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be feared that in other cases no real service has been performed. Many of the committees do little or no work, perhaps not meeting once in the course of a session, and the provision for clerks for them has given rise to no little occasion for criticism, much of it in the past well founded.
All this has greatly changed of late. The growth in the volume of work has destroyed the sinecures. The chairman whose committees is without work as such, occupies its nominal employees with tasks for which he otherwise might have to pay in part out of his own funds. A fellow-member who as a youth twenty years ago saw Congressional life in Washington at close range, tells me that the busiest Senator of those days had less of routine business on his hands than now confronts the most inconspicuous member of the House.
To-day, therefore, the reformer would find little ground for valid criticism of Congressional expenditure for personal services. The method of employment for office purposes could not be materially improved. Such services have a confidential element that precludes the application of the merit system. It ought, however, to be applied in the choice of the working force of each House as a whole. “The patronage" could well be abolished, not only to the gain of the public treasury, but also, by way of better service, to the benefit of Congressmen themselves.
In Canada appointments in the legislative service are made by the Government without confirmation or ratification by any other authority, just as in all other branches of the Canadian public service. In practice clerical assistance is largely detailed from the regular civil service. It is against the rules for any member of a legislative assembly there to propose any expenditure whatever unless first recommended by the administration. So what money the lawmaking body grants for the public service in any field, creates patronage in which it does not share. Hence its natural tendency is to keep down such appropriations just as it is the natural tendency of an American Legislature to expand them. In 1908 such contrasts as these appeared north and south of the line, in amounts paid to legislative employees : Manitoba, $6623.85, as against $69,477 in Minnesota and $31,861 in North Dakota ; British Columbia, $2590, as against $30,756 in the State of Washington.'
1 Henry Jones Ford, "American and Canadian Political Methods,” No. Am. Review, November, 1911.
A WASTEFUL source of lavish generosity at the expense of the tax-payer has been the practice of giving gratuities, allowances, bonuses, or some like form of benefaction. It is hard to refuse such gifts to persons with whom friendly acquaintance has been established, particularly if they are in position to do favors of the personal and intimate variety. Public employees are quick to take advantage of this. As an illustration of how it has been worked, read one of Horace Greeley's “Recollections of a Busy Life," telling (p. 229) of an experience in his brief service as a Congressman (1848-49).
'An abuse had crept in, a few years before, at the close of a long, exhausting session," he says, "when some liberal soul proposed that each of the sub-officers and attachés of Congress (whose name is Legion) be paid $250 extra because of such protracted labor. Thenceforth, this gratuity was repeated at the close of each session - the money being taken by the generous members, not from their own pockets, but Uncle Sam's, and the vote being now that, 'The usual extra compensation,' etc. As our session was a light as well as a short one, some of us determined to stop this Treasury leak; and we did it once or twice, to the chagrin of the movers. At length came the last night of the session, and with it a magnificent 'spread, free to all members, in one of the Committee-rooms, paid for by a levy of five dollars per head from the regiment of underlings who hoped thus to secure their 'usual' gratuity; giving each a net profit on the investment of $245. After the House had been duly mellowed and warmed, a resolve to pay the ‘usual extra compensation' was sprung, but failed two thirds in the affirmative being necessary to secure the requisite suspension of the rules. Nothing daunted, the operators drew off to repair damages; and soon there was moved a resolve to pay the chaplain of the House his stipend from the Contingent Fund, and to suspend the rules to accord this resolve an immediate consideration.
"I object, Mr. Speaker,' I at once interposed; 'we all know that the chaplain's salary has not been left unprovided for to this time. This is a ruse, - I call for the Yeas and Nays on suspending the rules.'
Shame! Shame!' rose and reverberated on every side; 'don't keep the chaplain out of his hard-earned money! Refuse the Yeas and Nays!'
“They were accordingly refused; the rules were indignantly suspended, and the resolution received.
“And now, Mr. Speaker,' said the member who had been cast for this part, 'I move to amend the resolve before us by adding the usual compensation to the sub-clerks, door-keepers, and other employees of the House.'
“No sooner said than done; debate was cut off, and the amendment prevailed. The resolve, as amended, was rushed through; and our employees pocketed their $250 each, less the five dollars so recently and judiciously invested as aforesaid.”
