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it, unless imperatively demanded by public interests, is to violate the Democratic principle, “Equal rights to all and special privileges to none." It is sometimes urged that the bank is only permitted to issue its notes in the same manner that an individual is permitted to issue his. It does not necessarily follow that a corporation can safely. be permitted to do everything that an individual does, but, in this case, the coporation asks for a privilege which no individual desires. When an individual issues his notes, he issues them for the purpose of obtaining money and pays interest upon the money, while the bank desires to issue its notes as money and draw interest upon them. It has sometimes been suggested that the banks might be allowed to issue up to the face of the bonds and be relieved from all tax upon circulation, provided the interest on the bonds is forfeited to the Government while the bank notes are in circulation. But this has never commended itself to the bankers, because it takes away the profit upon the issue.
A few years ago it was proposed by some to have the Government issue paper money and loan it upon farm lands at 2 per cent. per annum, the loan not to exceed 50 per cent. of the value of the land. This proposition was merely an application of the banker's idea to the farmer. The bank puts up Government bonds for security, the farmer wanted to put up land for security. The banker borrows 90 per cent. of the par value of his security, while the farmer was willing to stop at 50 per cent. The banker now pays I per cent. and wants it reduced to of 1 per cent., while the farmer was willing to pay 2 per cent. Those who oppose the national bank of issue can, upon principle, oppose the loaning of money by the Government to any particular class of citizens. But how can the advocate of a national bank of issue oppose the principle which underlies the sub-treasury? I have opposed both. In answer to the charge of favoritism, it is said that any person can go into the banking business and thus enjoy the benefits of the law. I reply that the same argument would justify a bounty to lawyers or to the members of any other profession or occupation, because all professions and occupations are open to all citizens.
The second objection to the bank of issue is that the volume of the currency, when controlled by private individuals, may be so adjusted as to benefit those who exercise the control, regardless of the interests of the rest of the people. It was upon this ground, largely, that Jefferson opposed banks of issue. A great deal is said about the desirability of an elastic currency, but it must be remembered that the power to expand or contract the currency, when a change in the volume is desirable, carries with it the power to contract or expand
it when the change may not be desirable. No one will insist that banks are conducted by men who are entirely unselfish, and until they are, it will not be safe to place in their hands so great a power as that involved in the right to control the volume of paper money. Wendell Phillips pointed out this danger so felicitously that I incorporated his remarks in my Boston speech.
The third objection is one which is becoming more and more apparent every day, namely, that banks of issue, when once established, claim a vested right in the nation's financial policy. The national banks today seem to resent any attempt upon the part of the people generally to hold or express an opinion adverse to the banker's policy. They assume that they alone are able to understand such questions and that their interests alone are to be considered. The controversy between the advocates of national bank currency and the advocates of Government currency will continue until the banks retire from the note issuing business, or until the Government retires from the business of issuing its notes. Government notes which, like the greenbacks, are redeemable in coin on demand, are not fiat money; they have all the advantages which can be urged in favor of national bank currency and, in addition thereto, have the advantage of the legal tender function.
During the campaign I endeavored to center public attention upon the money question, but on several occasions spoke of the growth of trusts and argued in favor of their extermination. The trust is in our midst; its influence is on the increase; it must be grappled with and overthrown. President Cleveland, in his last message to Congress, treats of this evil in the following language:
Another topic in which our people rightfully take a deep interest may here be briefly considered. I refer to the existence of trusts and other huge aggregations of capital, the object of which is to secure the monopoly of some particular branch of trade, industry or commerce, and so stifle wholesome competition. When these are defended, it is usually on the ground that though they increase profit they also reduce prices, and thus may benefit the public. It must be remembered, however, that a reduction of prices to the people is not one of the real objects of these organizations, nor is their tendency necessarily in that direction. If it occurs in a particular case, it is only because it accords with the purpose or interest of those managing the scheme. Such occasional results fall far short of compensating the palpable evils charged to the account of trusts and monopolies. Their tendency is to crush out individual independence and to hinder or prevent the free use of human faculties and the full development of human character. Through them the farmer, the artisan and the small trader is in danger of dislodgment from the proud position of being his own master, watchful of all that touches
his country's prosperity, in which he has an individual lot, and interested in all that affects the advantages of business, of which he is a factor, to be relegated to the level of a mere appurtenance to a great machine, with little free will, with no duty but that of passive obedience, and with little hope or opportunity of rising in the scale of responsible and helpful citizenship.
To the instinctive belief that such is the inevitable trend of trusts and monopolies is due the widespread and deep-seated popular aversion in which they are held and the most unreasonable insistence that whatever may be their incidental economic advantages, their general effect upon personal character, prospects and usefulness cannot be otherwise than injurious.
Though Congress has attempted to deal with this matter by legislation, the laws passed for that purpose thus far have proved ineffective, not because of any lack of disposition or attempt to enforce them, but simply because the laws themselves, as interpreted by the courts, do not reach the difficulty. If the insufficiencies of existing laws can be remedied by further legislation, it should be done.
