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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/669

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A STATE OFFICIAL ON EXCESSIVE TAXATION.

the superintendent if he undertakes to expend money outside of the locality, and, through friction and disturbance, the work of the institution is more or less demoralized." He charges that "the only aim" of some institutions "seems to be the expenditure of their entire appropriation, irrespective of the number of inmates provided for or the results obtained." Putting the same charge in another way, he says that "the cost of an institution is more frequently based upon the amount of the appropriation granted by the Legislature than upon its real or apparent necessities." When it is remembered that the managers of the institutions against whom these astonishing charges are brought are picked people, representing much more than the average character and ability, the conclusion is not unnatural that ward heelers and caucus packers have no monopoly of the rotten ethics of politics.

If we look a little further into the management of the institutions, all the familiar footprints of the unscrupulous politician become visible. Money appropriated for specific purposes is diverted from them. Over fifty-five per cent of the amount expended in 1898 under special appropriations was used for the benefit of two institutions, leaving less than forty-five per cent for the remaining fourteen. Plans for new buildings or the improvement of old are so changed as to require an expenditure considerably in excess of the money appropriated for the purpose. Not infrequently the excess ranges from twenty-five to fifty per cent, and thus the way is paved for further appeals to the Legislature to meet the dishonest deficits. A more reprehensible use of public money is appropriations for new buildings and improvements of old ones belonging to private institutions. As examples, Mr. Roberts cites the expenditure of $77,473 upon the private property of the Malone Institute for Deaf-Mutes, and $457,556 upon that of the Randall's Island Reformatory. "In my judgment," he says, expressing an opinion that every fair-minded person will approve, "this is a mistaken public policy. If these institutions are to be steady recipients of State aid for permanent improvements, the title of the property should be transferred to the State." Otherwise any philanthropist might found a charitable institution to provide himself with congenial employment, and, availing himself of the courtesy of the State to thrust his hands into the pockets of his neighbors, make additions to it and keep it in repair.

But these are by no means the only ways that money picked from the pockets of taxpayers is poured into the bottomless pit of State philanthropy. One of the most common and most expensive is the unjustifiable increase of salaries. In 1894 and 1895, when the country was still in the throes of the great panic of 1893 and