Episodes of this sort became so frequent in the State Legislatures that it was deemed necessary to dignify them by constitutional attack. Nevada appears to have been the first to resort thereto. When it became a State, in 1864, it forbade payment to any officer or employee of the Legislature except under law passed prior to his election; and also forbade increasing or diminishing compensation during the session. Missouri said in 1875: “No allowance or emolument, for any purpose whatever, shall ever be paid to any officer, agent, servant, or employee of either House of the General Assembly, or of any committee thereof, except such per diem as may be provided for by law, not to exceed five dollars." California declared in 1879 : “The pay of no attaché shall be increased after he is elected or appointed.” In the same year Texas provided : "No donation of any unexpended balances shall be made as extra compensation or for any other purpose.” Oklahoma provided in 1907 : “The Legislature shall not increase the number or emolument of its employees, or the employees of either House, except by general law, which shall not take effect during the term at which such increase was made."
It is not clear that constitutional prohibition of gratuities is necessary. In the New York case of People ex rel. Kene v. Olcott, 11 Hun., 610 (1877), it was held that the Legislature cannot authorize the payment of extra compensation to its clerks and employees, nor compensation for a period prior to their appointment. “Where one is compensated by the day, this compensation is measured by the number of days during which he is in the employ for which he is paid. Anything beyond is a gratuity.” Nevertheless, since what is everybody's business is nobody's business, impositions of this sort are seldom likely to be taken into court and so it may be well to provide against them.
All honor to Iowa for having positively forbidden, since 1909, the giving of extra compensation to House employees in the form of "tips"; for an employee there to accept a tip, is cause for his removal. More than anybody else public servants should be kept from the debasing influences of the tip system.
Illinois, Mississippi, and Nebraska try by publicity to secure some check on expenditure, the requirement being that the Auditor shall within sixty days after adjournment publish a detailed statement of all money expended.
WITH that singular lack of sense of proportion which so often shows itself in republics, the people at times resent the cost of their legislatures, particularly when matters of salary are brought to general attention. Yet the cost of making the laws is an insignificant proportion of the whole cost of government. The legislative department of the United States is debited with an annual charge of between thirteen and fourteen million dollars. Between five and six millions of this, however, is for public printing and binding, much of which is not really part of the expense of legislation, and the Congressional Library, with functions far beyond those of helping to make laws, costs six or seven hundred thousand. It is probably fair to say that the cost of Congress itself is less than ten cents per capita, or forty-five cents a family, and is only about one per cent of the total disbursement of the national government for routine expenses.
The Census Bulletin on Financial Statistics of States for 1915 gives the total expenditure for the legislative branch of State governments as $6,344,341; the Bulletin for 1916 makes it $8,832,240. Adding these and dividing by two, to compensate for the biennial factor, and then dividing by the estimated population of 1915, gives an average per capita cost of 7.7 cents, just under two per cent of the total disbursements for running expenses. That makes the cost for the average family less than thirty-five cents a year for State lawmaking. Even in an annual session State like Massachusetts the cost is less
than fourteen cents per capita or sixty-five cents for each family.
Critics are wont in a matter like this to look at the total of dollars spent rather than at average costs per capita. This leads them to forget growth in population, particularly if as historians their minds have been accustomed to the days of small things. Millions terrify them and they produce all sorts of strange generalizations. For example, note the conclusion of so sane a writer as Professor Dealey: “No one for a moment supposes that the States get their money's worth in return for this enormous expenditure. Unquestionably better results might be secured at half the cost under a more efficient system.' I am one of those rash enough to think that taken by and large the average American family does get the worth of thirty-five cents a year from the lawmaking of the State in which it dwells, and forty-five cents a year from that of Congress. Is it really true that these are excessive prices to pay for the redress of grievances and for the adaptation of law to the ever-changing needs of a diversified and developing society? On the contrary, might it not be said with reason that so restricted an expenditure is niggardly economy, penny-wise and pound-foolish ?
I quite agree with Professor Dealey that better results might be secured under a more efficient system, particularly if he has in mind a system whereunder the making of administrative law would be chiefly performed by administrative agencies, but that the cost would be wisely cut in two is altogether improbable. On the other hand, would it not be better economy in the long run to spend twice the money, that the laws may be properly framed after adequate research — the most pressing need of the moment? Professor Dealey does well in calling attention to “the burden of needless litigation necessitated by defective laws." It is not alone the litigation that costs, but also the needless hardships imposed on citizens, the uncertainties injected into commerce and industry, the interferences with the normal currents of trade and enterprise. We need better lawmaking more than we need less lawmaking. To get it we shall have to spend more money rather than less, and it will be worth far more than the cost.
"J. Q. Dealey, Growth of Am. State Constitutions, 279.