governments exercise less science and less system in their administrations than is exercised by the great Trusts and Corporations in the performance of their business. Is it not time that we administer the Government of the United States in the general behalf by supplying a systematic, scientific and true economic basis ? We can do this and operate it at least equally as well as the Corporations and Trusts operate their corporate business in behalf of their own stockholders. If we are to accomplish what we desire in that direction we shall have to stop our partisanship in Congress. After that each of the Departments of Government will be enabled to render to the people the service that it was contemplated it should render when it was originally designed.