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Philip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 online

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bunch?'

"'Not on your immortality,' answered the man. 'I'm only the fellow who
set fire to an orphan asylum, and murdered a blind man for his pennies.'

"Some years ago when I first read that story, I thought it was humor,
now I know it to be pathos. Nothing, Gloria, will give me greater
pleasure than to try to think out a solution to this problem, and
undertake its application."

Gloria then gave more fully the conditions governing female labor. The
unsanitary surroundings, the long hours and the inadequate wage, the
statistics of refuge societies showed, drove an appalling number of
women and girls to the streets. - No matter how hard they worked they
could not earn sufficient to clothe and feed themselves properly. After
a deadly day's work, many of them found stimulants of various kinds the
cheapest means of bringing comfort to their weary bodies and hope-lost
souls, and then the next step was the beginning of the end.

By now they had come to Newport News and the launching of the battleship
was made as Gloria christened her _Columbia._ After the ceremonies
were over it became necessary at once to return to Washington, for at
noon of the next day there was to be dedicated the Colossal Arch of
Peace. Ten years before, the Government had undertaken this work and had
slowly executed it, carrying out the joint conception of the foremost
architect in America and the greatest sculptor in the world. Strangely
enough, the architect was a son of New England, and the Sculptor was
from and of the South.

Upon one face of the arch were three heroic figures. Lee on the one
side, Grant on the other, with Fame in the center, holding out a laurel
wreath with either hand to both Grant and Lee. Among the figures
clustered around and below that of Grant, were those of Sherman,
Sheridan, Thomas and Hancock, and among those around and below that of
Lee, were Stonewall Jackson, the two Johnstons, Forrest, Pickett and
Beauregard. Upon the other face of the arch there was in the center a
heroic figure of Lincoln and gathered around him on either side were
those Statesmen of the North and South who took part in that titanic
civil conflict that came so near to dividing our Republic.

Below Lincoln's figure was written: "With malice towards none, with
charity for all." Below Grant, was his dying injunction to his fellow
countrymen: "Let us have peace." But the silent and courtly Lee left no
message that would fit his gigantic mold.



CHAPTER XLI

THE NEW NATIONAL CONSTITUTION


Besides the laws and reforms already enumerated, the following is in
brief the plan for the General Government that Philip Dru outlined and
carried through as Administrator of the Republic, and which, in effect,
was made a part of the new constitution.

I.

1. Every adult citizen of the United States, male or female, shall have
the right to vote, and no state, county or municipality shall pass a law
or laws infringing upon this right.

2. Any alien, male or female, who can read, write and speak English, and
who has resided in the United States for ten years, may take out
naturalization papers and become a citizen. [Footnote: The former
qualification was five years' residence in the United States and
in many States there were no restrictions placed upon education, nor
was an understanding of the English language necessary.]

3. No one shall be eligible for election as Executive, President,
Senator, Representative or Judge of any court under the age of twenty-five
years, and who is not a citizen of the United States. [Footnote: Dru saw
no good reason for limiting the time when an exceptionally endowed man
could begin to serve the public.]

4. No one shall be eligible for any other office, National or State, who
is at the time, or who has been within a period of five years preceding,
a member of any Senate or Court. [Footnote: The Senate under Dru's plan of
Government becomes a quasi-judicial body, and it was his purpose to
prevent any member of it or of the regular judiciary from making decisions
with a view of furthering their political fortunes. Dru believed that it
would be of enormous advantage to the Nation if Judges and Senators were
placed in a position where their motives could not be questioned and where
their only incentive was the general welfare.]

II.

1. The several states shall be divided into districts of three hundred
thousand inhabitants each, and each district so divided shall have one
representative, and in order to give the widest latitude as to choice,
there shall be no restrictions as to residence. [Footnote: Why deprive
the Republic of the services of a useful man because his particular
district has more good congressional timber than can be used and another
district has none? Or again, why relegate to private life a man of
National importance merely because his residence happens to be in a
district not entirely in harmony with his views?]

2. The members of the House of Representatives shall be elected on the
first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and shall serve for a
term of six years, subject to a recall at the end of each two years by a
signed petition embracing one-third of the electorate of the district
from which they were chosen. [Footnote: The recall is here used for the
reason that the term has been extended to six years, though the electorate
retains the privilege of dismissing an undesirable member at the end of
every two years.]

3. The House shall convene on the first Tuesday after the first Monday
in January and shall never have more than five hundred members.
[Footnote: The purpose here was to convene the House within two months
instead of thirteen months after its election, and to limit its size in
order to promote efficiency.]

4. The House of Representatives shall elect a Speaker whose term of
office may be continuous at the pleasure of the majority. He shall
preside over the House, but otherwise his functions shall be purely
formal.

