Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

B

Emptying a City's Pork Barrel

Condensed from The World's Work (June '26)

[graphic]

Frank R. Kent

ALTIMORE has done something new-something so simple, effective, and sound that it is surprising that no other city seems to have thought of it before.

With no exciting wave of reform, with no "campaign" or "drive," with no "rescue of government from politicians," in fact, with nothing but some sensible thinking, some quiet planning, and some hard but almost noiseless work, Baltimore got its wasteful, unwieldy, typically American government upon as sound a business basis as a typically American mail-order house.

The thing Baltimore did was entirely different from the things most cities had done, for Baltimore accomplished its extremely thoroughgoing administrative revolution without really changing its government or its methods of government at all.

In the spring of 1923, William J. Casey, a Baltimore banker, received in his mail a tax bill which shocked him. It was a bill for taxes on the 16-story office-building of the Continental Trust Co., of which Mr. Casey is Vice-President. In four or five years, the taxes had increased from = 24 cts. per square foot of floor space to 61 cts., and Mr. Casey had no idea why.

[blocks in formation]

definite plan for trying to rationalize city government. A brief investigation had strengthened his conviction that the city government, involving the collection and expenditure of millions of dollars a year, was being handled with less business sense than the finances of a church oyster supper.

And he had succeeded in imparting these convictions to a considerable group of the leading business men of Baltimore.

A Mayoralty campaign was under way, characterized by an almost total absence of any real issue. "Take hold of the Casey plan!" someone told Howard W. Jackson, the Democratic nominee. "As the business man's candidate, get behind this scheme for a business-like government!"

Jackson did it. He promised, if elected, to appoint a commission on economy and efficiency which should put the city government on a business basis regardless of politics. And it is to his everlasting credit that he kept that promise.

An hour after he had been sworn into office, in May, 1923, Mayor Jackson wrote to a group of the largest tax-paying corporations in the city, inviting them to name representatives to serve on the new commission, to undertake a complete study of the operating methods of the city government, and devise plans for a more efficient and economical administration. He called upon the telephone company, the gas and electric company, the street railway company, the steam railroads in Baltimore, the big industrial plants-steel companies, sugar refineries, banks-invited them to step up and take the reins of municipal government.

The commission thus chosen was

[graphic]

made up of 15 officers of the largest corporations in the city. One remarkable thing about the Casey plan began to be realized by people after the work was well started, and that was that the services of such men could not possibly have been commanded by the city for less than $750,000 a year, if they had been paid. But they were not paid. They did their work for nothing.

Quite often in situations like this, it is one thing to consent to "undertake a high civic duty," and another thing really to do much about it. But the commission deliberately entered upon a laborious task involving months of research and detailed study. It saw the city government as a business involving, first, accounting, second, f. nance, third, engineering, fourth, legal work, and fifth, executive work, and it organized committees to make studies along those lines. On these

committees the members of the commission put the best experts they had in their plants and offices-engineers, accountants, lawyers, storekeepers, purchasing agents, executives, auditors, and what not. They were turned loose upon the old city government like a medical detachment on a battle field, and they went to work with vigor.

There is no room in this article, of course, to discuss in detail the ailments they found. They found a city government consisting of 45 departments with nine sub-departments. They found more than 50 different payrolls for city employes, with little or no check upon them. They found half a dozen departments sending out bills for various sorts of taxes at various times of the year, requiring taxpayers to settle accounts with the city half a dozen or more times.

They found that more than $11,000,000 was owing to the city from delinquent taxpayers, who, but for this research, might never have paid up a cent of their delinquencies; and, indeed, many had already been relieved forever of that responsibility by statutes of limitations.

Where there should have been method and system, they found chaos;

where there should have been checks and balances, they found none; where one department could do a piece of work, a dozen departments were doing it; where one man could do a job, 20 men were doing it.

During 1924, their drive on delinquent taxpayers brought more than For $5,600,000 into the city coffers. the 50 old-time payrolls they succeed. ed in substituting a central payroll bureau, at a known saving of $10,000 a year, and no one can estimate what unknown savings. For the haphazard methods of billing the public for taxes half a dozen times a year, they substituted a Bureau of Receipts, centralizing in it responsibility for the $38,000,000 of annual city revenues, instead of spreading it around in several departments, offering definite opportunities for fraud.

These items scarcely scratch the surface of the accomplishments of the Casey plan. Of course the big, outstanding evidence of its success was the reduction of the local tax rate from $2.97 in 1923, to $2.48 in 1926.

