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Philip Dru: Administrator

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<SPAN name="XXXIX"></SPAN> <h1 align="center" style="margin-top: 2em;font-variant: small-caps">Chapter XXXIX</h1> <h2 align="center" style="margin-top: 2em;font-variant: small-caps">A Negative Government</h2> <p>Upon assuming charge of the affairs of the Republic, the Administrator had largely retained the judiciary as it was then constituted, and he also made but few changes in the personnel of State and Federal officials, therefore there had, as yet, been no confusion in the public&#8217;s business. Everything seemed about as usual, further than there were no legislative bodies sitting, and the function of law making was confined to one individual, the Administrator himself.</p> <p>Before putting the proposed laws into force, he wished them thoroughly worked out and digested. In the meantime, however, he was constantly placing before his Cabinet and Commissioners suggestions looking to the betterment of conditions, and he directed that these suggestions should be molded into law. In order that the people might know what further measures he had in mind for their welfare, other than those already announced, he issued the following address:</p> <p>&#8220;It is my purpose,&#8221; said he, &#8220;not to give to you any radical or ill-digested laws. I wish rather to cull that which is best from the other nations of the earth, and let you have the benefit of their thought and experience. One of the most enlightened foreign students of our Government has rightly said that <i>&#8217;America is the most undemocratic of democratic countries.&#8217;</i> We have been living under a Government of negation, a Government with an executive with more power than any monarch, a Government having a Supreme Court, clothed with greater authority than any similar body on earth; therefore, we have lagged behind other nations in democracy. Our Government is, perhaps, less responsive to the will of the people than that of almost any of the civilized nations. Our Constitution and our laws served us well for the first hundred years of our existence, but under the conditions of to-day they are not only obsolete, but even grotesque. It is nearly impossible for the desires of our people to find expression into law. In the latter part of the last century many will remember that an income tax was wanted. After many vicissitudes, a measure embodying that idea was passed by both Houses of Congress and was signed by the Executive. But that did not give to us an income tax. The Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional, and we have been vainly struggling since to obtain relief.</p> <p>&#8220;If a well-defined majority of the people of England, of France, of Italy or of Germany had wanted such a law they could have gotten it with reasonable celerity. Our House of Representatives is supposed to be our popular law-making body, and yet its members do not convene until a year and one month from the time they are elected. No matter how pressing the issue upon which a majority of them are chosen, more than a year must elapse before they may begin their endeavors to carry out the will of the people. When a bill covering the question at issue is finally introduced in the House, it is referred to a committee, and that body may hold it at its pleasure.</p> <p>&#8220;If, in the end, the House should pass the bill, that probably becomes the end of it, for the Senate may kill it.</p> <p>&#8220;If the measure passes the Senate it is only after it has again been referred to a committee and then back to a conference committee of both Senate and House, and returned to each for final passage.</p> <p>&#8220;When all this is accomplished at a single session, it is unusually expeditious, for measures, no matter how important, are often carried over for another year.</p> <p>&#8220;If it should at last pass both House and Senate there is the Executive veto to be considered. If, however, the President signs the bill and it becomes a law, it is perhaps but short-lived, for the Supreme Court is ever present with its Damoclean sword.</p> <p>&#8220;These barriers and interminable delays have caused the demand for the initiative, referendum and recall. That clumsy weapon was devised in some States largely because the people were becoming restless and wanted a more responsive Government.</p> <p>&#8220;I am sure that I shall be able to meet your wishes in a much simpler way, and yet throw sufficient safeguards around the new system to keep it from proving hurtful, should an attack of political hysteria overtake you.</p> <p>&#8220;However, there has never been a time in our history when a majority of our people have not thought right on the public questions that came before them, and there is no reason to believe that they will think wrong now.</p> <p>&#8220;The interests want a Government hedged with restrictions, such as we have been living under, and it is easy to know why, with the example of the last administration fresh in the minds of all.</p> <p>&#8220;A very distinguished lawyer, once Ambassador to Great Britain, is reported as saying on Lincoln&#8217;s birthday: &#8217;The Constitution is an instrument designedly drawn by the founders of this Government providing safeguards to prevent any inroads by popular excitement or frenzy of the moment.&#8217; And later in the speech he says: &#8217;But I have faith in the sober judgment of the American people, that they will reject these radical changes, <i>etc</i>.&#8217;</p> <p>&#8220;If he had faith in the sober judgment of the American people, why not trust them to a measurable extent with the conduct of their own affairs?</p> <p>&#8220;The English people, for a century or more, have had such direction as I now propose that you shall have, and for more than half a century the French people have had like power. They have in no way abused it, and yet the English and French Electorate surely are not more intelligent, or have better self-control, or more sober judgment than the American citizenship.</p> <p>&#8220;Another thing to which I desire your attention called is the dangerous power possessed by the President in the past, but of which the new Constitution will rob him.</p> <p>&#8220;The framers of the old Constitution lived in an atmosphere of autocracy and they could not know, as we do now, the danger of placing in one man&#8217;s hands such enormous power, and have him so far from the reach of the people, that before they could dispossess him he might, if conditions were favorable, establish a dynasty.</p> <p>&#8220;It is astounding that we have allowed a century and a half go by without limiting both his term and his power.