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spot when it comes to neatness on a public scale!
The propaganda of order in little things has not yet permeated our private lives. By and large, cigarette stumps and crumpled newspapers are the most conspicuous adornments of our interiors. Periods of unemployment, like the present, however, are good times to cultivate the game of cleanliness. Those who occupy spare time folding newspapers, straightening pictures, putting books back on shelves, or sweeping the sidewalk find it a not unpleasant diversion.
Why is it that no other so-called civilized country has so few scrap baskets per home as the United States? Why is it that no other civilized country has so few flowerpots per capita in its public parks? The answer is obscure, but there probably is an answer.
An American park official who recently made a tour of the public parks of the South American countries found flowerpots in profusion and delicate statuary and ironwork. In the United States our vigorous youth would make short work of such objects by utilizing them as projectiles. Such embellishments must be anchored or policed. In South America not an officer is in sight. Yet there are as many thieves and scoundrels per capita in those countries as in the United States. One answer is that the populace there regards the parks as its property, paid for by its taxes, and takes a personal pride in protecting them, whereas in the United States taxes and what they buy are something remote, and parks are larks of the politicians.
Now, in Europe there is a general joy of order in personal habits, in public as well as private places with the possible exception of Great Britain.
One of the most amusing essays of that British wit, Jerome K. Jerome, is a satire on the sense of order in German parks. It never occurs to the toughest German urchin to disobey a sign. Jerome describes a German beetle, removed from the grass where it was forbidden, which walked away down the gravel path toward the sign AUSGANG as fast as its short legs could carry it, ashamed of being caught trespassing on anything so precious and beautiful as public grass. Give us, we exclaim, after reading this essay, the destructive carelessness of British boys and girls!
British parks after a bank holiday are said to be almost as disorderly and littered as Central Park in New York before the advent of Commissioner Moses. The answer is a dusty answer, but perhaps disorder in little things is a characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon races on all continents, a by-product of rugged but careless individualism in our pioneer days.
In the United States any attempt to make us tidier is likely to be taken as an attack on our liberties, a tendency toward regimentation. As though a pianist could improvise better on broken and smudgy keys of various shapes and colors!
There is nothing inherently un-American about meticulous order in small things. When we do practice tidiness, we enjoy it as thoroughly as children playing a game. The sturdy members of the Appalachian Mountain Club who frequent the mountain trails from Maine to Georgia are neither a regimented nor a fastidious fraternity. They can sleep soundly in khaki on pine needles or on loads of hay. But they leave no litter. If a member absentmindedly throws an orange peel into the woods, another member leaps to pick it up for him. After breakfast, every empty can is pounded flat and buried a foot under a rock before camp breaks up. In the Adirondack Mountains, it has been said that when a novice hiker from New York City spends a night in a lean-to, it takes two forest rangers a day to clean up after him. But, when a dozen "Appalachians" camp for the night along an Adirondack trail, only an expert with a magnifying lens can distinguish where they pitched their tents.
Depressions and periods of unemployment are good times to practice the arts of cleaning up. When recovery rushes in on us again, we may not have time to find ash trays for our cigarette stubs.
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL
"America the Beautiful" need not be only the America of diving girls, skyscrapers, fertile fields, broad rivers, and lofty mountainsbut America the Beautiful, land of order and harmony in little things, where every yard and pavement is a park in miniature and every home, however small, a palace.
Henry Goddard Leach
Your Government Save
by WILLIAM HARD
I BEGIN HERE to try to interest the home
town citizen in governmental economy as far away as Washington, D. C. I hope to be able to show him that economy by Washington must begin in his own home town.
The question is not a partisan one. The Republicans began our present experiment in extravagance.
In the fiscal year 1927, our national governmental expenditures were a bit under $3,000,000,000. In 1929, the depression arrived. In the fiscal year 1932, the Republicans raised expenditures to $4,500,000,000.
In 1933 we got the Democrats. They at first intended to reverse the Republicans and go in for economy.
But what happened? Some people say that the President listened to "theorists" who wanted "spending for recovery." He did. But there is a much more powerful explanation than that.
