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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/616

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

by the community of business with timidity which in some instances has amounted to trepidation." The State legislatures are hardly better. No great industry has any assurance that it will not find itself threatened with a violent and ruinous assault in some bill that a rapacious politician or misguided philanthropist has introduced. In New York the attacks of these modern brigands have become so frequent and so serious that many of the larger corporations have had to take refuge in adjacent States,[1] where they can enjoy greater, if not complete immunity. In a less degree the same is true of the minor legislatures—town, county, and municipal. Ordinances for pavements or sewers or in concession of valuable privileges keep the taxpayers in a state of constant anxiety. At the same time vast harm comes from the neglect of more important matters. The time of legislators is spent in intriguing and wrangling, and the millions of dollars that the sessions cost are as completely destroyed as though burned by invaders.

Though seldom or never recognized, politics has the same structural effect upon society as war. The militant forces of the one, like the militant forces of the other, tend to the destruction of social mobility and the creation of social rigidity, making further social evolution difficult or impossible. There is a repression of the spirit of individual initiative, which calls into existence just such institutions as may be required at any moment and permits them to pass away as soon as they have served their purpose. There is an encouragement of the class and parasitic spirit, which produces institutions based upon artificial distinctions, and, like those in China, so tenacious of life as to defy either reform or abolition. To provide place and pelf for followers, political leaders, aided by the misdirected labors of social reformers, favor constantly the extension of the sphere of government in every direction. In New York, for example, during the past eighteen years, thirty-six additions to State offices and commissions have been made. Simultaneously, the expenditures on their account have grown from less than four thousand dollars a year to nearly seven million. This feudal tendency toward the bureaucracy that exists in France and Germany, and in every country cursed with the social structure produced by war, is not only the same in the other States, but in the Federal Government as well. Its latest manifestation is the amazing extension of the powers of the interstate commerce commission demanded in the Cullom bill, and the proposed establishment of a department of commerce to promote trade with foreign countries. As in New York, there has been an enormous increase in Federal expenditures. In the agricultural department it


  1. ↑ It has been suggested by J. Novicow that, by a competition of this kind among nations, an improvement in legislation might be forced upon them.