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Representatives. Sometimes it has lost control of the Senate; but there has been no time in the last forty years in which it has lost complete control of all the branches of government. Its power has at all times been strong enough during these four decades to prevent the curtailment of its privileges and to thwart every attempt at an honest revision of the tariff in the interest of a plundered people.
Not only that, but in the name of protection to American industry a small group of beneficiaries of tariff extortion have been allowed to sweep American commerce from the high seas. The flag once floated in every port of the known world. Today the traveller may circumnavigate the globe and never see the Stars and Stripes fluttering from anything but the yacht of a millionaire.
What no Congress would have dared to do 'directly has been done indirectly in the name of protection to American industry. And during all the years that these industries have been taxing the people they have also been consolidating themselves into great financial despotisms that knew no law but their own, no justice but their own, no general welfare except their own sordid profits.
The National Government has not regulated the tariff; the tariff has regulated the National Government, and today the tariff-taxing industries, under threat of panic, defy the American people to interfere with their special privileges.
This is the condition to which the country has been brought by a single experiment in paternalism. What would be the result if the profits of every corporation hinged on the action of government? What would be the result if Washington held in its hands the power of life and death over every dollar invested in interstate trade and commerce in the United States? What would be the result if the rate of dividends on fifty thousand millions of organized capital could be raised or lowered by
the action of the bureaucrats of the Federal Government? What would happen if all the trade, commerce, industry and opportunity of the American people hinged upon the decrees of a single citizen holding the office of President of the United States?
Does any sane human being who knows the history of tariff manipulation doubt what the result would be? Is there the faintest shadow of question that organized Plutocracy would seize upon all the machinery of national authority? That all the billions and billions that Wall Street controls would take possession and keep possession of this Government? That it would make Presidents and Congresses and courts and rule the country by the sheer brute force of money?
Then this is the invitation that the Progressive party holds out to the organized capital of the country in the most far-reaching scheme of centralization ever seriously offered to the American people.
To make it certain that protected industries will redouble their efforts to control the Government the Progressive platform promises a tariff commission which is to "elicit information" and "prescribe a uniform system of accounting for the great protected industries." In other words, it is to pry into all the secrets of protected industry, and to retain even its legitimate trade secrets protected industry must and will own the commission.
To make it certain that all corporations will join hands with the protected trusts and monopolies this platform. promises another "strong Federal commission." This commission is to "maintain permanent active supervision. over industrial corporations engaged in interstate commerce," doing for them "what the Government now does for the national banks and what it does for the railroads." In the process of such regulation and supervision this commission must "attack unfair competition," control capitalization and enforce publicity.
This is the first platform in American history that ever recognized industrial monopoly as a legitimate object of governmental supervision. The national banks have a monopoly of the issuing of currency; that is the excuse for their existence. So the industrial corporations are to be regulated, supervised and dealt with as the national banks are dealt with. The railroads are natural monopolies, so the industrial corporations are to be dealt with as the railroads are dealt with. Along with this monumental programme of centralization goes "effective Governmental supervision and control" of all the "artificial causes" that affect the cost of living, whatever these causes may be. Thus all the great agencies of finance, of transportation, of trade, of commerce and of industry are to be brought under the authority of the Federal Government, with all the tremendous burden of public and private taxation falling upon the producing and consuming masses.
As the Federal Government can by virtue of its power over national banks take possession of such a bank and appoint a receiver to administer its affairs, so the Federal Government is to be empowered to appoint a receiver for any industrial corporation whenever the bureaucracy at Washington so decrees. If the Federal authority, for example, is displeased with the way that Mr. Oscar Straus's brother manages his department store in New York City, the Federal Government can forthwith appoint a receiver for Macy's and take possession. If the Federal Government believes that a Macy bargain sale is "unfair competition" with Mr. Wanamaker, Mr. Straus is straightway ousted from the store and a hireling officeholder from Washington takes charge of Mr. Straus's stock and credit and property.
As the Federal Government by virtue of its control over railroads as natural monopolies can regulate rates, so the Federal Government is ultimately to fix the price of manufactured articles. As the regulation of railroad
rates affects the wages of railroad employees, so must the fixing of industrial prices regulate the wages of industrial employees.
As the Federal Government in the process of regulating banks and railroads recognizes, legalizes and enforces their monopolistic privileges, so the Federal Government is to regulate, legalize and enforce the monopolistic privileges of all trusts and corporations which it undertakes to supervise.
Under such a form of Government only one thing could happen. Every dollar that is invested in legitimate business would be forced to combine politically with every dollar invested in illegitimate business merely as a matter of self-protection. All property being at the mercy of government, all property would join in a coalition to control the Government. And in such a struggle property would win because it would have the means of corrupting, intimidating and purchasing the votes to carry the election.
Fortunately there is little possibility that this farreaching scheme of centralized despotism will be adopted next Tuesday at the polls; but that it should be put forward with almost religious fervor by a great political party, led by the only living ex-President of the United States, is a matter of the utmost public concern. That hundreds of thousands of honest, well-meaning citizens should ardently indorse it is a matter of greater public concern. That hundreds of thousands of seemingly intelligent persons should be so ignorant of the history and meaning of their own institutions, so indifferent to the lessons of their own history, is still more disquieting.
This Government once undertook to legalize and regulate human slavery. Although slavery was confined to one section of the country, although it affected fewer than half the States in the Union, although the slave-holding oligarchy numbered only 8,000 men who owned more
than fifty slaves each, yet this oligarchy, in the protection of its property interests, seized the whole Government of the United States. It elected Presidents and Congresses and appointed the Justices of the Supreme Court. It bent all the energies of the Government to the protection of its "peculiar institution," and when its domination was finally challenged by the aroused conscience of the Nation it plunged the Republic into the most disas trous civil war known to history.
The Progressive programme is an invitation to another civil war unless the appeal to blood and iron is evaded by a distracted people's turning en masse to Socialism as their only refuge from the sword and the torch.
Under this programme of supervision and regulation, capital is as sure to control the Government as slavery was to control it under a policy of legalization and restriction. Property always controls government when government goes into partnership with property, because property has the resources and fixity of purpose by which government can be controlled. Out of this plutocracy must come a permanent class of capitalists and a permanent class of laborers. All the small, independent producers must inevitably be eliminated. With their elimination must go all opportunity for the man in the ranks to fight his way to an independent livelihood.
In Germany, where a paternal government has not only set in force all of the Roosevelt schemes of industrial supervision and partnership but all the Roosevelt schemes of social justice for the workingman, the growing discontent of the laboring classes has brought about a condition of affairs in which Socialists, under an honest system of representation and manhood suffrage, would have 65 per cent. of the Reichstag. Year by year the revolt of this disciplined, docile population against a system of government which balances great privilege against small privilege increases, and even the maledictions of the Em