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PERSONAL SELFISHNESS

AND

INDIFFER

BY DR. JOHN B. ROBERTS, OF PHILADELPHIA, IN “THE COMMONS," OCTOBER, 1905.

What is needed now is recognition of the fact that our bad government is due to the .men within the circle of our own friends and associates. The ward leaders, the division workers and the poverty-stricken voters of the slums are merely the tools with which our acquaintances rob us of our liberties and unnecessarily increase our taxes."

It is claimed by many that corruption It is neither the love of party nor the in a city is due to the stolid allegiance intellectual deficiency of the vote-seller of partisan voters to national party, and that permits the election frauds of the that separation of municipal from state present day. These characteristics are and national issues is the panacea.

That not sufficient to drive the average citizen this is fallacious is evident from the fact to spontaneous activity. that state and national governments are as honeycombed with corruption as city councils. The unprejudiced observer will find the same deals, the same lob The basic causes of corrupt politics are bies, the same bribery, the same corrup personal selfishness and indifference to tion in Congress, in legislatures, and in the rights of others. What cares the town councils.

ENCE.

manufacturer for the economic principles Some superficial thinkers consider the of political parties, if he can succeed in impecunious and ignorant voter, who is having a high tariff or a state license bought by campaign funds, the factor exclude competition? What matters it which is to be eliminated to insure honest to the supplier of coal or petroleum how elections. They believe that cessation soon a rival corporation becomes bankof political assessment of office holders, rupt, if he can force a secret rebate from prevention of sale of votes, and disor the railroad, which carries the product ganization of bands of paid repeaters of both ? Does anybody believe that would work a political millennium. the ignorant voter, who sells his vote, is

Those who hold this view see only the an unsolicited salesman? A much higher puppets and fail to recognize the intel intelligence is needed to organize the lectual and educational strength which systematic buying and selling of votes is required to effectively move them. which elects judges, legislators and offiSuccessful political corruption requires cers, and enacts laws. It demands for acumen, strategy, mental equipment, its success the same type of mind as is and courage of the highest type. These found in the captains of industry and qualities are not found in the ignorant the presidents of great corporations. classes, but are the characteristics of The leaders of the corrupt political sysmen of affairs.

tem of a city and the heads of the indus

trial and corporate enterprises, which are the fact that our bad government is due its pride, are often the same individuals. to men within the circle of our own Hence it is so difficult to root out political friends and associates. The ward leadvices. The men who are seen on the sur- ers, the division workers and the poverty. face are not the real criminals. The lat- stricken voters of the slums are merely ter are respected merchants, trusted the tools with which our acquaintances bankers, successful manufacturers, en- rob us of our liberties and unnecessarily vied doctors, well-known lawyers; and increase our taxes. Why try to convict even men of conspicuous religious habits, of petty criminalities these unimportant who hypocritically pose as, and pass for persons? If they should perchance be honorable citizens.

convicted, they are willing to take the The present interest taken in munici- penalty of the law and receive reward pal affairs by patriotic citizens makes it from our friends for vicarious suffering. necessary to consider this phase of the question. Much energy will be wasted

JAIL, NOT FINES, NEEDED. and worthy enthusiasm will be cooled, It is not great inconvenience to such if the attempts to reform Philadelphia, convicted ones to pay a fine, contributed for instance, are restricted to the elimi- by our financial and business colleagues nation of partisanship, the conviction for protection from personal disgrace. of sellers of votes at twenty-five cents Even should they suffer imprisonment, each, and the defeat of condidates of they need not despair; for are they not the machine for city offices.

taken care of with the contributions of

powerful corporations, and as soon as THE PROSECUTION OF BRIBERS.

their enforced vacation at government The cure of city corruption would be

expense is ended are they not given a almost instantaneous if reform commit

good job at a fair wage by your friends tees, citizens' unions and municipal and mine? leagues would secure evidence of bribery,

It is well enough to work for the imbring to trial and secure conviction of

provement of city charters, the systemthe president and directors of a single atizing of municipal accounts, personal large railroad or electric lighting com

registration of voters, a true Australian pany; or the officers of a bank or trust

ballot, the defeat of unworthy candidates company that gives illegal interest to

and the prevention of ballot frauds. officials.

These aims are worthy, but we must Such a course of action will necessarily

shoot at a higher mark. I hope to live require most astute detective service,

to see a railroad president or two, three the employment of legal counsel of the

or four directors of public service corhighest and most incorruptible charac

porations, and a couple of lawyers or ter, and the expenditure of large sums

bank presidents landed in jail, notwithof money. It must be admitted at the

standing the frantic efforts of highstart that men who will bribe councils,

priced lawyers and physicians to save legislatures, congressmen and courts

them by legal technicalities and certifiwill not hesitate to bribe the detectives

cates of mental aberration. and lawyers employed by any reform

GETTING AT THE REAL CULPRITS. organization which attempts to put in jail the leaders of society, the pillars of Criticism has heretofore been aimed at the church, the promoters of charity, the wrong persons.

It has been blaming and the skillful of the professions. the bribe-takers instead of the bribe

The influence and means of the politi- givers, the “hush-money" handlers incal criminals of whom I speak are almost stead of the “hush-money” raisers; the boundless; but they can be dragged political servants of the corporations down from their apparently secure po- instead of the directors of banks, hospisition if courage, intelligence and integ- tals, railroads and public utility corporarity are reinforced by sufficient funds. tions who employ them. The first state

What is needed now is recognition of that enacts a law to punish the bribegiver and to allow the bribe-taker who gives effective evidence to go free, will be the first commonwealth to have good city governments.

physicians may accept, secret commissions for "steering” patients to the operating-room, and lawyers may conduct suits for personal injury for a percentage of the amount obtained.