5. The House shall also choose an Executive, whose duties it shall be,
under the direction of the House, to administer the Government. He may
or may not be at the time of his election a member of the House, but he
becomes an ex-officio member by virtue thereof.

6.(a) The Executive shall have authority to select his Cabinet Officers
from members of the House or elsewhere, other than from the Courts or
Senates, and such Cabinet Officers shall by reason thereof, be ex-officio
members of the House.

(b) Such officials are to hold their positions at the pleasure of the
Executive and the Executive is to hold his at the pleasure of the
majority of the House.

(c) In an address to the House, the Executive shall, within a reasonable
time after his selection, outline his policy of Government, both
domestic and foreign.

(d) He and his Cabinet may frame bills covering the suggestions made in
his address, or any subsequent address that he may think proper to make,
and introduce and defend them in the House. Measures introduced by the
Executive or members of his Cabinet are not to be referred to
committees, but are to be considered by the House as a whole, and their
consideration shall have preference over measures introduced by other
members.

7. All legislation shall originate in the House.

III.

1. The Senate shall consist of one member from each State, and shall be
elected for life, by direct vote of the people, and shall be subject to
recall by a majority vote of the electors of his State at the end of any
five-year period of his term. [Footnote: The reason for using the recall
here is that the term is lengthened to life and it seemed best to give
the people a right to pass upon their Senators at stated periods.]

2. (a) Every measure passed by the House, other than those relating
_solely_ to the raising of revenue for the current needs of the
Government and the expenditure thereof, shall go to the Senate for
approval.

(b) The Senate may approve a measure by a majority vote and it then
becomes a law, or they may make such suggestions regarding the amendment
as may seem to them pertinent, and return it to the House to accept or
reject as they may see fit.

(c) The Senate may reject a measure by a majority vote. If the Senate
reject a measure, the House shall have the right to dissolve and go
before the people for their decision.

(d) If the country approves the measure by returning a House favorable
to it, then, upon its passage by the House _in the same form as when
rejected by the Senate,_ it shall become a law.

3. (a) A Senator may be impeached by a majority vote of the Supreme
Court, upon an action approved by the House and brought by the
Executive or any member of his Cabinet.

(b) A Senator must retire at the age of seventy years, and he shall be
suitably pensioned.

IV.

1. The President shall be chosen by a majority vote of all the electors.
His term shall be for ten years and he shall be ineligible for
re-election, but after retirement he shall receive a pension.

2. His duties shall be almost entirely formal and ceremonial.

3. In the event of a hiatus in the Government from any source
whatsoever, it shall be his duty immediately to call an election, and
in the meantime act as Executive until the regularly elected
authorities can again assume charge of the Government.



CHAPTER XLII

NEW STATE CONSTITUTIONS


I.

To the States, Administrator Dru gave governments in all essentials like
that of the nation. In brief the State instruments held the following
provisions:

1. The House of Representatives shall consist of one member for every
fifty thousand inhabitants, and never shall exceed a membership of two
hundred in any State.

2. Representatives shall be elected for a term of two years, but not
more than one session shall be held during their tenure of office unless
called in special session by the Speaker of the House with the approval
of the Governor.

3. Representatives shall be elected in November, and the House shall
convene on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January to sit
during its own pleasure.

4. Representatives shall make rules for their self-government and shall
be the general state law making body.

II.

1. The Senate shall be composed of one member from each congressional
district, but there shall never be less than five nor more than fifty in
any State Senate.

2. Senators shall be elected for a term of ten years subject to recall
at the end of each two years, by petition signed by a majority of the
electorate of their district.

3. (a) No legislation shall originate in the Senate. Its function is to
advise as to measures sent there by the House, to make suggestions and
such amendments as might seem pertinent, and return the measure to the
House, for its final action.

(b) When a bill is sent to the Senate by the House, if approved, it
shall become a law, if disapproved, it shall be returned to the House
with the objections stated.

(c) If the House considers a measure of sufficient importance, it may
dissolve immediately and let the people pass upon it, or they may wait
until a regular election for popular action.

(d) If the people approve the measure, the House _must enact it in the
same form as when disapproved by the Senate,_ and it shall then
become a law.

III.

1. (a) The Governor shall be elected by a direct vote of all the people.

(b) His term of office shall be six years, and he shall be ineligible
for re-election. He shall be subject to recall at the end of every two
years by a majority vote of the State. [Footnote: The recall is used here,
as in other instances, because of the lengthened term and the desirability
of permitting the people to pass upon a Governor's usefulness at shorter
periods.]

2. (a) He shall have no veto power or other control over legislation,
and shall not make any suggestions or recommendations in regard thereto.

(b) His function shall be purely executive. He may select his own
council or fellow commissioners for the different governmental
departments, and they shall hold their positions at his pleasure.

(c) All the Governor's appointees shall be confirmed by the Senate
before they may assume office.

