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"In the debate on this measure in the House, it was objected that it would establish a precedent which might be extended until we admitted all the ministers of the government on the floor laying the foundation for aristocracy or a detestable monarchy."
There spoke the true spirit of legislative jealousy, and it settled the practice of the government, and is just as potent to-day. The first step will be taken when some President or governor turns directly to the people and asks for their protection of the rights of his office against the encroachments of the legislature, and it is by no means impossible that the country may be astonished at the response he will receive. So in the middle ages, in Europe, the sovereigns appealed to the nations for help in crushing the feudal barons, who made life a burden to all about them. The trouble in that case was that after crushing the barons the sovereigns turned round and crushed the people, though that even in the interest of the people, was the least evil of the two. The modern safeguard against this is the existence of legislatures, without whose public consent the executive cannot command a dollar of money or the services of a policeman, and which stand always ready to warn the people of the slightest attempt against their liberties by a magistrate who must go constantly back to them for election. No doubt very many and sensible people reason that the multitude are easily misled by a bad man, and might support him in suppressing the legislature. It would be interesting to examine, and the evidence is not wanting, from the century's history of universal suffrage, whether that conclusion is justified, but one thing may be said, that we should, by such a process, get at the real wishes of the majority of the people, which we certainly do not now. For all our talk about a government of, by and for the people, the effect of the predominance of the legislatures is to throw almost the whole control of government into the hands of party managers and machine politicians. We ought to be willing either really to trust the people or give up the pretence of doing so.
'Again Mr. Bradford would seem to believe that, by giving the initiative in legislation to the executive officers, such laws as the McKinley Act, of which he does not approve, would not be enacted. On the contrary, would not it facilitate the passage of such bills if they were supported by the executive and its influence?"
But they never would be supported by the executive and its influence. Without discussing protection or free trade, the McKinley Act was, in my opinion, in its object, though not entirely successful in practice, an instrument of plunder of the nation by private interests. Moreover, it is full of absurdities in common with our other tariff laws, which make it almost impossible to administer. No executive, which had to face cross-examination and debate in the House and before the country, would dare to bring forward such a bill:
"The McKinley Act was passed because a majority of the Representatives of the people in Congress were in favor of it: and no one will say that it was not openly and fairly discussed."
On the contrary, great numbers of persons will and do say that. It was passed by that process of lobbying and logrolling which has made our government a by-word among nations. So much at any rate is certain, that it was never subjected to any criticism from a national point of view. A certain number of representatives, whether from personal or party motives, worked hard for its passage. A number of others, with less concert of action, worked against it, and a large proportion having no leader to rally round, no common impulse and no support of public opinion, looked on in helpless indifference. There was not, and there never is, anybody speaking with authority as to the effect upon the welfare of the nation and in practical administration. That kind of criticism could come only from the Secretary of the Treasury:
"The overgrown power of the speaker and the exaggerated committee system in our legislation are not integral parts of the Constitution; they are subject to the temporary rules of the House, and may be modified or abolished at pleasure."
These things have existed, in their main features, ever since the House did, and under the present system they will continue to exist in vigorous growth as long as the House does. They are desperate, and certainly very ingenious, expedients for injecting some working force into what would otherwise be a paralyzed mob. The only possible way of getting rid of them is to provide a substitute organization, with leaders, whom independent members as well as parties can rally around. The only available leaders are the members of the Cabinet with their natural complement, elected leaders of opposition. To have any meaning, agitation against one system must be agitation in favor of the other, or of something equivalent :
"It seems somewhat singular that Americans should continue to write essays and books in praise of responsible Cabinet Government, when that system is not only being discredited at home, but when, as these same writers admit, there is not the remotest possibility of its introduction into this country."
If by "at home" Mr. Snow means Great Britain, which is the mother of the system, his statement would probably excite laughter among the great majority of Englishmen. In his condemnation of that system, he quotes two Americans, one Belgian and one German, but not a single Englishman. He would do well to ponder what such writers as Walter Bagehot, Erskine May and Alpheus Todd say of it, while even on the continent of Europe, bad as it may be, there is not a single government, making any pretence to parliamentary institutions, which would think for a moment of dispensing with it. Believing that it would work here as well, or even better than in England, I protest strongly against Mr. Bagehot's triumphant conclusion that it is a blessing which we can never enjoy. There is at least one writer, therefore, who does not admit the impossibility of its introduction into this country. On the contrary, believing that our present system is leading us straight, with only a question of time, to civil war, and in the faith that the
American people, so quick in the adoption of material improvements, will have the insight, the wisdom and the patriotism to avert this catastrophe, he proposes to employ his remaining strength, feeble as it may be, in the effort to point out to his countrymen the danger which lies before them, and the path which appears to him to offer the only effective and available way of escape.
THE TOTAL UTILITY STANDARD OF DEFERRED
In a paper entitled 'The Standard of Deferred Payments," published in the ANNALS for November, 1892, the writer inquired what course of prices will do justice to both parties to a time contract calling for a money payment. In the ANNALS for January, 1893, Dr. L. S. Merriam presented a thoughtful paper in which he criticised the conclusions of the first paper and gave grounds for reaching a very different result. It is now my purpose to re-open the question, and while accepting certain of his corrections, to advance reasons for adhering to my original position.
Stripped of the practical guise under which it first appeared to me the problem is simply this: At a certain date a man receives from another goods, or services, or power to buy them, and in return engages to pay at a future date a sum of money of present equivalence. During the interval there is an increase in the productiveness of human labor, and, consequently, in the abundance of goods. Determine now what should be the course of general prices in order that the contract may be kept without injustice to either debtor or creditor. The solution of this problem involves a quest for the just standard of deferred payments to which money in discharging this function should conform.
In my first paper two solutions were distinguished. gold monometallists hold that the general price of labor should remain constant so that the debtor may return as much command over labor as he originally received. The bimetallists affirm that the general price level of commodities should remain constant so that the creditor should receive no more command over consumption goods than he originally loaned. It was held that these assertions involved