The most puzzling thing about it all was, how were they able to choke off the politicians? It was done easily because it was done sensibly. The riot would have started at the first cry of "Reform!" But these were business men and not reformers; they were concerned with results, not with publicity or brass bands. They unearthed some juicy scandals. Reformers would have brayed about them. But the men who worked the Casey plan under Mayor Jackson said nothing about them at all. The commission closed up money leaks and emptied pork barrels forever, but its only concern with the past was to wipe it out, not to advertise it.

Every one has benefited-the cor porations, because they have developed a new interest in city government, and the public has acquired a new interest in and liking for them; the City Hall, because it is a happier, more decent place to work in; the people, because they get better treatment at the hands of their government-and because taxes are lower.

Trade Rivalries That Lead to War

Condensed from Current History (June '26)

Dr. Jerome Davis

NE of the social problems which

precise cause of war. Has any nation during the 20th century ever been ready to admit that it has been guilty of causing a war? Each country prides herself that she of all others is blameless. Anyone can see that if the Germans feel that the French were primarily responsible for the war, and the French are certain that it is all the result of a damnable conspiracy on the part of the Germans, both cannot be entirely right. During the confict we are told that "German submarine commanders are brutal and barbarous"; afterward Admiral Sims informs us they were most humane. During the war our famous war correspondents, such as Sir Philip Gibbs, tell us fairy tales; afterward they show how far we were misled "Now It Can Be Told."

were

As

In the early days of society armies proclaimed openly that they fighting for land, goods, wealth. society has advanced, mankind has fought for favorable markets. Professor Seligman of Columbia says: "The great wars of the 17th and 18th centuries, fought in order to control the sea and to expand the colonial empire, all had in view the development of nascent industry on capitalist lines." But long before we had reached this stage Christianity had taught that men should not kill. Hence mankind began to idealize and glorify their aims in each armed conflict. It seems probable that the rulers of all countries in a war period create fictions to justify heir cause before the people. They nay even fool themselves into temorary belief in their idealizations. hus we may say we are "fighting the rar to end war" or to "make the world

safe for democracy"; but can we be sure of it?

Nations today are largely governed by economic considerations. More and more economic imperialism is becoming a dominant factor. The result has been described by an English publicist, Leonard Wolfe: "We are forced to the conclusion that European policy has led to the subjection and economic exploitation of the African and to subjection, anarchy and ecoWhen nomic exploitation in China." business has once become established in a foreign country, naturally the If flag must follow the investor. Mexico interferes with American business interests, our flag is threatened and warships are hurriedly dispatched. If Santo Domingo fails to pay interest on her debt, we must take possession of the country. Not long ago this advertisement appeared in a New York newspaper:

FORTUNE IN SUGAR-The price of labor in Haiti is lower than in any other cane sugar-growing country. Haiti now is under United States control. There are large profits in the sugar business. We recommend the purchase of stock_in the Haitian-American Corporation. Interesting story, "Sugar in Haiti," mailed on request.

It was just because Haiti was "under United States control" that this investment was so profitable and so safe.

Whenever one nation thinks it is superior to another, friction is bound to result. After the World War, when the British were in command of Archangel, Russia, their officers rode free in the street cars. Sometimes they would use a native horse and carriage, ride from place to place, then refuse to pay the driver at all. Hence it might be said that investors are some

[ocr errors][merged small]

times our modern war-makers. They go into a foreign land and build up industry. In the process they may run roughshod over the natives, often exploiting them cruelly. This creates friction and hatreds, which rankle and fester until, if they are not removed, they ultimately necessitate a major operation-war. The Chinese Opium War is a crowning example. The Chinese wanted to stop the importation of opium. The result was a conflict with Great Britain.

The missionaries killed by the Boxers were in a sense the victims of the economic greed of the great powers. For five years there had been a most disgraceful scramble of European nations to partition China. Finally, the Boxers broke out into open protest against these foreign aggressions.

It is not only economic exploitation that is disastrous. It is also the fact that if one nation obtains a rich harvest from a backward country it is sure to arouse jealousy on the part of some other powerful empire. Before the war, the Kaiser stated: "Germany demands a place in the sun," to signify that Germany demanded her share of the profits from economic imperialism. It is quite conceivable that this may be the real cause of the dislike between countries, which is usually thought to be traditional hatred. Certainly we know that at one time England was the enemy of France and all French and English boys were taught to hate each other. At another time this hatred was transferred to Germany.

