The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, January 01, 1917, Page 9, Image 9

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    The Commoner
JANUARY, 1917
cnues of the federal' government frhen yom
remember how mafty-en it take toconduet
this federal government, you can see that yon
are either going to build up an enormous bure&a
with a multitude of officials or else you are go
ing to attempt to do this enormous work with a
few men, who can not possibly -attend to it
The first suggestion is, therefore, that In the
very nature of things there can not be an effi
ciont regulation from this central source with
out the creation of machinery that is far be
yond the calculation, so far as I -have seen it
stated, of those who have considered it from
that side.
The second objection is a fundamental one,
namely, that the further you remove the work
of regulation from the people the more difficult
it is for the people to control their representa
tives. If there is any virtue in representative
government, it must be admitted that the rep
resentation is best when the representatives are
nearest home and most completely submissive
to the will of the people. The tendency that
we have observed throughout this country is
already sufficient to have impressed itself upon
several states which have put back into) the
hands of the people a power with which they
had parted that is, reclaiming the . govern
ment through the process of the initiative and
referendum. In that we see evidence of a con
fidence in the people, and a distrust of the peo
ple's representatives.
ONE DIVISION BETWEEN MEN
Now, this distrust rests upon several founda
tions; that is, there are several things that con
tribute to this distrust. In the first place,
there is the natural bias of the man. Every
man has a natural bias. If the word "natural"
is objected to, I possibly ought to say that it
is a bias that Is CONTROLLING whether it
comes in youth or comes after maturity. It
is a bias on one side or the other of the great
line that runs through society. There is just
one division, as I understand it, between men,
and that is the line that separates the man who
is at heart a democrat from the man who is' at
heart an aristocrat, and I need not toll you
gentlemen that I am not using the word 4ldem
ocrat" in a partisan sense. The word is 2,0 Q0
years older than the democratic party. It is
a word which describes an attitude of the hu
man heart, and that attitude which it describes
is just the opposite of the attitude described by
the word aristocrat. They do not differ in hon
esty, the democrats and aristocrats. They differ
in bias, in point of view. The democrat be
lieves in a society built from the bottom. The
aristocrat believes in a society suspended from
the top, and because of this difference of opin
ion the democrat believes that legislation ought
to come up from the people; the aristocrat be
lieves it ought to come down from the few.
To illustrate it, the man who is at heart a
democrat believes that legislation should be
for the masses. His philosophy is that if you
make the masses prosperous that prosperity will
find its way up through all the classed that rest
upon the masses. The aristocrat, because of
his point of view, n&mely, that society is sus
pended from the top, says, and he says it hon
estly, for he believes it, legislate for the well-to-do,
and then be patient and wait until their
prosperity leaks to those below.
Now, when you are choosing a representative
everythingo"epends upon the point of view. He
way be just as honest a man as you could find,
but if he really believes that the well-to-do
must take care of the rest of the people his de
cisions are going to be entirely different from
the decisions of the man who takes the other
point of view, and believes that society is built
from the bottom and that good comes up from
the masses.
Now, it is not always easy to know a man's
fundamental bias imtl you test h'm, and the
further he is from you the more difficult it is
for you to follow him and judge whether he rep
resents you or somebody "else. A democrat
taking the word in its fundamental sense
believes that the representative ought to ACT
for the people. The ar'stocrat believes he ought
to THINK for the people. If you take all this
railway business to Washington you have to de
pend for all your .regulation upon the men
who are elected to congress and to the senate,
WUo como a long distance from home ajid who
are so remote from their constituency that the
constituency is not able to watch them, and to
measure their fidolity la the matter of repre
sentation go that when you aurrendor this
power that the states now have and put it all
here In Washington you make it moro difficult
for the people to watch the mon who are their
exponents and their spokesman.
The second la that the temptations are much
greater If you put the power here than If you
kept It at home, because If an act of congress
ft to affect these railroad systems to the extent
of $50,000,000 a year or $100,000,000 a year,
the railroads And It to their Interest to bring
pressure to bear on the members of congress
and the senators who are to act. I hope you
will not think I am reflecting on the railroads
when I say they may yield to temptation
to exert an influence. I have known thorn to do
so. You may remember that a few years ago
some money was appropriated for the building
.of the Washington depot. Some of you may bo
able to tell me how much it was. Was It not
two or throo millions?
Mr. Esch. I think the District appropriated
about three millions and tho government about
an equal amount.
Mr. Bryan. Congress appropriated some
thing Mr. Cullop. The same as the District one
half. Mr. Bryan. At that time two of tho leading
railroads that enter into this place had their
lobbyists in tho corridor of tho capltol issuing
passes to tho members, and I know of two
cases where the railroad lobbyists refused
passes to men who had voted against the rail
roads' interest. One was a lobbyist of one of
the roads and one was the lobbyist of the other.
If they will send their lobbyists to the capitol
with their pass books of course they can not
do it now, because the pass business has been
prohibited; that is, tho issuing of passes has
been stopped if they will send their lobbyists
to the corridors of the capitol with their check
books to purchase, by passes, tho votes of men
on so small an appropriation as $3,000,000,
what will be tho temptation when a brief stat
ute may mean $50,000,000 or $100,000,000?