The citizens were at that time demanding spending. I was in Washington. I saw and heard their representatives. I saw and read big heaps of their letters and telegrams. They had never heard of John Maynard Keynes or other spending-for-recovery "theorists." They knew simply that business was bad. Thereupon butcher and baker and candlestick maker they demanded spending to help business and give employment.
The Democrats decided that, if they were going to do it, they would do it right. In the fiscal year 1934, they spent $6,000,000,000. In the fiscal year 1936, they spent $8,500,000,000. In this current fiscal year of 1939, they are spending $9,500,000,000.
And the depression seems to like it. We have more unemployed today than we had four years ago. We have more people on relief and
work relief and unemployment relief today than we had four years ago.
Why? I say it is because of certain things that we have done to capital. And I say that governmental spending turns out to be one of the worst of those things.
It takes at least $4,000 of capital to equip a job for a worker.
In 1928, new capital was going into private enterprise at an average monthly rate of $446,000,000. Last year, the average monthly rate was less than $70,000,000. That was not enough to modernize the equipment of the workers now working. It represented a minus quantity for really new equipment for really new workers.
In 1928, 75 per cent of our new capital went into private enterprise, and 25 per cent of it into governmental expenditures. Last year, less than 20 per cent of it went into private enterprise, and more than 80 per cent of it into governmental expenditures. Twenty per cent into jobs which produce the wherewithal to pay taxes! Eighty per cent into jobs which
There is only one end to such a road. It is a government apparently richer and richer and a population actually poorer and poorer.
THE ADDING MACHINE BROKE DOWN
MOST CITIZENS really see that fact today. The polls of public sentiment show that most citizens have now gone over from favoring extravagance to favoring economy. But why then does economy fail to happen?
The chief reason is that the citizens, though favoring economy in the polls, uniformly fail to demand economy of their representatives in Washington. And, particularly, they fail to demand it in the case of one huge item of gov
ernment expense that concerns them directly in their own home towns.
That item is the $1,250,000,000 dollars we are spending annually for public works.
I pass over the other billions being spent — to relieve the plight of the unemployed, of the farmers, of war veterans. The possibility of savings hereof eliminating graft, inefficiency, extravagance has been repeatedly urged and widely discussed. But here, since we are dealing with human needs and suffering, economies must be achieved gradually, discriminatingly.
Not so with public works. Here is spending at its purest. These expenditures are not aimed with any directness or marksmanship at citizens in distress. They are aimed in blunderbuss fashion at citizens in general and at large. We need no discriminating surgical instrument to cut these expenditures down. We can cut them down with an ax. And we, the citizens, have it in our power to do it promptly by our own. action.
I say so with humility. I believed once in public works for recovery's sake. I can see now that they are not helping. I am cured. Here is the cure:
Public-works expenditures, 1931: $421,000,000; 1933: $472,000,000; 1935: $766,000,000; 1937: $1,100,000,000; 1939: $1,250,000,000.
Faster and faster to nowhere. In nine years now we have spent approximately $7,000,000,000 in public works - and recovery is still behind the clouds. And that figure does not include the Works Progress Administration. It includes only nonrelief public works.
There may be something to looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; but I am sadly driven to think that there is nothing at all to planting a pot of gold and then expecting the rainbow.
I suggest earnestly that the citizen's first duty in federal governmental economy is to unplant that pot of gold right in his own. locality.
MOBBING THE TROUGH
WILL NOW DETAIL the contents of the public-works pot.
1. Federal aid to public roads - estimated expenditures this year: $232,000,000.
This aid covers the country like a drizzle. At first it extended only to roads between munici
palities. Now it extends also—in millions of dollars a year— to roads within municipalities.
Till lately it extended only to main roads. Now it extends also to feeder roads. Last year, for feeder roads: $5,000,000; this year: $20,000,000; next year: $25,000,000.
Till lately it did not extend to the elimination of local grade crossings. Now it does. Last year, for grade crossings: $10,000,000; this year: $40,000,000; next year: $50,000,000.
