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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (May 17, 1907)
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HAY 17, 190Z
fxao of It prornlT fetur may i-tritar
InlOfttiro mid roCerondajn. v
Nomination ol all state, oqanty, dfctricf
mm! township officer by primaries.
Prohibition of lucceeefon la state office. .
Submission, of tlio proktBltion &ueeHon la f
tbe people of tits whole state. -"'
Elective stats corporation commissroiu
T?wo-cent passsiisr fares.
Forbidding railway companissfToni owning
any productive agency of a natural commodity
Fellow servant law.
Prohibiting corporations from owning more
land than is absolutely necessary in the opera
tion of their business.
Prohibition of issuance of watered stock;
books of corporations made subject to inspec
tion at all times.
Appointment of commission to negotiate
purchase of the segregated mineral lands in
Indian territory, valued at many millions of
Fixing legal rate of interest at six per cent
and contract rate at ten per cent.
Compulsory and separate school system.
Labor and arbitration commission.
Commisison of charities and corrections.
' Agricultural commission.
' Oil, gas and mines commission.
Requiring majority vote to amend the con
- In that is not one line that any, expept.
the servitors and sycophants of monopolistic
corporations, can take exception , to. It is a
straightforward declaration for the protection of
the people's rights, by the people's own votes.
Yet a republican congressman from Indiana,
.some two thousand miles away, pomes to Wash
ington to plead against presidential approval of
"the Oklahoman's own action. Why?
If admitted Oklahoma will enter the union
with 800,000 inhabitants. It has now a greater
population than at least fifteen other states,
"some of which have been members of the sister
hood oij states for a century. Ethode Island, one
" of the original thirteen, has a population only
permitting two congressmen; Colorado "the cen
tennial state," admitted In 1876, has but three.
Five congressmen, two senators and at the
appointed time fourteen votes in the electoral
college make up a political prlije worth winning.
JU it possible that the excitement of the Indiana
politician about the "heresies" of the constitu
tion, and the hesitation of the administration
'are at all due to partisan considerations?
Chairman Griggs of the democratic con
gressional committee is confident that, if admit
ted, the state will be carried for the democratic
party. In an interview with me the other night
he pointed out that in the constitutional con
vention ninety-eight out of one hundred and
v twelve delegates were democrats, six republi-
cans, arid two Independents. Wherefore he has
high hopes of final success, and is asking for
dollar subscriptions to a fund, to secure publicity
and political activity when the'election shall bo
Probably the figures that enthused Griggs,
affrighted Watson and the administration. But
both parties might remember that Colorado, ad
mitted by democratic, votes in 1876, gave its
; electoral vote to Hayes and thereby contributed
to his installation as president.
So let an intelligent and reasoning people
set aside the question of partisan advantage and
ask them'selves and the administration these
When a community of 800,000 people
made up of American citizens gathered from
, every state, of the union asks for statehood, shall
it not be granted?
When it has adopted, through delegates
chosen of all the people, a constitution, must
.that instrument be subjected to the august iip-
proval of a politician from Indiana, or an attor-
sney general, not unfriendly to railroads, from
, Maryland? WILLIS J. ABBOTT.
,: ; THE MAN AND HIS WORK
'.I -haven't much faith in the man who complains
. ' Of the work he has chosen to do,
He's lazy, or else he's deficient in brains,
And may be a hypocrite, too.
Hie's likely to cbeat and he's likely to rob;
Away with the man who finds fault with his job.
i. But give me the man with the sun in his face,
f- And the shadows all dancing behind;
"Who can meethis reverses with calmness and
'- grace -
And never forgets to be kind;
For-whether he's wlelding-a scepter or swab,
-0ftiave faith. in the man who's In love with his job.
V- John L. Shroy In Llppincott's;
Initiative and Referendum
Herbert 8, Blgeiow has written, for the
Ohio Direct Legislation League, an interesting
pamphlet showing the growth and benefits of
the initiative and referendum. For the benefit
of those who have beei deceived, Mr. Blgeiow
describes the initiative and referendum in this
It is proposed that this power of direct legis
lation shall be exercised through what are
known as the initiative and referendum. Undor
the initiative it Is provided that if the repre
sentatives refuse to pass a certain law, this law
may be enacted by a direct vote of the people,
provided there is sufficient demand -for the taw
to cause a reasonable percentage of the electors
to petition for its submission. Undor the refer
endum it is provided that no act passed by the
legislature shall take effect until the expiration
of a designated time, and that any law may bo
vetoed by a direct vote of the peoplo provided
there is sufficient opposition to the law to cause,
Within the .time designated, a reasonable per
centage of the electors to petition for its sub
mission. Thus it is made optional with the people
whether or not they will take the trouble to
bring questions to a direct vote. Under this
system they have the convenience of a repre
sentative government, but when in their opinion
their government ceases to represent them, they
may enact or repeal laws by a direct vote at the
polls, thus exercising directly the law-making
If it were marie ncetjisary to get the popular
sanction for aft ..(,,j,rthe convenience of the
representative system would be sacrificed. But
it is an abuse of this system that any law should
be passed in defiance of public sentiment. To
secure the convenience of the representative sys
tem and yet escape its abuses the optional ini
tiative and referendum are needed, whereby the
people can leave everything to their representa
tives if they wish, but do not surrender the right
to participate in legislation directly when they
Mr. Blgeiow gives an illustration from the
- experience of Cincinnati. Read the following:
Cincinnati is unique among the cities of
America in that shp is the owner. of a steam
railroad. The history of this railroad furnishes
a most significant example of the use of the
referendum, in 1896 the politicians resolved
to sell this property. They had to proceed under
an enabling act which the Ohio legislature had
passed ten years before. The Cincinnati council
took the pieliminary steps and the road was
to go for a song.