I was In congress for a couple of years, and
I know vfiiat difficulty we had whenever any
question affecting tho railroads came up. You
will recall that it took 10 or 15 years'to secure
a change in tho law relating to the interstate
commerce commission, enlarging its powers. It
took 10 or 15 years to secure it, after tho com
mission liad askcl year after year that this
power be granted. What was it that prevented
it? ''It was the influence of the railroads in
your national capital. Your railroads were
powerful enough to thwart the will of the peo
ple on that subject and to influence the sen
ators and members of congress. I remember
that the president of one of the railroads was
elected to congress, and he came, after he was
elected, under the privileges of our rules, and,
sitting on the floor of congress, he directed the
fight against the measure that the railroads
were opposing.
Now, I only mention these as some of the
things you have to consider. When you take
from the states tho power that they have and
put it all here you make every congressional
contest a fight with the railroads of this whole
country, for, remember, that the railroads of
the' whole country will be Interested in the
election of overy congressman In every district.
They wlfl be interested in the election of every
senator from every' state, because one vote may
decide a nuest'on that mav mean $10,000,000
or pvon SI 00,000.000 to them.
CORRUPTING FORCE IN NATION'S POLITICS
So, it seems to me the direct result of this
will be to bring into national politics a corrupt
ing force greater than we have ever known be
fore, and that every congressman will be sub
jected to pressure after ho gets here, and that
we will find these raMroads picking out the men
who are to run and furnishing them the means
with which to secure nominations, and with the
means with which to secure elections not
necessarMy doing things which violate the stat
utes. They may not furnish money, because
under our present law that would have to be
accounted for and corporations can not con
tribute to campaign funds; they can not furnish
passes, because that has been prohibited; but
remember that the railroads run into all the
towns of any importance, and have their agents
there they have their attorneys; they have
their station agents and their adjusters ak4
thoy havo tho mon whom they call, upon to' tes
tify, If damage Is done; if there Is an Injury,
thoro aro certain physicians who testify as te
tho oxtont of tho Injury. They have their en
tire working forco, and when you put the e
tlro working forco of all the railroads behind a
candidato for nomination and, aftor he Is nom
inated, behind the candidate for election, yon
bring Into politics a tremendous special inter
est that can not but have its Influence upon the
politics of the country. And when you send
to Washington a man who comes as tho repre
sentative of any special interest, ho Is open to
tho solicitations of every othor special Interest,
for tho special interests havo to stand together,
and any man who comes with a commission
a secret commission from any special interest
is here to trado his voto on nny subjoct with the
representative of any other special interest that
needs his holp.
Now, that, t-orny mind, Is a consideration
that can not bo overlooked by thoso who are
dealing with this subject in a largo way.
Tho third point is that tho absorption of
legislative power by tho federal government
and tho surrender of all legislative power by
tho stato governments will practically obliterate
the lines of tho states and weakon thorn in the
discharge of their duties, while It will tremend
ously increaso tho centralizing forces that are
at work In our government. I bcliovo that no
ono has better stated tho merits of tho dual
form of government than Webster when he
spoke of an indissoluble union of indestructible
states.
PRESERVATION OF LOCAL UNIT NECESSARY
Now, it is Just as necessary that tho states
should be indestructible as it is that tho Union
shall bo Indissoluble, for our government rests
lor its success upon the plan that onables the
units to take care of tho things that relate to
them, leaving to tho federal government the
control of tho things that relato to all the
states. It is Just as necessary, to my mind, that
the local unit shall be preserved and shall be
safeguarded as it Is that wo shall act as a unit
""on all matters that affect tho nation. And that
is necessary for exactly the same reasons that I
havo mentioned before. Tho pooplo at home
can better attend to tho things at home, and If
this federal government attempted to take caro
of all matters It would so enormously Increaso
tho work to be done at Washington that it
would be absolutely impossible to do it with
any scrutiny.
What do you find here? I havo not scon the
statement for two or three years, but I remem
ber when wo had 10,000 bills introduced in one
congress.
Mr. Adamson. It has got to 30,000 now.
Mr. Bryan. Well, gentlemen, you see my
service is of a very ancient kind, and thero has
been a great growth since. Thirty thousand
bills. What congressman or senator attempts
to consider, to examine, or to understand any
large percentage of the 30,000 bills that are
introduced? Of course you say that tho com
mltttes sift these out.
Mr. Adamson. If you will permit me to an
swer that question, I will tell you that some
congressmen are so wise that they pretend to
study all of them and pretend pn tho floor of
tho house to know more about-'them than the
committees that unanimously reported 'them.
Mr. Bryan. I notice you say "pretend."
Mr. Adamson. Yes, sir.
Mr. Bryan. That would express an opinion.
According to your judgment it Is mere pre
tense? Mr. Adamson. I think generally so. There
is not one case in ton thousand that a man
knows more about them than the committee.
Mr. Bryan. I think you are right
Mr. .Sims. In the recent congress, there were
over 40,000 bills and joint resolutions intro
duced in both houses. (
Mr. Bryan. So you see how conservative I
am, gentlemen, In my statement.
When it comes to the committees you hare
a number of committees, and whenyou divide
40,000 bills and resolutions among the com
mittees of the senate and house ypu can see
what a number of them go to oner committee.
How many committees hava you in) the senate
or house? u , -
Mr. Esch. About 58. in the houst i.
Mr. Bryan. That would mean an average of
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