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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/612

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and twenty million dollars, or six per cent, are devoted to the legitimate functions of government—namely, the maintenance of police and courts—and one hundred and forty million dollars to the support of the military establishment.[1] All the rest is expenditure that should no more be intrusted to the Government—that is, subject to the application of political instead of business methods—than the expenditure of a household, or a farm, or a cotton mill, or an iron foundry. Even if it were a legitimate expenditure of the Government, it could not be collected nor expended without injustice. Tax laws have never been and never will be framed that will not permit some one to escape his share of the burdens of the community; and the heavier those burdens are, as they are constantly becoming to an alarming degree, the more desperate will be the effort to shirk them—the more lightly will they rest upon the dishonest and unworthy, and the more heavily upon the honest and worthy. Moreover, it has never been possible, and it never will be possible, to expend money by political methods without either waste or fraud, and most usually without both.

Such a volume of legislation and taxation permits of the easy detection of the vital difference between the theory and practice of politics. According to the text-books and professors, politics is the science of government. In countries like the United States, where popular institutions prevail, the purpose of its study is the discovery and the application of the methods that shall enable all citizens, rich and poor, to share alike in the inestimable privilege of saying what laws they shall have, and bear in proportion to their means the burdens it entails. Such a privilege is supposed to confer innumerable benefits. Every one is assured of scrupulous justice. He is made to feel profound gratitude for his happy deliverance from the odious tyranny and discrimination of a monarchy or an aristocracy. The participation of everybody in the important and beneficent work of government possesses a rare educational value. It leads the ignorant and indifferent to take a deep interest in public questions, and to attempt, as their strength and ability allow, the promotion of the welfare of their beloved country. Thus they escape the deplorable fate of burial in the sordid and selfish pursuit of their own affairs, and the consequent dwarfing of their minds and emotions. Rising to broader views of life and duty, they become patriots, statesmen, and philanthropists.

Enchanting as this picture is, one that can be found in the speeches of every demagogue, male and female, as well as in the works of every political philosopher of the orthodox faith, it has no


  1. These figures represent the expenditures before the war with Spain. That deplorable event will increase them considerably.