The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, January 01, 1915, Page 13, Image 13
v v" o The Commoner 'JANUARY, 1915 13 'r Who Owns Our Government? v.?WeAre.Sure of One Thing, the People Do Not"-Theodore F. Thieme ' Following' Is & special report to. the Indiana pally Timee: . , '. Terra Haute, Ind., Oct. 16. The Federated Commercial clubs, convention, which convened here yesterday, is wondering, what Theo. F. Thiemo of Ft. Wayne handed it No speaker will cause more comment than has followed Thieme's discussion of the movement for a new constitution for Indiana. The Ft. Wayne manufacturer literally "burned up" machine rule in Indiana and showed con clusively that industrial freedom depended upon political freedom which in turn is only possible through radical changes in Indiana's constitu tion. As the most glaring example of what the peo ple may expect under present conditions in In diana, Mr. Thieme held up the state public ser vice, commission, and his arraignment of that board, coming as it does from one of the most successful business men in Indiana, was easily the sensation of the convention. 'Mr. Thieme said "the. law (publicr service commission law) was framed by public utility lawyers; it was passed through the legislature by public utility agents; It is executed by a commission, made up of. .politicians and public utility lawyers. Where' do you suppose the people's Interests come in?" Mr. Thieme, wbo is the head of the big knit ting mills at Ft. Wayne, spoke as follows J . "In my work for the 'Business System of City Government' movement in this state I was fre quently confronted With- the statement by secre taries of commercial clubs, 'Our organization will not consider political questions.' While a majority of our business organizations did disJ cuss; arid 'called meetings in the interest of, a' movement lfoF better city government, others, including some of 'the large? organizations, would' no.t permit Its discussion. "Nearly all articles of association of com mercial clubs contain this section: " 'The object of said association shall be not to promote, but to foster, protect and extend the commercial, mercantile and manufacturing interests of the city; to advance the growth, beautiflcatloh'and material welfare of he com munity:' "These clubs are organized to give expression to public sentiment, and so should become the public forum and mouthpiece of a community; they should watch over the welfare of the city and guard its privileges. And while it becomes the duty of such organizations to consider polit ical questions, there should be no place for par tisan politics; while they should assist in clear ing up and .destroying the ugly 'wigglers' in the muddy, pool of politics, they should not plunge Into the, pool nd become soiled and contamln-? ated .themselves. On the other hand the con trol of such clubs should not be 'allowed to get into the hands of politicians; whenever they do political questions are barred, and the real use fulness of such a club is at an end. "I am sorry to say that the leading clubs of our state today are controlled by the 'political machine.' The purpose is not only to stifle in th club material welfare work depending on political agitation, but by keeping silent to quiet all apprehension and suspicion on the part of the public. "What Is the result? Our business and pro fessional men, as a, body, are ignorant of the simplest questions of government or political policy; they are apathetic and discouraged. The intelligent working people of the state, as a body, are statesmen, as compared with the av erage business man. I can vouch for this through three years of experience. "Our commercial clubs should be" civic edu cational centers, to teach the' people the simple, sound principles of government; to investigate and report on the great political and economic questions of the day, 'especially those directly affecting our cities, to create enlightened citi zenship and a community sense among our peo ple, thereby establishing a healthy, progressive and sound government for all the people, as a substitute for. our present destructive, unsound, , 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 SIGNIFICANT STATEMENTS Here are some of the statements made to the Commercial clubs in Terro Haute, Ind., in a speech by Theo. F. Thieme of the Ft. Wayne knitting mills: Our present systom of government is rotten to the core. Perhaps the most glaring instance of a bold raid and an utter disregard on the part of the machine for the rights of the people, and especially the work ing people, is found In the state public utility law passod by the same notorious legislature. Supposedly designed to pro tect the people and the cities from the merciless tyranny of public franchise corporations, we find this situation: The law was formed by public utility law yers; it was passed through the legisla ture by public utility agents; it is exe cuted by a commission made up of politicians and public utility lawyers. Where do you suppose the people's in terests come in? They created the position of political boss, who was made the confidential agent, the go-between, of the new cap italistic organization. Nearly every city hap one of these bosses. Some are big, some little; some have been admitted to the throne room, some get their orders in the back yard. Combined, these bosses form the political machine. They are bi-partisan and control both parties. The spoils system of office furnishes the working machinery. I am sorry to say the leading clubs of our state today are controlled by the political machine. Who owns our government? We are sure of one thing, the people "do not." At most, the total cost of the constitu tional convention and special elections would be about $650,000. That looks like a large sum, but the governor of Ohio makes the statement and proves it, that the new constitution saved the state of Ohio $4,000,000 the first year. 0 0 0 0 0 , wasteful system for the benefit