(d) The Governor may be held strictly accountable by the people for the
honest, efficient and economical conduct of the government, due
allowance being made for the fact that he is in no way responsible for
the laws under which he must work.

(e) It shall be his duty also to report to the legislature at each
session, giving an account of his stewardship regarding the enforcement
of the laws, the conduct of the different departments, etc., etc., and
making an estimate for the financial budget required for the two years
following.

3.(a) There shall be a Pardon Board of three members who shall pass upon
all matters relating to the Penal Service.

(b) This Board shall be nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the
Senate. After their confirmation, the Governor shall have no further
jurisdiction over them.

(c) They shall hold office for six years and shall be ineligible for
reappointment.



CHAPTER XLIII

THE RULE OF THE BOSSES


General Dru was ever fond of talking to Senator Selwyn. He found his
virile mind a never-failing source of information. Busy as they both
were they often met and exchanged opinions. In answer to a question
from Dru, Selwyn said that while Pennsylvania and a few other States had
been more completely under the domination of bosses than others, still
the system permeated everywhere.

In some States a railroad held the power, but exercised it through an
individual or individuals.

In another State, a single corporation held it, and yet again, it was
often held by a corporate group acting together. In many States one
individual dominated public affairs and more often for good than for
evil.

The people simply would not take enough interest in their Government to
exercise the right of control.

Those who took an active interest were used as a part of the boss'
tools, be he a benevolent one or otherwise.

"The delegates go to the conventions," said Selwyn, "and think they
have something to do with the naming of the nominees, and the making of
the platforms. But the astute boss has planned all that far in advance,
the candidates are selected and the platform written and both are 'forced'
upon the unsuspecting delegate, much as the card shark forced his cards
upon his victim. It is all seemingly in the open and above the boards, but
as a matter of fact quite the reverse is true.

"At conventions it is usual to select some man who has always been
honored and respected, and elect him chairman of the platform committee.
He is pleased with the honor and is ready to do the bidding of the man
to whom he owes it.

"The platform has been read to him and he has been committed to it
before his appointment as chairman. Then a careful selection is made of
delegates from the different senatorial districts and a good working
majority of trusted followers is obtained for places on the committee.
Someone nominates for chairman the 'honored and respected' and he is
promptly elected.

"Another member suggests that the committee, as it stands, is too
unwieldy to draft a platform, and makes a motion that the chairman be
empowered to appoint a sub-committee of five to outline one and submit
it to the committee as a whole.

"The motion is carried and the chairman appoints five of the 'tried and
true.' There is then an adjournment until the sub-committee is ready to
report.

"The five betake themselves to a room in some hotel and smoke, drink and
swap stories until enough time has elapsed for a proper platform to be
written.

"They then report to the committee as a whole and, after some wrangling
by the uninitiated, the platform is passed as the boss has written it
without the addition of a single word.

"Sometimes it is necessary to place upon the sub-committee a
recalcitrant or two. Then the method is somewhat different. The boss'
platform is cut into separate planks and first one and then another of
the faithful offers a plank, and after some discussion a majority of the
committee adopt it. So when the sub-committee reports back there stands
the boss' handiwork just as he has constructed it.

"Oftentimes there is no subterfuge, but the convention, as a whole,
recognizes the pre-eminent ability of one man amongst them, and by
common consent he is assigned the task."

Selwyn also told Dru that it was often the practice among corporations
not to bother themselves about state politics further than to control
the Senate.

This smaller body was seldom more than one-fourth as large as the
House, and usually contained not more than twenty-five or thirty
members.

Their method was to control a majority of the Senate and let the House
pass such measures as it pleased, and the Governor recommend such laws
as he thought proper. Then the Senate would promptly kill all
legislation that in any way touched corporate interests.

Still another method which was used to advantage by the interests where
they had not been vigilant in the protection of their "rights," and when
they had no sure majority either in the House or Senate and no influence
with the Governor, was to throw what strength they had to the stronger
side in the factional fights that were always going on in every State
and in every legislature.

Actual money, Selwyn said, was now seldom given in the relentless
warfare which the selfish interests were ever waging against the people,
but it was intrigue, the promise of place and power, and the ever
effectual appeal to human vanity.

That part of the press which was under corporate control was often able
to make or destroy a man's legislative and political career, and the
weak and the vain and the men with shifty consciences, that the people
in their fatuous indifference elect to make their laws, seldom fail to
succumb to this subtle influence.



CHAPTER XLIV

ONE CAUSE OF THE HIGH COST OF LIVING


In one of their fireside talks, Selwyn told Dru that a potential weapon
in the hands of those who had selfish purposes to subserve, was the long
and confusing ballot.

"Whenever a change is suggested by which it can be shortened, and the
candidates brought within easy review of the electorate, the objection
is always raised," said Selwyn, "that the rights of the people are being
invaded.

