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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/622

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

question, the more prone are the demagogues to mouth it. To such questions as bankruptcy, railroad pooling, and currency reform will they give their time and wisdom only when business interests have almost risen in insurrection and compelled attention to them.

The same policy of hypocrisy, deception, favoritism, and proscription is a dominant trait of the administration of the Government. The object almost invariably in mind is the welfare or injury of some party, or faction, or politician. The interests of the public are the last thing thought of, if thought of at all. Take dismissals and appointments. They may, as has been known to occur even in the United States, be made to better the public service. Even then a careful study of motive will disclose the characteristic purpose of the politician. In a choice between two men of equal ability, or rather of equal inability, which is more commonly the case, preference is given to the one with the stronger "pull." Often, as has been shown within the past year or two, convicted rascals are appointed at the behest of Congressmen and in defiance of the wishes of the business community, and, in spite of the civil-service laws, officials are dismissed because of their politics alone. In the letting of contracts it is not difficult to detect the observance of the same judicious rule. The virtuous formality of letting to the lowest bidder may be gone through with, and the public may be greatly pleased with this exhibition of official deference to its interests. Yet an examination of the work done under the supervision of complaisant inspectors, who may be blinded in various ways to the defects of that of a political friend, or made supernaturally alert to the defects of that of a political enemy, will reveal a trail that does not belong to scrupulous integrity. That is why dry docks, like that in Brooklyn, why harbor works, like those in Charleston, turn out defective; why the Government has to pay more for the transportation of the mails than a private corporation; why the cost of the improvement of the Erie Canal was concealed until nearly all the money voted for the folly had been expended; why of the money expended one million dollars was wasted, if not stolen; why so much of the State Capitol at Albany has been built over again; why the City Hall in Philadelphia has been an interminable job; why the supplies of prisons, asylums, and other public institutions are constantly proving to be inferior to those paid for—why, in a word, everything done by political methods is vitiated by the ethics of war. In the enforcement of laws very little justice or honesty can be found. As a rule, they bear much more harshly on the poor and weak, that is, those with small political influence, than on the rich and strong, that is, those with much political influence. Take the enforcement of liquor laws, health laws, factory laws, and compulsory school laws. If a man with political influence wishes