I should like to see a letter to a Congressman from a local chamber of commerce saying: "We will improve the pavements of our town or we will leave them unimproved; but we want the federal Treasury to start going solvent." It would shake the Capitol from cellar to dome.
2. Rivers-and-barbors improvements estimated expenditures this year: $83,000,000.
These expenditures range from $10,000,000 for the Fort Peck Dam, in Montana, to $4,300 for Cypress Creek, in Maryland. They cover some 168 projects in—or affecting — thirtysix States. Only twelve States are left out.
When the improving of a stream is complete, then comes the maintaining of the improvement. This year, besides spending $83,000,000 on improvements, we are spending $43,000,000 on maintenance.
There is always the Ocmulgee River, for instance. It is in Georgia. For a hundred miles from its mouth it is as much as two feet deep. We began improving it more than half a century ago. Every year we now spend several thousand dollars maintaining it. In the last full year of record, it carried 5,000 tons of freight, to a total value of $15,000.
We used to improve only navigable streams. Then we began to remove snags from tributaries to navigable streams. We limited the cost to $1,000 per year per tributary. The new rivers-and-harbors bill, just introduced into the Congress, proposes to raise that limit to $3,000 per tributary.
Never yet has any Congressman received a petition from citizens resident on the banks of a tributary saying: "We can remove our own snags from our own sub-sub-creeks."
Some of these rivers-and-harbors improvements are purely political. Some are commercially necessary. Others, while not necessary, are worthy. I could concoct worthy projects to improve various transportation
facilities that would cost this country a billion dollars a year, if only we could afford it.
The National Economy League uttered a solemn truth the other day. It said that the problem was not merely "wastes." It said: "If we really want governmental economy, there are many expenditures for worthy purposes that will have to be drastically curtailed."
3. Flood control-estimated expenditures this year: $98,000,000.
A worthy purpose indeed. And watch it grow!
For flood control in 1932: $28,000,000; in 1938: $61,000,000; this year: $98,000,000.
The federal government was at first asked to control interstate floods. Now it has to control them wholly within States or even wholly within counties.
This year we are spending $11,600,000 of federal money on flood control in California, wholly within Los Angeles county. That project, before it is finished, will cost $70,000,000.
Then there are also little projects, as, for instance, $15,000 this year to control floods at Penny Slough, on the Rock River, in Illinois.
Our projects this year for flood control at federal expense are distributed to some 131 spots in thirty-six States. I said that twelve States this year are left out of rivers-and-harbors improvement projects. Eight of them are embraced in flood-control projects. That leaves only four now really out in the cold.
4. Reclamation - estimated this year: $93,000,000.
Another worthy purpose- very worthy. But is this just the time for so much of it?
In 1933, we began paying farmers to remove land from cultivation. Ever since then, we have spent more and more money every year on reclamation projects in arid and semiarid regions, to bring land into cultivation, as follows: in 1934, $25,000,000; in 1938, $65,000,000; in 1939, $93,000,000.
The Bureau of Reclamation says: "Reclamation projects now being constructed will add 2,500,000 acres to our cultivated area."
The Bureau reclaims an acre from the desert. A farmer plants it to sugar beets. The AAA pays him for not growing too many. Thus we arrive at a perpetual circular motion of expense. Couldn't we slow it up just a bit?
I shed a tear a few paragraphs back for the
four States that this year get neither riversand-harbors improvement projects nor floodcontrol projects. I can now stop weeping for them. All four are blessed with reclamation projects. Our federal government this year is doing something-something - for the waters of all forty-eight States. This shows that congressmen are efficient. It even more conclusively shows that constituents who want expenditures make themselves heard.
5. Federal public buildings — estimated expenditures this year: $60,000,000, in more than seven hundred American cities and villages.
6. Grants to local governments for structures wholly nonfederal, wholly local — estimated expenditures this year: $392,000,000.
