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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/754

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

service is rapidly growing to the same proportions. Many of those "retired" officers have been placed on the list by the arbitrary favoritism of Congress, and some of them never held the rank in the army which they hold on the retired list. In fact, one of the chief abuses of political power is the reckless and irresponsible usurpation by which members of Congress confederate and combine to place their friends on the retired list, and their constituents on the pension-roll.

One of the amiabilities of the practice is its freedom from partisan bigotry. It is notorious that on a recent occasion the widow of an eminent Republican politician was rewarded with a pension of two thousand dollars a year, on condition that the widow of an eminent Democratic politician should be included in the bill and rewarded with a pension of the same amount. This having been done, the Republicans voted for the Democratic pension and the Democrats for the Republican pension. In this way the benevolence was lifted up out of the impure air of partisan politics into the ethereal atmosphere of good feeling and high life.

In one of Irwin Russell's negro hymns, the jingle sounds like this:

"Close up—saints in de center;
Fall in—sinnahs on de flanks;
An' all 'll get a pension an' a honorable mention
What stand up stiddy in de ranks."

We extend the principle far beyond those boundaries and give pensions to claimants, whether they stood up steady in the ranks or not. If the pension list could be analyzed it would be found that, after taking out the wounded men, fifty per cent of the others did not stand up steady in the ranks nor do any valuable service. It would be found that their diseases are pension pretexts only, and, where they really exist, that they were not contracted in the army.

In addition to pensions for all, we have supplemented claims for "equalization of bounties," and schemes of that kind. A Congressman from Iowa introduced a bill to give the soldiers the difference between the value of the greenbacks in which they were paid and gold at the time of payment. The statesman who introduced this bill is not at all troubled about where the money is to come from to effect its purpose. He is a descendant of Marryat's old sea-captain, who bequeathed princely sums to his friends, together with gold snuff-boxes and diamond-hilted swords which had been presented to him by various emperors and kings. As he did not own a dollar in the world, and the swords and snuff-boxes had no existence, the good-natured impostor showed his liberality without subjecting his will to the dangers of a contest. The sum of money necessary to pay that difference would be the