The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, January 08, 1909, Page 2, Image 2

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The Commoner.
In a dispatch to the Chicago Record-Herald
Waiter Wellman says: "The president's if riends,
oa the other hand, argue that the libel did in
volve the government, becauso it was said by
some paper that the government had tried to
cover up the .facts, and tlirtt therefore the good
name of the nation was involved, and Mi. Roose
velt Is justified in. his vigorous efforts to protect
and defend it. They say it will prove a whole
some lesson to newspaper editors and :others,
and in this way have a far-reaching effect in
protecting public men and government officials
from slanderous publications in and out of cam
paign seasons. These friends of the president
praise his extraordinary energy in thus coming
to the defense of the national reputation."
. Now just what is "the government" in the
American sense? Mr. Wellman uses the term as
though it wero a coterie of government employes
hired men, if you pleaso although Secretary
of War Wright became highly indignant when
the chief executive was referred to as "a hired
In recent yeara newspaper writers have ac
quired the habit of referring to the public offi
cials,' who represent the government, as the gov
ernment itself. This form of expression is of
recent use so far as America is concerned. Years
ago we, never heard it in that sense. In United
States court rooms where prosecutions were go
ing on wo often heard "the government" re
ferred to but it was in the sense that the term
"tho people" is used in Indictments and prosecu-
"" MfiNatfg ;somo of the states. But Blnce we ad6pt-
auuuiQ ways xjriuivt3ria.iiaiti, aince we undertook
the un-Amcrlcan method of govmrnine colonies
and without their -consent we have become quite
accustomed to tho phrase "the government"- as
applied to tho men who., in the old-fashioned
lew, are supposed to be merely the representa
tives; of the government. : ; t r ,
In American dpctrino "the government" is
the people and the thing to which Mr. Wellman
refers as 'the government" is the administra
tionthat belng the term which well describes
tho organization of individuals upon whom de
volve, for the time being, the duty of adminis
tering the affairtf of government.
, This Viewpoint, therefore, provides explanation-
for several things. The government hatf :
not, .as, Mr.U( Wellman says some charge, 'tried
to coyer upjtho facts" and this regardless of
what the administration or any of its members,
may have, done. The gover.nment--r-otherwise
tho people want the facts made known, And,
should it develop that any one who has been .
trusted with, authority has been guilty of wrong-?
doing the government wants, those officials .pun
ished;, and; should it develop that false accusa
tions have been made Jiho government wants
thqse-officials cleared. Bui the government will
not proceed against any one. charged with libel
except as in one of the (states it permits the use
of its authority to .enable the injured party to
bring 'proceedings. Let tho young reader keep
clearly defined the difference between "the gov
. rninent" and "the administration" and he will
have a more perfect conception of the American
form of government than seems just now to be
held by some of the individuals temporarily high
Jn authority. . ,
The comptroller of the currency, Lawrence
A. Murray, has submitted his annual report
from which the following facts are gleaned: The
national banks in the United States number
6,824; the state and private banks and trust
companies, 14.522. The aggregate resources of
the. national banks amount to 8,714 million dol
lars; the aggregate resources of the other banks,
10,86 9 millions. There axe nearly thirteen mil
lion Individual deposits, about one-third of them
depositing in tho national banks. The national
banks hold nearly nine hundred millions of cash;
the other banks 479 millions. The growth, of
the banks has beon about seventy-five per cent
in the last eight years; the average rate of divi?
dends paid by the national banks during the
last year was 10. 9 per cent.
Last year was a profitable year for the na
' tional banks a net profit of nearly fifteen per
f:ce'nt is certainly a good snowing. And yet with
r ,that large a profit secured through the laws that
give confidence in banks, the bankers are, as a
rule, unwilling to pay tho slight tax that would
be necessary to make their depositors absolute
ly secure. ' Experience has shown that a tax of
less than one per cent would have protected all
depositors in national banks from the possibility
of loss during tho last forty years, and yet the
prominent bankers, while making their money,
out of the depositor's money, are unwilling to
give him tho security that he needs.
' The growth in bank deposits furnishes a .
lesson in the science of money. Those who scoff
at tho quantitative theory of money and insist
that the number of dollars in circulation, Is not
material, just so all dollars are good, are in
y.ited to .consider the following proposition: The.
law requires a reserve to be kept In each, hank
for' the protection of deposit. Suppose the de
posits amount to ten billions, a fifteen per cent
reserve would require, a billion and a half of
money. Now suppose that deposits double, how
can tho banks keep a reserve of three billion
dollars for the protection of twenty billions of
deposits unless the volume of money keeps pace
with population and business? Unless the
money supply is sufficient to furnish a safe re
serve, banking must be done upon an insecure
basis. Where would we have obtained the
money to furnish reserves for our increased de
posits but for the unexpected discoveries of gold?
Tho prosperity that we have had during the last
twelve years would have been impossible on
the quantity of money that we had in 1896
when republican speakers said that we had
onough and that a -rising dollar was a blessing.
4 ' I ,
fc tV V tV
The House of Lords, In Great Britain, has
read the handwriting on the wall and is pre
paring to surrender its position as obstructer
of the popular will. Feeling the force of the
movement started against it by the House of
Commons, the House of Lords appointed a com
mo ho -oonoidor 0 question of . reformation.
That committee has reported; it" recommends a
reduction of the membership of the House of
Lords from 617 to 350 and it proposes that this
reduction shall be brought about in the follow
ing manner,: The; .hereditary peers are to be
formed into an. electoral body and are to elect
200 of their number to serve -during; a single'
parliament.-. The twenty-six, bishpps are torse
lect ten.;; the colonies are to be 'given representa-'
tion in the. House of Lords, and' a -certain '.num
ber of hereditary peers, estimated' at 130, pos
sessing certain qualifications shall sit in their
own right, this numbed to include men whb have
had the post of cabinet, minister; viceroy, governor-general
of Canadav etc. , Irish peers Tvho "
have served tor twenty years in the House of.
