The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, August 30, 1907, Page 3, Image 3

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    ". l "1ST'
The Cbnimonerl
AUGUST 30; 1907
"i c (? r"i5triji!y)tm'T rjim wi
Professor Charles J. Bushnell of Washing
ton, D. C, who recently made the statement
that the American public was on the verge of
bankruptcy because it expended $0,000,000,000
a year on the criminal, pauper and -vicious .
classes, while the annual increase of wealth ag
gregated only $5,000,000,000, is ready to back
his assertion with an elaborate array of sta
tistics. '
In discussing the subject with the Washing
ton correspondent for ' the Chicago Itecord
Herald, Professor Bushnell said:
"Ten millions of our people, one-eighth of
the population, are -now constantly in such pov
erty that they are unable to maintain them
selves in physical efficiency, and 4,000,000 of
them are public paupers. In 1899, one of our
prosperous years, eighteen per cent, or ifearly
one-fifth of all the people of New York state,
had to apply for charitable relief; in 1903 four
teen per cent of all the families of Manhattan
were evicted, and every year about ten per cent
of all who die there have pauper burials.
"The average wage of unskilled workmen
throughout the country is less than the scientific
minimum necessary for maintaining the average
workingman's family in physical efficiency. And
yet nearly 1,000,000 immigrants from the most
backward sections of Europe, and with less than
$20 each, are being annually dumped into our
congested urban centers, where employment al
ready is greatest, and where the immigrants
have the very least opportunity to live in de
cency and make themselves useful to the coun
try. The transportation agencies are doing this.
These agencies are the self-constituted nation
makers for private gain. If we are thus de
veloping in this country a white race problem
we have to thank the same methods and agencies
that in the past produced our now serious black
race problem.
"The last three United States censuses also
show that the insane in this country have in
creased faster than the population. We now
have in the United States in continuous charit
able care probably 6,000,000 abnormal depend
ents, including, paupers, insane, blind, deaf and
dumb, indigent and discouraged representing
a dead loss to the nation every year equal to
the total wealth we have invested in all the col
leges, universities and technological schools of
the whole country. If we could abolish this one
item of abnornial expense we could double the
facilities oX all our,, institutions of higher educa
tion every year and do it with no extra effort
at all..
"One large source of thisri abnormal de
pendence is our vast aggregate of unnecessary
industrial accidents. Few people begin to realize
our annual national loss frpm this source. At
a conservative figure 1,000,000 workers in tho
United States every year aro killed or Injured
in industry by accidonts, of which fully thrco
quarters are proved by European experience to
be wholly unnecessary and which cost tho nation
annually in lost earning capacity and damage
suits at tho lowest estimate an amount equal to
the wholo wage incomo of the mine-workers or
all tho farm laborers of tho entire country.
"With the growing industrial disorder is asso
ciated a startling recent increaso in crime and
vice. Suicides, have increased in the nineteen
years from 1885 to 1903 more than five times
as fast as tho population. Murders and homi
cides in the twenty years between 1885 and 1905
have increased more than three times as fast
as the population. Even making allowance for
the greater fullness of recent records, nearly
9,000 suicides and 900 murders occurring "in
1904 and 10,000 in 190G, is not a good record.
Their growth has been almost steady, showing
it is not the resultant of accidental causes, but
of some sinister evil in the nation which is
steadily working Increasing wrong.
"Of professional criminals such as burg
lars, footpads, gamblers and other crooks, there
aro now known and estimated to bo some 300,
000 in the country, getting an average Incomo
each of perhaps $1,500 a year, and causing an
additional national expense for police protection,
to say nothing of oxta oxponso for locks, safes,
alarms, etc., of $2,000,000,000 more, making
a total annual loss to the nation from thiB source
more than counterbalancing tho value of all our
annual exports of manufactures, or nearly equal
to the annual running expenses of all our
churches, benevolent Institutions, public schools,
institutions of higher education and homo mis
sions of every kind.
"Of unprofessional crime in business and
politics, in the form of graft It is impossible to
make an accurate estimate, but the annual na
tional loss from that source must be at least
twice that from professional crime. This class
consists of ,an oligarchy composed of thrco
classes saloon-keepers, gamblers and others
who engage in business that degrades; contrac
tors, capitalists, bankers and others who can
make money by getting franchises and other
property of tho community cheaper by bribery
than by paying tho community; politicians who
are willing to seek and accept offlee with the
aid and indorsement of tho classes already men
tioned. These three classes combine and get
control of the party machine, nominate and elect
men who will agree to help them rob the city
and state for tho benefit of themselves, and who
will agree also not to enforce the laws in regard
to the various businesses that degrade a community."
In his speech at Columbus Mr. Taft admit
ted what . democrats have all along asserted,
namely, that the Elkins law was favored by the
railroads because it repealed the imprisonment
clause of the interstate commerce law.
On this point Mr. Taft said: "Under the
1889 amendment, however, the individuals con
victed could have been sent to the penitentiary
whereas under the Elkins act, the punishment
by imprisonment was taken away while the fine
was increased. The chief effect the Elkins law
had on these particular prosecutions, which have'
been given so much prominence, was to make it
easier to convict the corporation and to increase
Its fine, but to save the guilty individual perpe
trators from imprisonment. It is well under
stood that the Elkins bill was passed without
opposition by, and with the full consent of, the
railroads, and that the cliief reason for this was
the elimination of the penitentiary penalty for
unjust discriminations."
