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cent years in which the State has widened her boundaries under the impelling influence of the causes which we have enumerated. If one were asked to characterize in a single sentence the development of government during the present century, it could not be better done than by describing such development as one wherein the purely political duties of the State have become progressively less important as compared with its other functions.
In the United States, the extent to which matters of public interest are economic in character is especially apparent. With arduous labor, our enterprising news journals are able to arouse occasional excitement on the part of the people in regard to items of our foreign relations, but as a matter of fact, public matters of purely political import seldom arise. Matters connected with the maintenance of domestic tranquillity, and defence from foreign aggression or wrong enter but slightly into our general thought. Our legislatures are mainly concerned with economic matters, such as the levying of proper import duties, with the control of trusts, with problems connected with railroads, with interstate commerce, with the assessment of taxes, with the provision of proper circulating currency, and the maintenance of sufficient banking facilities.
The extent to which this movement has already gone is evidenced by a comparison of the history of the last century with that of the latter half of the present. Then, history was little but the record of purely political events; of wars, of treaties of offence and defence, of the settlement of dynastic or territorial disputes, of struggles of factions for the possession of political power, and of the maintenance of public order. Now, the pages of our history, when they shall be written, will be largely filled with the record of industrial growth, the negotiations of commercial treaties, and of the development of this or that phase of economic life.
Now we may ask ourselves, whether or not the facts and the reasoning which have preceded, point necessarily to ultimate socialism? To this a categorical answer cannot be given.
They do point, undoubtedly, to an inevitable extension of the State's activities far beyond those at present exercised. But in considering the bearing of an increase in State activity upon this question, it is to be noticed that not every assumption by the State of a new function is a step towards socialism.
This is a very important point. We have already made the distinction between essential and non-essential duties of the State. The assumption by the State of a power in this latter field is ordinarily termed socialistic, but not properly so. Further consideration shows that this analysis of governmental functions may be carried one step farther. The nonessential optional duties may themselves be grouped under two distinct heads, which may be termed "socialistic" and "non-socialistic" respectively. The socialistic duties properly comprehend only activities which could be exercised by the people if left to their private initiative. Therefore, their assumption by the State, is, to that extent, a curtailment of the industrial freedom of the people. Examples of socialistic duties are the ownership and operation by the State of railroads, of canals or of telegraph lines; the ownership by the city of gas, water and electric light works, and the provision of model tenement houses for the poor by the public authorities. These, it will be seen, admit of private management, and, in fact, are, in this country, very generally attended to by private enterprise.
Under the non-socialistic duties of the government are included those which if not assumed by the State would not be exercised at all. They are duties not essential to the State's existence, and yet, from their very nature, not likely or even possible of performance by private parties. Such duties as these are therefore not socialistic, because their public assumption does not limit the field of private enterprise, nor in any way interfere with private management of any sort of industry. As a rule, they are powers educational in character rather than coercive, directive rather than controlling. Under this head come all those administrative duties that
are of an investigating, statistical character, and consist not in the interference with industry, but in the study of conditions and the diffusion of the information thus obtained. Work of this kind is that performed by the United States Departments of Labor and of Agriculture, by the Bureau of Education, the Fish Commission, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, by the Decennial Censuses, etc. Public libraries and reading-rooms, boards of health, the provision of public parks, and certain branches of education also come under this head. Likewise of this character is that large class of governmental duties, that we have before mentioned, the exercise of which results in the raising of the plane of competition, rather than destroying it. Thus, when we consider closely, we see to what a very large degree the increase of governmental activity during the present century has been in this nonsocialistic field. Furthermore, we discover that indications seem to point to this same field as the one to which the continued extension of the sphere of the State will probably be largely confined. The effect of the exercise of these duties is not to check or even to regulate competition. Their purpose is not to interfere with the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest, but to transform the environment, and, by diffusing sounder information concerning the character of the conditions and the nature of the forces with which man is surrounded, to render it possible for him either to harmonize his efforts with them, or to direct his strength and intellect to a modification of them. In fine, to increase his opportunities.
In the field of socialistic duties, the greatest extension of the State's powers will probably be seen in the ultimate ownership and operation by the State or municipalities of all those industries termed "natural monopolies"-the railroads, gas, water and electric light plants, street transit facilities, etc. Economists of the present school have generally advocated the public ownership of these "natural monopolies," and have laid stress upon the fact that, as they claim, socialistic precedents are not thereby established, basing this view upon the statement that it is only in this class of industries, which are
not amenable to the healthy influence of competition, that there will ever arise the necessity for State management. This allegation served for a time as a fair argument, but the recent development of gigantic trusts, which have largely removed from competitive influences the production of a very considerable number of commodities whose production is not "naturally" monopolistic, has greatly weakened this economic distinction. As has been before said, this phase of industrial development is as yet so new, that it is not yet determined whether their influence will be ultimately for the public good or not. Should these capitalistic aggregates prosper and prove lucrative to their individual owners, but, from the extent of their power of controlling trade, tend to exert an influence detrimental to society at large state intervention would become a necessity. Should simply legislative control be found insufficient for their regulation, the assumption of the production of these commodities by the State itself would seem to be necessary, and this would be a very long step towards socialism.
77. GOVERNMENTAL ENTERPRISE IN THE NON-ESSENTIAL
The government of the United States has not been guided by the let-alone policy advocated by John Stuart Mill. On the contrary, it has followed a utilitarian policy and has already entered quite extensively into the field of what Professor Willoughby terms the "industrial" or "general welfare" functions. That this is true is seen from the following statement by Mr. John Martin of the "socialistic" activities of our government: .
Democracy in this country has acted socialistically1 and communistically to a degree which few Americans realize. From early days the individual liberty of the poor man to go without roads, to keep his children from school, to poison the streams with typhoid germs, to carry a gun and administer his own justice, or to sell liquor, has been restricted for the
1 Mr. Martin uses the word socialism in its broad sense to denote a wide range of activities beyond those that pertain to the individual.
common good by methods which are socialistic. Gradually the practical man, heedless of theories, faced by new problems, has adopted in America more and more of the socialistic method until to-day it is a most important factor in local, state, and national life.
Besides our international relations, the army, the navy, and courts of justice, the National Government now conducts the post-office, coinage, regulation of the currency and note-issue, ship-building, ship-repairing and its own banking. It lights the coast and deepens harbors and rivers with so much national benefit that a strong movement is on foot for the expenditure of hundreds of millions in making a waterway from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, and a still-water route on the Atlantic Coast. Recently private contractors broke down in dredging the new channel past Sandy Hook in New York Harbor. But the Government, reckless of the musty proofs that it could not possibly manage any business enterprise, went ahead with the work itself; and, before the estimated time had elapsed, ocean liners traversed the channel. The National Government, furthermore, carries on and publishes its own researches in geology, meteorology, statistics, zoology and geography. Every one of these functions, including those of the army, navy and courts of justice, was in some countries at one time left to private enterprise and was financed by individual investments.
. In few of our larger activities are socialistic methods more in evidence than in the industries related to agriculture. The farming class constitutes the largest body of voters in America, and industrially their work is the most important. For aiding them in their labors, a perfection of communism has been attained of which few Americans are aware. Whatever puzzling emergency confronts the farmer, he can summon expert aid to give him all that science and experience can furnish to enable him to meet it. The National Department of Agriculture, assisted by the State Department, stands ready to show him what crops to grow and how to grow them; what animals to breed and how to breed and tend them;