</p> <p>&#8220;In addition to giving you a new Constitution and laws that will meet existing needs, there are many other things to be done, some of which I shall briefly outline. I have arranged to have a survey made of the swamp lands throughout the United States. From reliable data which I have gathered, I am confident that an area as large as the State of Ohio can be reclaimed, and at a cost that will enable the Government to sell it to home-seekers for less than one-fourth what they would have to pay elsewhere for similar land.</p> <p>&#8220;Under my personal direction, I am having prepared an old-age pension law and also a laborers&#8217; insurance law, covering loss in cases of illness, incapacity and death.</p> <p>&#8220;I have a commission working on an efficient cooperative system of marketing the products of small farms and factories. The small producers throughout America are not getting a sufficient return for their products, largely because they lack the facilities for marketing them properly. By cooperation they will be placed upon an equal footing with the large producers and small investments that heretofore have given but a meager return will become profitable.</p> <p>&#8220;I am also planning to inaugurate cooperative loan societies in every part of the Union, and I have appointed a commissioner to instruct the people as to their formation and conduct and to explain their beneficent results.</p> <p>&#8220;In many parts of Europe such societies have reached very high proficiency, and have been the means of bringing prosperity to communities that before their establishment had gone into decay.</p> <p>&#8220;Many hundred millions of dollars have been loaned through these societies and, while only a fractional part of their members would be considered good for even the smallest amount at a bank, the losses to the societies on loans to their members have been almost negligible; less indeed than regular bankers could show on loans to their clients. And yet it enables those that are almost totally without capital to make a fair living for themselves and families.</p> <p>&#8220;It is my purpose to establish bureaus through the congested portions of the United States where men and women in search of employment can register and be supplied with information as to where and what kind of work is obtainable. And if no work is to be had, I shall arrange that every indigent person that is honest and industrious <i>shall be given employment by the Federal, State, County or Municipal Government as the case may be.</i> Furthermore, it shall in the future be unlawful for any employer of labor to require more than eight hours work a day, and then only for six days a week. Conditions as are now found in the great manufacturing centers where employ&#233;s are worked twelve hours a day, seven days in the week, and receive wages inadequate for even an eight hour day shall be no longer possible.</p> <p>&#8220;If an attempt is made to reduce wages because of shorter hours or for any other cause, the employ&#233; shall have the right to go before a magistrate and demand that the amount of wage be adjusted there, either by the magistrate himself or by a jury if demanded by either party.</p> <p>&#8220;Where there are a large number of employ&#233;s affected, they can act through their unions or societies, if needs be, and each party at issue may select an arbitrator and the two so chosen may agree upon a third, or they may use the courts and juries, as may be preferred.</p> <p>&#8220;This law shall be applicable to women as well as to men, and to every kind of labor. I desire to make it clear that the policy of this Government is that every man or woman who desires work shall have it, even if the Government has to give it, and I wish it also understood that an adequate wage must be paid for labor.</p> <p>&#8220;Labor is no longer to be classed as an inert commodity to be bought and sold by the law of supply and demand, but the <i>human equation shall hereafter be the commanding force in all agreements between man and capital</i>.</p> <p>&#8220;There is another matter to which I shall give my earnest attention and that is the reformation of the study and practice of medicine. It is well known that we are far behind England, Germany and France in the protection of our people from incompetent physicians and quackery. There is no more competent, no more intelligent or advanced men in the world than our American physicians and surgeons of the first class.</p> <p>&#8220;But the incompetent men measurably drag down the high standing of the profession. A large part of our medical schools and colleges are entirely unfit for the purposes intended, and each year they grant diplomas to hundreds of ignorant young men and women and license them to prey upon a more or less helpless people.</p> <p>&#8220;The number of physicians per inhabitant is already ridiculously large, many times more than is needful, or than other countries where the average of the professions ranks higher, deem necessary.</p> <p>&#8220;I feel sure that the death list in the United States from the mistakes of these incompetents is simply appalling.</p> <p>&#8220;I shall create a board of five eminent men, two of whom shall be physicians, one shall be a surgeon, one a scientist and the other shall be a great educator, and to this board I shall give the task of formulating a plan by which the spurious medical colleges and medical men can be eradicated from our midst.</p> <p>&#8220;I shall call the board&#8217;s attention to the fact that it is of as much importance to have men of fine natural ability as it is to give them good training, and, if it is practicable, I shall ask them to require some sort of adequate mental examination that will measurably determine this.</p> <p>&#8220;I have a profound admiration for the courage, the nobility and philanthropy of the profession as a whole, and I do not want its honor tarnished by those who are mercenary and unworthy.</p> <p>&#8220;In conclusion I want to announce that pensions will be given to those who fought on either side in the late war without distinction or reservation. However, it is henceforth to be the policy of this Government, so far as I may be able to shape it, that only those in actual need of financial aid shall receive pensions and to them it shall be given, whether they have or have not been disabled in consequence of their services to the nation. But to offer financial aid to the rich and well to do, is to offer an insult, for it questions their patriotism. Although the first civil war was ended over sixty years ago, yet that pension roll still draws heavily upon the revenue of the Nation. Its history has been a rank injustice to the noble armies of Grant and his lieutenants, the glory of whose achievements is now the common heritage of a United Country.&#8221;</p>
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