"'Let the people rule,' is the cry," he said, "and the unthinking many
believing that democratic government is being threatened, demand that
they be permitted to vote for every petty officer.

"Of course quite the reverse is true," continued Selwyn, "for when the
ballot is filled with names of candidates running for general and local
offices, there is, besides the confusion, the usual trading. As a rule,
interest centers on the local man, and there is less scrutiny of those
candidates seeking the more important offices."

"While I had already made up my mind," said Dru, "as to the short ballot
and a direct accountability to the people, I am glad to have you
confirm the correctness of my views."

"You may take my word for it, General Dru, that the interests also
desire large bodies of law makers instead of few. You may perhaps recall
how vigorously they opposed the commission form of government for
cities.

"Under the old system when there was a large council, no one was
responsible. If a citizen had a grievance, and complained to his
councilman, he was perhaps truthfully told that he was not to blame. He
was sent from one member of the city government to the other, and unable
to obtain relief, in sheer desperation, he gave up hope and abandoned
his effort for justice. But under the commission form of government,
none of the officials can shirk responsibility. Each is in charge of a
department, and if there is inefficiency, it is easy to place the blame
where it properly belongs.

"Under such a system the administration of public affairs becomes at
once, simple, direct and business-like. If any outside corrupt
influences seek to creep in, they are easy of detection and the
punishment can be made swift and certain."

"I want to thank you again, Senator Selwyn, for the help you have been
to me in giving me the benefit of your ripe experience in public
affairs," said Dru, "and there is another phase of the subject that I
would like to discuss with you. I have thought long and seriously how to
overcome the fixing of prices by individuals and corporations, and how
the people may be protected from that form of robbery.

"When there is a monopoly or trust, it is easy to locate the offense,
but it is a different proposition when one must needs deal with a large
number of corporations and individuals, who, under the guise of
competition, have an understanding, both as to prices and territory to
be served.

"For instance, the coal dealers, at the beginning of winter, announce a
fixed price for coal. If there are fifty of them and all are approached,
not one of them will vary his quotation from the other forty-nine. If
he should do so, the coal operators would be informed and the offending
dealer would find, by some pretext or another, his supply cut off.

"We see the same condition regarding large supply and manufacturing
concerns which cover the country with their very essential products. A
keen rivalry is apparent, and competitive bids in sealed envelopes are
made when requested, but as a matter of fact, we know that there is no
competition. Can you give me any information upon this matter?"

"There are many and devious ways by which the law can be evaded and by
which the despoliation of the public may be accomplished," said Selwyn.
"The representatives of those large business concerns meet and a map of
the United States is spread out before them. This map is regarded by
them very much as if it were a huge pie that is to be divided according
to the capacity of each to absorb and digest his share. The territory is
not squared off, that is, taking in whole sections of contiguous
country, but in a much more subtle way, so that the delusion of
competition may be undisturbed. When several of these concerns are
requested to make prices, they readily comply and seem eager for the
order. The delusion extends even to their agents, who are as innocent as
the would-be purchaser of the real conditions, and are doing their
utmost to obtain the business. The concern in whose assigned territory
the business originates, makes the price and informs its supposed rivals
of its bid, so that they may each make one slightly higher."

"Which goes to show," said Dru, "how easy it is to exploit the public
when there is harmony among the exploiters. There seems to me to be two
evils involved in this problem, Senator Selwyn, one is the undue cost to
the people, and the other, but lesser, evil, is the protection of
incompetency.

"It is not the survival of the fittest, but an excess of profits, that
enables the incompetent to live and thrive."

After a long and exhaustive study of this problem, the Administrator
directed his legal advisers to incorporate his views into law.

No individual as such, was to be permitted to deal in what might be
termed products of the natural resources of the country, unless he
subjected himself to all the publicity and penalties that would accrue
to a corporation, under the new corporate regulations.

Corporations, argued Dru, could be dealt with under the new laws in a
way that, while fair to them, would protect the public. In the future,
he reminded his commission, there would be upon the directorates a
representative of either the National, State, or Municipal governments,
and the books, and every transaction, would be open to the public. This
would apply to both the owner of the raw material, be it mine, forest,
or what not, as well as to the corporation or individual who distributed
the marketable product.

It was Dru's idea that public opinion was to be invoked to aid in the
task, and district attorneys and grand juries, throughout the country,
were to be admonished to do their duty. If there was a fixity of prices
in any commodity or product, or even approximately so, he declared, it
would be prima facie evidence of a combination.

In this way, the Administrator thought the evil of pools and trust
agreements could be eradicated, and a healthful competition, content
with reasonable profits, established. If a single corporation, by its
extreme efficiency, or from unusual conditions, should constitute a
monopoly so that there was practically no competition, then it would be


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Online LibraryEdward Mandell HousePhilip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 → online text (page 11 of 14)