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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/664

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wiped out the narrow margin that separates independence from dependence—self-support and self-respect from destitution and pauperism. The hatred of the rich, the denunciation of capital, the contempt for the Church, the bloody insurrections of labor, the general feeling of rancor, accompanied by an increase of the tyranny of trades unions and government regulations, are not the inevitable manifestations of envy, ignorance, and criminal instincts; they are the inevitable fruits of the perpetual aggressions in a thousand forms that spring from politics and war. But instead of acting upon this natural interpretation of the signs of the times and seeking to solve the social problem in the only way that it can be solved, the "new" reformers tormenting the world are engaged in the invention of schemes that add to the public burdens and hasten the nation's decay.

The reckless expenditure of public money in the United States has not been confined to any particular political division nor to any particular geographical section. The national, State, and municipal governments have seemed to vie with one another in the plunder of the taxpayer. From the North, the South, the East, and the West have come the same complaints of excessive burdens.[1] But figures are needed to give these statements the vividness of reality. Beginning with national expenditures, Mr. Roberts says that during the decade from 1820 to 1830 they were $1.07 per capita; from 1851 to 1861, they were $2.06; and for the year 1894, $6.08. "In a word," he adds, "the per capita expense of the national Government in 1894 was nearly six times as great as it was in 1820, and nearly three times as great as it was in the decade before our great civil war." The per capita expenditures of the State of New York in 1830 were $1.30, thirty years later

  1. From the mass of proofs of this statement in my possession I will select only one. In a call for a convention at Portland, Me., on the 10th of June last, of all persons "interested in the revision of the present system of State taxation and a more economical management of the State affairs," it is stated that "the expenses of the State have increased fifty per cent in ten years, while the wealth and population of the State have steadily declined." The object of the convention was "to protest against the course of extravagance that is rapidly bringing reproach upon the government of the State and reducing the farmers and taxpayers to automatons to grind out revenue to be absorbed by a rapacious and ever-multiplying horde of office-holders, who devour the people's substance as fast as they produce it." After showing how "once prosperous farming towns and townships have been reduced to but little better than a howling wilderness, the call says in conclusion:" These once prosperous farming communities were redeemed from the native wilderness by men who were no more temperate, industrious, or economical than the farmers of to-day, and the prices they received for their products were as low as, and in some instances lower than, to-day, but the fruits of their honest toil were not drawn from them as fast as acquired by national, State, county, and, in many instances, by municipal extravagance, as it is to-day."The plundered peasantry of Spain, Italy, or Russia, army ridden as they are, could not have made a more just complaint.