Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/612
6o8 TEE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
to select a representative to meet with representatives of other neigh- borhoods for the county or state, these representatives to select the na- tional officers. But this scheme has broken down under the party system and the control which can be exerted by professional politicians and selfish interests. At present representative government has partly collapsed, but the demands of the people will soon be met. In the meanwhile direct nominations, the initiative, the referendum and the recall may be of use. But direct nominations favor notoriety and wealth. The referendum is a conservative rather than a radical measure; it can, however, be used to advantage as an educational method when all are concerned and interested. A commission should be more competent to select a health officer than a plebiscite vote, though it may be that the people would be more likely to be guided by expert opinion than is a temporary autocrat, such as Governor Dix. Great progress has been made in appointments for fitness and in civil service rules. The pres- ent unrest and dissatisfaction is not due to worse selections, but to higher standards. Our political organization and our politicians have advanced more slowly than the intelligence and the moral sense of the community.
5. The payment of all national, state, county and municipal debts. Taxation discouraging private dehts. Freedom from debt is the first principle of personal and domestic economy. It is extraordinary that it should be so completely neglected in the case of public debts. If the socialist party wants municipalities and the state to own the tools of production, the first thing to do is to let them own themselves. Debts are the principal hold of the kleptocratic classes on the community, giving us our system of paper wealth by means of which a small class taxes the people. Temporary war debts can be understood, though nothing would conduce more to peace than the payment of the cost of war as it proceeds. Debts for exceptional public improvements are proper, but they should be paid within a fixed period. Contrary to ex- isting practise, bonds should be taxed rather than stocks. The taxing of evidences of debt would limit borrowing and would return to the people part of the interest fund. The rich would be compelled to in- vest their money in productive enterprises, where it would be of use and would take risks, leading to its wider distribution.
6. A national progressive tax on inheritances and incomes as large as can he collected. A progressive tax on corporations. A heavy tax on expenditures involving waste and luxury. Inheritances and incomes should be taxed by the nation to prevent dodging if the taxes are local. No tax is good, but an inheritance tax is the least objectionable of all taxes. It taxes the dead or at all events those who have not had the property ; it is easily and truly collected ; it tends to the distribution of wealth. It should be at least half of large fortunes, and larger when