Consider the case of JapaneseAmerican relations. Having lived for years in Japan as a boy I can testify to the fact that there was no country in the world which was more revered by the Japanese people. It was also true that America had a very friendly feeling toward Japan. Yet today Rear Admiral Fiske predicts that a war between America and Japan is almost inevitable because, forsooth, there is an economic rivalry between

us.

It is obvious that America would

hesitate to throw away thousands of lives in Mexico or anywhere else merely because one American had been insulted. A slight to the flag or to an individual would be merely the match which set off the conflagration, but the underlying motives are quite likely to be very much more powerful. These underlying causes of war tend to be economic today because whole civilization is an economic order. All trade is likely to cause friction, particularly if one nation has access to the sources of raw material which are denied to another.

our

The arenas of friction in Egypt, in China, in Siam, in the Sudan, in Morocco, in Persia, in the Ottoman Empire and in the Balkans are all due to economic causes. A former French Premier has stated that foreign diplomacy today is oil diplomacy. And the various Governments concerned are supporting their business interests diplomatically, financially, and even with threats of military action.

Every citizen must face the question of how far we are justified in declaring war to protect business interests. During the past few years the American public learned something of the apparently corrupt methods of certain oil interests in the United States. How can we know that these same methods are not being used in foreign countries? If as a result American property interests are dam aged abroad, should they have the pro tection of the United States Navy?

The major problem for the publi statesmen to solve is, how can we al ways uncover the real causes of inter national trouble before they involve u in war? If we can publish to all th people the underlying economic mot vations back of the conflict, it is much less likely that we shall ever stamped ourselves into taking the desperat step of modern warfare. It seem probable that the only hope of accor plishing anything approximating tha fact-finding and publicity-making age: cy would be an international cou with power, or an association of th nations of the world, or both.

1

D

ON

Short Skirts

Condensed from The Forum (June '26)

Hugh A. Studdert Kennedy

NE afternoon in June, some 12 years ago, I was passing under the Admiralty Arch in London when, suddenly, I saw a woman turning out of a little side road. She was obviously a woman of grace and refinement, beautifully gowned, save for the outrageous fact that the sleeves of her dress were completely transparent from the wrists to the shoulders.

Well, it was a shock, but I pulled myself together, and was walking on without, I hope, any undue exhibition of emotion when I noticed that several of the passers-by were not acting with a like restraint. First one here and one there, quite frankly stopped to look at her. Then they began to follow her. Then the small crowd, with its inevitable snowball tendencies, began to draw a large crowd. The girl quickened her pace, but so did the crowd; then some small boys began to jeer, some youths began to jostle her, and it was easy to see what would happen. Before I knew what I was doing I enlisted the services of a policeman, and between us we got the half fainting girl into a taxi. By the time I had deposited her at Queen Anne's Mansions, where she was stay. thing with her father and mother, she had tearfully explained that they had just arrived from New York, that every woman in New York was wearwing that kind of dress, that she never could have dreamed that such a thing would happen, and that she would

never get over it.

an inch below the knee; in gowns devoid of necks and only very transparently supplied with backs. Yet ten years before, one lone girl clad in a fashion which would now be regarded as almost Quakerish in its modesty, had created something bordering on a panic in this very place.

I could not help recalling this incilent when, last June, I found myself once again passing under Admiralty Arch. Everywhere one looked were irls, not in gowns with transparent leeves, but in gowns with no sleeves t all; in gowns that did not come

It may have been fancy, but it seemed to me that the air was purer and cleaner than it had been ten years before, as if an unholy pressure had been relieved, and impudent hocus-pocus shorn of its imaginary power. Legs were everywhere, arms were everywhere, necks and backs were everywhere, and yet the men and boys passing back and forth were going about their daily walk just as if nothing were happening.

One hundred years ago, the women of Jane Austen's day were almost completely preoccupied with questions of sex. They sewed a little, cooked a little, read French a little, played the harpischord a little, and had the vapors whenever necessary. But whether they sewed or played or had vapors, it was always with some very gallant gentleman or gentlemen in view. And as to the very gallant gentlemen, they were so gallant that a chance view of my lady's ankle was sufficient to put them into a cold sweat.

With unerring, if unconscious wisdom, the woman of today is doing the first things first, she is getting rid of the mystery of the flesh. The arbiters of fashion may think that like a homeopathic dose every attenuation adds to its potency, yet the man who 20 years ago was fired by the suggestion and mystery of the clothed form finds himself unmoved in the presence of so much nakedness, because it is unashamed.

« AnteriorContinuar »