These projects in forty-eight States cover pretty nearly the whole possible range of local public cultural aspiration: grants for school buildings, dormitories, zoos; for hospitals, laboratories, nurses' homes; for viaducts, street lights, traffic signals; for police stations and jails; for sewers, water mains, drains; for bird farms and fish hatcheries; for gymnasiums, stadiums, bathhouses, swimming pools, parks, country clubs.
The Public Works Administration does not have to wrestle with citizens to accept these gifts. The citizens wrestle with the Public Works Administration to get them. The citizens' latest list of "applications" covers 5,807 proposed projects which would cost $778,163,800.
I note Monroe County, New York. It is a strong Republican county. Its big city, Rochester, is already getting a grant of $400,000 for a sewer.
But is Rochester satisfied? Are its surrounding communities satisfied. They are not.
Rochester now wants a grant of $1,233,121 for a city hall. Henrietta wants $148,500 for a school. Honeoye Falls wants $53,100 to improve its streets. Irondequoit wants $54,000 for a town hall. Fairport wants $17,659 for an incinerator.
I said at the start that this is not a partisan question. I say it again. Republican localities are just as voracious for federal funds as Democratic localities.
LET THE GOVERNMENT DO IT
THIS CONCLUDES the contents of the public-works pot of gold.
The trouble with these expenditures is not "waste" in their administration. The true trouble is the expenditures themselves. The true trouble is the tendency to go to Washington and strike the federal rock for bigger and bigger gushes of supposedly costless
That tendency is on its way to destroying two things: one, the citizen's character and, two, his pocketbook.
Last year New England had a very destructive hurricane.
In the old days, New England would have struggled through the consequences by herself. In these days, she demanded — and got federal appropriation of $5,000,000 to clear fallen logs off private land - not public land; private and she also induced the federal government to adopt a plan for buying the fallen logs at its own risk. The government pays the owners a price. It then resells the logs. But note! If there is a profit on the resales, the profit goes to the owners. If there is a loss, the government takes it!
This plan involves some $15,000,000. Not all New England, not all her six proud, selfreliant States, not all her ancient and historic financial institutions, not all her great private fortunes could organize a local $15,000,000 timber-salvage deal! The government at Washington had to undertake it.
An equal destruction is on the way now to the citizen's pocketbook. The citizen can no longer flatter himself that the federal gratuities to his home town are getting paid for by the "ultrarich."
The ultrarich are commonly defined as those citizens who have incomes of more than $100,ooo a year.
In 1929, we taxed their incomes at a rate that worked out to a mathematical average of 15 per cent and collected $653,000,000 from them.
YOU TELL THEM!
EDERAL GRATUITIES to the localities are sapping the citizen's self-reliance and are on their way to sapping his means of self-support. He now begins to realize it. He now begins to tell the polls of public sentiment that he wants governmental economy. He wants it principally in the government's administrative expenses. But what does he do even about that? I will quote from one of our most astute politicians, Senator Ashurst of Arizona:
During the years I have been a member of the Senate, I have received upward of 30,000 telegraphic dispatches. Many thousands of them have urged me to vote in favor of appropriations. Only three or four have urged me to vote against appropriations. When the tax-payers cease sending telegrams requesting Congress to provide unnecessary appropriations, the tax-payers will obtain relief from high taxes.
I go a bit further than Senator Ashurst. I am convinced that citizens must not merely refrain from sending telegrams for extravagance. They must send telegrams and letters and postcards against it. And not against it simply in general. No. Against it in particular -in some specific instance - in their own States and preferably in their own cities, towns, villages.
At the time of the American Revolution, we had "Committees of Correspondence" throughout the thirteen colonies writing to their fellow citizens and to their outstanding leaders on behalf of the American cause. We need local committees now to ferret out unnecessary local federal expenditures and to write to Washington and to one anotherprotesting against them. If in every county in this nation we had a citizens' committee against federal extravagance in that county and if these committees co-operated with one another in vigorous representations to Washington, we should begin to see the sproutings of economy in Washington absolutely on the instant.
There is no such pressure on Washington today from the localities. Many citizens are still demanding expenditures. Virtually no citizens are demanding elimination of expenditures.