Commons shall be seats. .
The plan proposed, by. the. House of Lords,
is not so important as the; 'fact that the members -of
that body 'recognized that something.?lmust :
be, done. This is the most conservative body in j
England possibly the, most conservative parlia
mentary body in Europe and the. friends of
democracy can find no better proof tf the growth
of democratic ideas than tho fact that the ancient
and aristocratic House of Lords bends before
the, onrushing tide of popular government. If
the liberal victory has accomplished nothing
else, it has forced upon the attention of Great
Britain and the world the fact that aristocracy
can no longer stand against the democratic
2rl -w t O
Judge Gary, the head of the steel trust, re
cently appeared before the ways and means
committee. In answer to a question propounded
by Congressman Cockran, he said that the steel
company could "continue to make a profit with
out any protection," and added: "Remove all
steel duties and we "will still dominate the Amer
ican market, but ive will dominate it as a mon
opoly. That is the problem that confronts the
committee:" Mr. Cockran smilingly replied:
"Of course, I understand your sensibility for
the pending misfortunes of your competitors."
Finding it impossible to defend the steel tariff,
tho trust magnates took the position that they
can get along without the tariff, but that it will
be hard upon their competitors to have the
tariff removed. Even Mr. Carnegie was touched
by this solicitude shown by the steel trust offi
cials for the weaker rivals whom it is driving
out of business. This is the defiant attitude
which the steel trust assumes, out suppose con
gress should decide not to allow the steel trust
to dominate the American market? Suppose
congress should put a limit to tho proportion of
any product that any corporation might control'
What would the steel trust do then? It is just
this very situation that the democratic platform
meets and which no other platform attempts
to meet. If tho democratic plan is adopted
tho steel trust will be limited to an output which
will give competition a chance. It will be seen,
therefore, that the trust question is closely inter
woven -with the tariff question and that no real
progress; is going, tot be I mad: -until' those 'en
trusted with legislation .are ready tofdeal thor
oughly with the economic prohienur which now
demand consideration. -"' -" '
. Here!s to the democracy of Pennsylvania:
May Its tribe increase. It the national party
spent as much time on Pennsylvania as it does
on New York the Keystone gtate might be
brought into the democratic column. Look at
the vote this year. With no. work done in the
state by the national committee and yet tho.
total democratic vote was 113,000 more than
in 1904, while in New York with all the effort
made the democratic vote fell off 15,000. In
New York the democratic vote Is in the cities,
while in Pennsylvania it is In the country
and the rural vote fluctuates less than the city
vote. The tariff issue has made the cities of
Pennsylvania republican but ttiat is likely to
decrease in influence, while the financial inter
ests which dominate and terrorize ftew Yorl:
are harder to cope with.
An immediate fight ought to be made to
gain congressmen In Pennsylvania. Let clubs
be organized in the various counties; let dem
ocratic speakers be invited in; let a democratic
weekly be estahllshed in every county where
one does not now exist. The 448,000 demo
crats of Pennsylvania desire more consideration
than they have received. now is the time to
demand, that consideration. Republican corrup
tion In Philadelphia and Pittsburg, as well as
at the state capital, has weakened the allegiance
of republicans; now if the democrats will select
leaders in whom the voters have confidence
there Js a chance to build up. a democratic party
which will one day dominate the state. enn?
sylyania needs democratic principles- applied, to.
her, state and municipal government her people
irmsn.a, goop. neia tor me, missionary.
Some of the-democrats have fallen into tlieC:
republican habit of asking' 'for 'a protective tariff'
on local products on the ground that while' they1
oppose protection generally they want their shared
if there is to be protection. It Is' a dangerous
principle to adopt. Tf the 'protective tariff idea',v
a tariff, for the tariff's sake -is bad, rio derii- ;
ocratic senator .or member1 tan 'afford te 'plant'; his, community. 'Whenever a manufacturer '
or producer adopts the theory that the govern-'
ment: should tax others for his benefit lie is1 a"
republican at heart. He will ultimately join
the republican party and he will hurt the dem
ocratic party less as a republican than a!s''a
The democratic legislator, too, impairs his
usefulness as a tariff reformer when he begins '
to make exceptions in favor of local industries.
The democrat who favors a tariff for revenue
only should stand by his colors and insist on
applying the principle to all the schedules. As
long as he does this he helps the consumers in
their fight against unjust taxation; as soon as
he begins to make exceptions in favor of local
Industries he destroys the force of his own argu
ments and builds up in his community an un
democratic influence, for the man vriio demands
privileges for himself will soon see that he must
stand in with others who want privileges.
t )& cfi C5
Mr. Roosevelt has proved once more the
dangers of office, the unbalancing effects of
power on a nature in ivhich the rank growth
of despotic impulse has never met tho pruning
knife of sober self-criticism. He has proved
that the fathers knew what they were about
when they turned from ""centralized govern-
' ment," with all its fair seeming, to a government
of checks and balances, with all its manifest
defects. We may add that in seeking to prove
his critics liars he has come near to proving
them prophets. He has shown his utter incom
prehension of a government of law, as distin
guished from a government of personal impulse.
The liberty which oceans of blood have been
shed to gain he waves aside as outworn theoriz
ing. The bureaucratic despotism which a thou
sand trials have prpven an unmixed cufse he
would recall to gratify his personal whims. He
, has chosen, to make, his enemies rejoice and
his olden friends ashamed; but there is at least
this consolation, that he lacks the power to