"SUCCESS

ITS ROTTEN STREAK.

ETHICS AND STATUTE LAW.

The difficulty in obtaining honest political conduct is the want of self-respect Many men seem to no longer rememand honesty in the bulk of citizens. A ber that ethics and morals are older than notable absence of independence in statute law, and that even boys have thought and action seems to be char- been punished for an unsatisfactory anacteristic of our present civilization. swer to the question, “Where did you Men subordinate fundamental, ethical

get it?"

It is at least possible that a principles to successful accomplishment. lawyer who has packed one jury to Any action whose illegality or immorality acquit a political offender may pack an

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ABOVE THE DAM AT CORALVILLE, IOWA. Courtesy Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Interurban Railway.

can be successfully concealed is safe and therefore worthy of adoption.

The motto upon which we fix our eyes is :—“Nothing succeeds like success.” Business men argue that acts are not to be condemned unless they are illegal under federal or state law; ministers contend that money may be used to convert the pagan without consideration as to the manner in which it was obtained by the donor; memorial churches may be built with ill-gotten gains; consulting surgeons may give, and family

other to give a big verdict against a railroad company and thus increase his 40 per cent contingent fee. It is credible that a doctor might prefer to direct his patients to an unskilled operator, who paid 30 per cent, than to one who considered such secret commissions dishonorable. “Life's" method of telling which of two rich men had the most money by observing with whom the Bishop first shook hands is evidently the result of competent observation.

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THE REAL CAUSE IS CORPORATE BRIBERY.

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The real cause of political corruption, then, is corporate bribery. This is made possible by men's love of gain and power, and their desire to be business or social magnates. The standard of life seems to be not worth, but success and notoriety. The wish to imitate those with more means or more influence stimulates the lust for money.

The simple life has no attractions, when our neighbors lead the high life. It takes money to do things that count in the vulgar estimate, and gold must therefore be obtained at any sacrifice of ptinciple. The man who puts a bill through the city council or the state legislature is the man who gets results; and he is therefore successively agent, manager, secretary, director, vicepresident and president of his corporation.

The wife whose husband is successful in the financial sense becomes a local magnate in many feminine circles. His standard of business and professional ethics need not concern her any more than it does him. He is a captain of industry, of finance or of transportation. She and her daughters in ball costume

have their photographs reproduced in the newspapers for the accommodation of any vulgar reader. What matters it if the husband's name is a by-word for chicanery; and the portrait of his daughter adorns the wall of a student's room or of a saloon, hanging between that of the popular dancer and the last champion of the prize-ring?

It is this indifference to the finer sensibilities and this love of money with its coincident vulgar display that are back of the struggle for success. Worldly success is often the sole key to financial and social advancement. Hence corporate success must be obtained, even by bribery. Bribes by corporations make political rottenness. Political rottenness makes for most of us taxes high, streets unclean, water unfit to drink, disease rife, death common, and condemnation in the next world fairly certain.

Political liberty must therefore be obtained by attacking bribery and graft in its high seats. We must bring down the big game; and at the same time inculcate in ourselves a respect for honesty and a disregard for the mere outward symbols of wealth and power.

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[Addresses delivered at First Annual Meeting of the National Child Labor Committee, New York City, February 14-16, 1905, and reprinted from the Proceedings as published by the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Philadelphia, in The Annals of the Academy, Vol. XXV.. No. 3, May, 1905.]

METHODS OF ENFORCEMENT IN THE WESTERN STATES.

HON. BEN B. LINDSEY, JUDGE OF JUVENILE COURT, DENVER, COLORADO.

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for enlisting the services of the child offer greater temptations than those of the smelter and the mine.

If we may credit the frightful conditions in the coal mines of Pennsylvania as to child labor, I am sure we have no such sins as theirs to answer for. And while we do not pretend superiority above our brothers of the East and South in resisting encroachments upon the childhood of the nation, we may without spirit of boasting feel proud of our laws for the protection of children. Both as to laws and the evils to be remedied by these laws the

but Kansas is waking up, and I promise you that if Kansas concedes to the women of that state the right of suffrage as it has existed among the women of the State of Colorado, it will be impossible for it to lag behind the procession.

Under the age of sixteen years no child may be employed in any mine or other dangerous occupation in the State of Colorado, and under the age of fourteen years no child may be employed in any mine in the States of Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

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BEND AT HIGHLAND PARK, IOWA. Courtesy Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Interurban Railway.

great West is far in advance of the South, compares favorably with the states of the East and Middle West, and Colorado claims the proud distinction of being twin sister to Illinois in acknowledging superiority to no state in advanced child labor laws as well as other laws for the protection of her children. We look upon Kansas as the most benighted of the Western states, and as being most backward in keeping step in the march of progress, led by her western neighbor, the State of Colorado,

Again, the Western states have been blessed with liberal school funds, largely obtained by the reservation for that purpose of millions of their acres, which, with less knotty and difficult problems than our less fortunate sisters of tbe South, have made compulsory education in the West a simple problem to embody in effective laws rigidly enforced. The great West, therefore, in comparing its more fortunate condition with that of the South, may do so with satisfaction, but without exultation. On the contrary,

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