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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/28

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

year. While our population has only increased five times since then, and our area doubled in extent, the Government spends twenty-five times as much. Extravagance has permeated every department of Government. Perhaps $150,000,000 is wasted in this way every year. Aside from this, however, we have to notice a few of the ridiculous schemes which have been advanced to dispose of the surplus. The worst is probably the proposal to use it to bring up the price of silver, advanced in a congressional speech against the Mills bill.[1] This was devotion to "labor" with a vengeance. Then it is proposed to use it in educating the South, in defiance of the Constitution and of every healthful dictate of expediency. Another proposition, likewise well supported in Congress, has been to dig the Hennepin Canal, which can not be soberly regarded as anything more than a local enterprise of so poor a commercial character that no private company would think of going into it. And in the improvement of harbors, the supporters of protection have encouraged the waste of enough money seriously to diminish the surplus.[2] Governor Foraker proposes that the Government buy land and put up public buildings in every town of three thousand inhabitants and over. Then there are innumerable people who want bounties and subsidies for their enterprises. Not to speak of the extravagance and heedlessness of our present pension legislation, we are dangerously near the institution of civil pensions. Lastly, there are schemes to spend any imaginable surplus in fortifications against imaginary enemies and on a navy, which, amounting to nothing with $400,000,000 put upon it since the war, might possibly amount to something if twice that amount were expended. The surplus has also attracted the attention of one of the Labor parties, which thinks the Government ought to "loan" it to "the people." Other protection countries have had the same experience. Canada has been given over to profligate government ever since she adopted a protection policy. Where the Government goes on the theory that the more money taken from the people the better for everybody, it will not be very careful of its expenditures.

One further serious effect to be apprehended, if the protection idea obtains sway, must be mentioned. This is a demand for State and local protection. No logic that makes it advantageous for Kansas to protect herself against England can long resist the conclusion that it would also be well to protect her against Pennsylvania. This idea would the more readily spread because it is obvious that the tariff is a tax on the Western States for the benefit of the Eastern, it being as certain as anything can well be that

  1. By Congressman Cheadle.
  2. One harbor within my knowledge has had more spent upon it by the Government than the entire town is worth.