The fact must be recognized, however, that all federal legislation on this subject may fall short of its purpose because of inherent obstacles, and also because of the complex character of our governmental system, which, wihle making the federal authority supreme in its sphere, has carefully limited that sphere by metes and bounds which cannot be transgressed. The decision of our highest court on this precise question renders it doubtful whether the evils of trusts and monopolies can be adequately treated through federal action-unless they seek directly and purposely to include in their objects transportation or intercourse between states, or between the United States and foreign countries.
It does not follow, however, that this is the limit of the remedy that may be applied. Even though it may be found that federal authority is not broad enough to fully reach the case, there can be no doubt of the power of the several States to act effectively in the premises, and there should be no reason to doubt their willingness to judiciously exercise such power.
If the trust could be exterminated by messages it would long ago have passed into "innocuous desuetude"; but it requires more than official criticism to eradicate such an evil. If trusts exist in violation of law, they can be exterminated only by the enforcement of the law. If present laws are insufficient, new and sufficient laws can be devised. If the Constitution, which has been so construed as to prevent the taxation of the incomes of corporations, can be so construed as to protect trusts, it is high time for a constitutional amendment which will enable the American people to protect themselves from trusts.
Our country has, in my judgment, much to fear from the political influence exerted by large corporations. The business of the country is falling more and more into the hands of corporations, and since a lawyer receives both his reputation and his experience from his
practice, the attorneys for the great corporations come to be considered the leading attorneys at their respective bars. In appointments to public office, corporation attorneys have not only the advantage which their professional prominence gives them, but they also have the advantage of friendly relations with the prominent officials of other corporations. Thus it may happen, without the intention of the appointing power (and it may happen the more easily with the intention of the appointing power), that officials appointed to enforce the law will be biased against the law which is to be enforced. It may even happen that judges upon the bench will retain after appointment the bias acquired in corporation practice. Public officials, whether executive, legislative or judicial, are but human beings, and in making, interpreting and executing the law, may be unconsciously influenced by preconceived opinions or present associations. I believe that the continued existence of the trust is largely due to the fact that many public officials, without openly defending it, are at heart friendly to it.
The pension plank of our platform, so far as I know, escaped serious criticism, and my Congressional record upon this subject was not assailed. But the Republicans circulated far and wide an editorial which.appeared in the Omaha World-Herald nearly two years before I became connected with the paper. This editorial, which criticised certain pension legislation then under discussion, was used by some who knew that I was in no way responsible for it. During the campaign several prominent generals made a tour of the country and appealed to the veterans to support the Republican ticket, but their arguments were directed against free coinage, rather than against the attitude of the Democratic party on the subject of pensions. It is safe, however, to assert that the Republican position upon the money question drove away more votes than it drew to that party.
The civil service plank of the platform aroused hostile criticism in some quarters. An attempt was made to array the civil service employes against the ticket because the Democratic party declared against life tenure in the civil service. I only referred to this subject twice during the campaign, once at Washington, in a speech which will be found in another chapter, and later at Chicago in a speech. which was delivered late in the evening and not fully reported. I take this opportunity to express myself more at length.
I do not believe that life tenure is, as a rule, a wise thing in a government like ours. As suggested in my letter of acceptance, the fact that the people make frequent changes in their public officials in
case of elective offices is conclusive proof that life tenure is not popular. If they desired to have their public servants hold office for life, they would manifest that desire by keeping elective officials in office permanently. As long as human nature remains as it is, it will not be safe to place public officials in a position where they are entirely independent of those whom they serve. The man who is permanently provided for, no matter what changes may take place in politics, is apt to become indifferent to public questions and be concerned only in the size and continuance of his salary. I do not mean to say that this is always the case, but it is too apt to be the case. It may be laid down as a sound proposition that, in a republic, no system is wise which tends to discourage a lively interest in all matters which concern the government. The best way to compel people to scrutinize the acts of public officials is to leave them in a position where they will suffer from their own indifference. Rotation in office does not, however, mean that all public officials must necessarily change with each change of administration. Every one who has served in Congress will appreciate the embarrassment which would follow if members of Congress were compelled to look after appointments in all the departments of the Federal Government. Not only would it be embarrassing, but the member of Congress is not in a position to sit as an impartial judge and decide the relative merits of those who ask his endorsement. Without entering into details, I suggest that it is possible to place the civil service upon a substantial foundation by providing a fixed term for appointments --with the possibility of one reappointment in case of special merit— the appointments to be divided among all political parties in proportion to their political strength, and among the States in proportion to their population. In this way a person entering the service would know that by efficiency he could secure a second term, and, knowing that his service would end at the close of the second term, could make arrangements for the future. At present, a clerk when discharged without warning is often left in a position of financial embarrassment. Then, too, when each party has its proportionate representation in the civil service, there will be no disposition to violate the spirit of the law, as both parties have done under the present system. Until each party is given its share of the offices, the successful party will be tempted to secure places for as many of its members as possible. Then, too, appointment for a fixed term places the appointee in a position of political independence, where he is not required to surrender his convictions in order to retain his