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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/196

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

uals with a view to social development. New occasions have taught new duties. When the idea of government in the role of Lady Bountiful is a thing of the past the practises that grew out of it and were more or less a part of it will have to go also. Doubtless there will always be peculation and rascality in the management of the people's affairs, but graft as an institution will cease to be overlooked and become disreputable.

In contrast with earlier practise the granting of franchises and other "special privileges" is being hedged about with limitations and restrictions unknown to our fathers. The new spirit of thrift in the body politic prevents the fast and loose dealing with valuable rights common in the flush days of exploitation. The worth of the privileges is better known now and it is actually greater. The need of conserving all the sources of public income is felt more and more so that there is a demand for quid pro quo when a grant is sought. The work of these companies in building up transportation, lighting and other general conveniences to their present stage has made communities more independent of them and the increase in demand for investments has strengthened the public position. More abundant capital needs opportunities for earning interest, while the body of the citizens have reaped all they can expect from the collateral increase in the value of their property that resulted from the pioneering done by the companies. They are ceasing to give away franchises because they do not need to do so any longer in order to secure the improvements and because the members of the community do not see a chance to participate in the resulting gains. The old methods are becoming immoral.

From what has been written it is perhaps apparent that the current agitation is not a reform movement that is leading to a departure from the error of our ways, but a conversion that is changing the whole of our attitude toward many public questions. The spread of the population, the division and occupation of the territory, the development of the country in transportation and manufactures have been part of the eager struggle for the treasures of a new continent in which grants of land, extensions of public credit, protective tariffs, franchises and tacit permission to graft have been prominent features. The ends sought have been accomplished and the means that were formerly reputable because commonly shared are now condemned. They can no longer be general in their effect either directly or indirectly. When they are confined to a few they cease to be benefits and become favors; and favors are odious in a democracy. The old policies are passing away because the old economic basis upon which they rested and from which they arose has passed away. The enemies of the old order have come in like a flood, not because of a particularly high moral tidal wave but because the shore has subsided. What is going under water now is going to stay