Democrats will do well to keep this extract
from Mr. .Taft's address conveniently at hand
for the information of their republican friends.
Secretary Taft gives three reasons for op
posing government ownership, namely:
"First Because existing government rail
ways are not managed with either the efficiency
or economy of privately managed roads and the
rates charged are "not as low and therefore not
as beneficial to the public. -
- "Second Because it would' 'involve an ex
penditure of certainly $12,000,000,000 to ac
quire the interstate railways and the creation of
an enormous national debt.
"Third Because it would place in the
hands of a reckless executive a power of con
trol over business and politics that the imagina
tion can hardly conceive, and would expose our
popular institutions to danger."
The first proposition is not sound. In the
countries which have both systems tho govern
ment roads are preferred by the people, as shown
by the fact that government roads are being
extended. It is not fair to compare government
roads ABROAD with private roads HERE be
cause conditlons; are different. If he will com
pare municipal water and lighting plants in this
country with plants owned by private corpora
tions he will find that plants owned by the mu
nicipalities are managed with, more efficiency and
economy and charge lower rates.
Mr. Taft's second objection is that govern
ment ownership would Involve an enormous
debt. It is sufficient to say that a government
debt bears a lower rate of interest than rail
road bonds and that, as the people now pay
Interest on the railroad bonds (through railroad
rates) their burdens would be actually de
creased by government ownership. The saving
would be even more than tho lower interest
would indicate because the people are now pay
ing on an inflated capitalization. The secretary
conveniently overlooks the fact that the adop
tion of the system would be gradual and that
the people would be guided by experience as they
As for tho third objection it Is only neces
sary to compare the mail service in tho hands ' '
of the government with the railway service in '
private hands. In 1896 there was a great deal
moro coercion pragtlccd on tho railway em
ployes than on tho railway mall clerks, arid oven
thjs might bo lessoned by Improvements in the
civil sorvlco. Thon, too, undor a dual owner
ship, it would bo impossible for a national ad
ministration to make a political uso of tho roads
owned by tho soveral Btatos.
But Socrotary Taft's discussion of govern
ment ownership was immaterial, first, becausa
it Is not a prosont Ibsuo, and hocoihI bocauHo ho
admits that if tho remedy for present evils l
STAYED." In other words, tho ovlls of gov
ernment ownership, oven as ho magnifies thorn,
will bQ preferable to prosont ahuBcs. Tho rail
roads, ho declares, "havo boon weighod In tho
balance and found wanting."
The secretary's remarks on this subject,
while displaying considerable Ignoranco, will
serve at least one useful purposo, namely, they
will impress replibllcanB with tho nccossity of
favoring oven moro radical rogulatlon than Mr,
Taft suggests.
While sadly discommoded by tho strike of
telegraph operators, tho general public should
not forgot that tho striking operators aro asking
for only that which seems reasonable and Just.
They have asked for a reasonable wage, a rea
sonable work day and equal pay for oqual -vork.
Tho last contention is, porhaps, tho main ono,
The operators demand It because it would put a
stop to discrimination and thoy would base re
muneration on ability and experience and not
upon sex or favoritism. One of tho boat argu
ments In favor of trades unions Is that thoy aro
bringing about equal pay for equal work, with
out regard to the sex of tho worker.
Just now the government is engaged in
tho task of "preserving and restoring American
forests, spending for that purposo soveral mil
lions of dollars a year. At tho same time It puts
a premium on the destruction of American for
ests in the shape of a protective tariff duty of
$2 per thousand foet on lumber. Tho consum
ers pay tho extra $2 per thousand feet, which
hastens the total destruction of American for
ests, and at tho same time they foot tho bills
for tho forest reserve department. As a casd
of saving at the spigot and wasting at the bung-
hole this situation Is deserving of the premium'
for utter foolishness. : .1
, I-
In 1884 Theodore Roosevelt was a radical
froo trader and one of the leading members of
tho Free Trade League. In 1904 he had "pro
gressed" until he dubbed as "closet philosoph
ers" those who denounced tho Iniquities of tho
protective tariff. A Httl j later ho cut out of hi '
message all reference to tho tariff because the '
"standpatters" so advised, and for threo yeara
last past he has utterly ignored the tariff In all
of his public and official utterances.
At this rate of "progression" towards tariff
reform how long will it bo ere the tariff sched
ules are revised in the Interests of tho people
who foot the bills?
The Chicago papers which helped to defeat.
Mayor Dunne aro complaining that Busso is
running the city on tho wide open plan and
that the traction question is still unsettled.
What did they look for? They havo only them
selves to blame. The Busse administration is
just what might have been expected.
, The recommendation of "national incorpor
ation" by which the great corporations expeel
to escape from the "hardship" of state regu
lation is the first indication that tho preslden'
might be persuaded to run again.
-If Wall Street' can get "national Jiicorpof. "
atlonV-fof railroads and business' corporatibnsVii"
can forgive thepresident for all the 'reforms' hi J '
has advocated.
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