of a' few. When we do that, gentlemen, our commercial and sim ilar organizations will take on new life and ac complish wonderful things for our cities. Instead of spending our energy and money in locating questionable enterprises, let us preserve those we have, and make our cities so attractive to both capital and labor as to induce others to flock to us. "The question may be asked, 'Why must the commercial clubs take up these questions; what are our government, our political parties, or officials for?' It is my purpose to answer this question and also show you the great political question which should command our first atten tion at this time, namely, a 'New Constitution for Indiana SOCIETY MADE UP OF TWO CLASSES "Our society is made, up of two classes, the 'governed' and the 'governing.' The struggle for supremacy between these two classes is as old as the centuries. All power, all wealth and privilege comes from the 'governed' the people. The aim of the 'governed' Is to secure that power and retain it for the conservation of wealth and privilege that is democracy. On the other hand, where that power Is secured by the 'governing' class, it Insures them wealth and privileges of the governed that is pluto cracy. It therefore always happens that any laws designed in the interest of the 'governed' as against the interest of the 'governors' aro opposed by the 'governors.' "This struggle is universally a very unequal one, because the 'governors are a small, com pact body, thoroughly organized, whose business and livelihood is governing, while the 'governed' (the peoplo) aro a lnrge, unwieldy maws, with out organization, whoso main business is to make a living for themsolvos and famlllee. Thin is especially true In a new, 'naturally rich coun try liko the United States, with Its rapidly grow ing population, and Inirnoniely profitable com munity undertakings. 'K "It must bo clear to you" thon why we, the people, do not got, and must not expect, sup port and assistance for any political measure designed to protect us from tho exploitations ot tho 'governors,' or give us relief from conditions which retard us in our progress, or which put unjust burdons upon us. It thorofore become necessary for tho 'governed' to have organisa tions for their protection, and as such our com mercial clubs should take tho lead and carry out the purpose of their organizations 'to advance tho material welfare of tho people.' WHO OWNS OUR GOVERNMENT? "Who owns our government? We aro sure of ono thing, the peoplo do not. They pay the taxes, croato tho wealth and furnish the votes, yet they do not own their government. Then who does? Lot mo briefly toll you: "Sixty-throo years ago, In tho year 1851, the pooplo of Indiana adopted a new state constitu tion to replace tho one adopted thirty-five year , prior to that, in 181G. Tho old instrument had, boon outgrown, so thoy brought their funda mental laws, or tho 'rights of tho people' up to date. Wo will assumo that tho men who com posed tho constitutional convention wore hon est, and perhaps above tho average In intelli gence, and that they wroto tho best constitution thoy know how to wrlto and could agree upon, according to conditions existing at that time. However, thoy could not look' into tho future and so could not make provision for it. They thought so much of their work and believed i It so thoroughly that they protected it by mak ing It practically unamondablo. Thoy provide that any proposed amendment must bo passed by a majority vote of both houses of tho legist"1 lature, at two successive sessions, and then be submitted to tho peoplo for a vote, and that it must secure a majority of all votes cast at the election, not a majority of tho votes cast on suck an amendment; and whllo such an amendment was pending, no other arnendmonts could be proposed. 'A majority of all votes cast' wan, rocently well illustrated by a speaker. Ho said: 'Wo will suppose a meeting of ono hundred peo ple. A vote Is to bo taken. Tho speaker an nounces, "All In favor of tho motion ariso" " and fifty men rise to their feet. "Those op posed will rise" and ton men rise. The speaker announces, "Thoro aro fifty ayes and ten nays, but as a majority of thoso present I fifty-one, tho motion Is lost." That means that thoso who do not vote aro counted against, No body would consider that fair, yet that is the method prescribed in our constitution. This has proven such a' handicap that although many at tempts have been made in the last sixty-three years to amend our constitution, yet at no elec tion has a majority of all votes cast been se cured. At present thirty-five states have abol ished this unfair provision, but Indiana still struggles along with it, and. the agents of the 'governors' tell us boldly, 'We can secure all reforms by amendments we don't need a new constitution THE CITY PROBLEM THEN AND NOW "In 1851 tho largest city in the state had a population of 8,000. We Iiad no city problems, and these constitution makers could not fore see the modern business city with its great ac tivities, both in its development and in its main tenance. "And what Is a city? It is the unorganized mass of the 'governed.' The assembling of this mass within a limited area makes the city, and in order to create living conditions and make it possible for this mass to 'live and let live' they themselves must provide certain things, and un dertake certain functions, such as street paving sewer construction, bridge building, public schools, fire and police departments, parks, transportation in the city, gas, electric lights, water, telephones, etc. Thj city has become a huge business and manufacturing corporation", with this unorganized mass as tax-paying stock holders. " The carrying out of the functions of this 'city corporation' necessitates the letting of con tracts, granting of franchises, employing of many people, buying and selling activities in volving the expenditure of millions of dollars, (Continued- on Page 20 ) i T i i i !