But it chanced that the legislature had
. placed in the enabling act the provision that the
sale, to be valid, must be ratified by a direct vote
of the people. The vote was taken and the
road was saved.
Subsequently the people ratified a sity
year lease of the road. What that one refeien
dum vote was worth to the city of Cincinnati
may be determined by a comparison of the
two contracts the one which the people reject
ed and the one which they accepted. A mem
ber of the board of sinking fund trustees. Mr.
George W. Harris, was asked for an opinion as
to what the 1896 referendum saved the city.
In reply Mr. Harris- made an analysis of these
contracts in a letter which is appended to the
present pamphlet. Mr. Harris' conclusion Is'
that this referendum In one hundred years' time
will have saved the city $222,000,000. Two and
a quarter million 'a year for 100 years this Is
what the politicians would have squandered if
that enabling act had not contained a referen
These are startling figures and they have
a profound lesson. The people of Cincinnati had
no constitutional right to vote on the sale of
. their railroad. That was a right conferred upon
"them by an act of the legislature. The legisla
ture might have omitted this referendum feat
ure. In that case the people would have had
no power to prevent the sale pf the road.
Any Ohio legislature could pass a law em
powering the Cincinnati counsel to sell the road
without the consent of the people. Laws are'
now on the statute books under which other
property, such as franchise grants in the city
streets, may not only be sold, but given away,
and the people have no voice in the matter.
Mr. Blgeiow concludes his interesting
pamphlet in this way:
The business of the corporation lobbyist
and the legislative blackmailer is to secure bad
laws and obstruct good ones. By the referen
dum the people could defeat bad laws. By the
tnitlatlvo thoy could ovorcomo the obstruction
to good laws. Thus direct legislation would of
necessity discourage corruption and increase the
effectiveness of good citizenship. This is the
unfailing testimony of experlonco in America ar
well as elsewhere. There Is ample reason fox
the faith of the editor of tho Now York Inde
pendent, who said, in tho issuo of November
S3, 10OG: "In our opinion the initiative and
referendum is tho most important 'next step'
ra political reform In this country. Its advent
ought to do wonders in breaking up corrupt
political machines an'd preventing tho passage
of vicious legislation, and undor it real leaders
of tho peoplo will find it easy to arlso on real
Citizens everywhere have awakened with
alarm to a realization of tho abuses of repre
sentative government. Whore shall men 'turn
for tho civic virtue to withstand tho onemlci
of thoropublic? Tho advocates of direct legis
lation say: "Back .to tho peoplo."
Erich of the following have sent in yearly sub
scriptions to The Commoner In number ns fol
lows: U. G. Nicholson, Buffalo, O., 0; W. J. Smith,
Ramona, I. T., 7; J. V. Cooke, Lexington, Mo., C;
W. F. Helbling, Woodsfield, O., 0; John LIchty,
Falls City, Neb., G; W. S. MIzell, Mart, Tex.,8;
E. A. Clark, San Francisco, Gal., 7; A. McCallen,
Berkeley, Cal., 14; Edward Robertson, Mcdford,
Ore., 0; J. F. Kcnney, Okeene, Oki., G; V. II.
Granger, Ventura, Cal., G; D. L. Hutson, Mongo,
In., 7; J. B. Soinmervllle, Indianapolis, Ind., 10;
John Wllschy, Fairvlew, Kan., 8; E, Downey,
West Side, la., 9; "Win. A. Waugh,Ona, W. Va.,
'G; R. G. Wilson, jr., Lees Summit, Mo., 18; Dr.
J. G. Russell, Tucumcarl, N. Mex., 7; R. B Goar,
Sentinel, Okla., G; Win. Kinsey, New Philadelphia,
0., G; E. M. Ellis, New Decatur, Ala., 0; J. D.
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Va., 9; A. Voorhces, Weston, N. J., 11; A. Hctrs
berger,Plnos Altos, N. Mex., 0; L. P. Custer, St
Louis, Mb., 8; Gustav Brccko, Milton, N, D., G;
Warren G, Urown, Whitefleld, N. Ham., 22;
J. M. Summers, Excelsior Springs, Mo., G; W. J.
'Evans, Streatford, la., 0; S. L. Basscl, Lost Creek,
W. Va., 7; Clitts. W. Kirtley, Woodward, la., 0;
David Grubb, Princeton, Ind., 0; Win. Dils, Smith
field, Pa., 11; J. II. Dale, Boone, la., 0; John Don
ahue, Huntley, 111., G; H. Snell, Wilcox, Neb., 10;
S. W. Moon, Sutton, W. Va., 0; Chas. Wright, Ko.
Manchester, Ind., 30; J. L. McGuIre, Fayettevllle,
Ark., 7; W. V. Glesenkamp, Woodsfield, O., 0;
H. A. Odden, Osngc, In., 10; J. N. Walker, Bland,
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Xiincpla, Neb. ' '
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