Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/426

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tomed to be imposed upon by words, that both affirmations may be admitted without verification, particularly if they are maintained by persons of great wealth who go about in their carriages begging alms of other people. . . . Established for a quite different purpose, the government has no competence in industrial matters, and can only act therein upon the advice of others. This advice is nearly always interested and unjust."

How entirely we concur in these remarks has already been indicated. If any one can show us that we are wrong in viewing this whole question in a moral light, and pronouncing for that theory of government which seems to us most favorable to public and private morality, we shall be prepared to consider it in other aspects, and listen with patience to the argumentations of those who would fain persuade us that restrictions on the activity and free initiative of individual citizens make for the strength and prosperity of the people as a whole, and that the national wealth is increased when goods are produced in the country at relatively high cost, which might be procured from abroad at relatively low cost.

The above remarks apply to tariff legislation, but individual liberty is abridged in many other ways that seem to us essentially wrong. That the members of a particular profession should have laws passed in their special interest, and should be empowered to decide who may and who may not enter into competition with them, is, we think, a violation at once of justice and of liberty. The worst of these things is, that a public motive is always alleged for what is in the main, if not exclusively, the outcome of private greed or jealousy. It would scarcely be too much to say that the most offensive forms of trade-unionism are found in connection with the so-called learned professions. Time was when it was supposed that the state had to look after the spiritual health of individuals; and for that purpose to prescribe their theological beliefs and religious observances. That belief has for the most part been exploded in the modern world, but its place has been taken by the notion that the state is responsible for the intellectual health of its members; and in lieu of the state church we have state schools. As regards the physical health of the community, the general method is to legalize one or two—possibly quite conflicting—schools of medicine, and to empower them to rule out, and if necessary to prosecute and punish, all others. Nobody, broadly speaking, seems to believe that, in the absence of all legislation of this character, people could in any adequate manner preserve their health or protect themselves against gross imposture. We believe it—believe it most heartily; and we believe that the science of medicine would advance far more rapidly, and that, on the whole, the public health would be far better, if every man were left perfectly free to employ any one he chose to attend him in sickness. At present every licensed practitioner feels himself authorized to call every unlicensed practitioner a quack. We should prefer a system under which, to a quickened public intelligence in questions of health, and disease, the quack should stand revealed by his quackery. How much of real quackery is now concealed by the license to practice it might distress a confiding public to know.

Our voice may be as that of one crying in the wilderness, but we cry with conviction when we call for more individual liberty, with its correlative individual responsibility. There is something wrong, something vicious, in the application of compulsion where freedom of choice is indicated by all the natural conditions of the case. Force should be reserved for cases in which force is required, where nothing else will serve the purpose, and where the purpose is vital to the life of the society. In other cases the application of force is wrong. The issue of "Man vs. the