Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/521

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we must always bear in mind their constituency. They are the schools of the populace as well as of the higher classes. If we take the attitude of mind of the average American citizen and compare it with the standards of life represented by the public schools, and then take the culture of the educated classes and compare it with the ideals set forth by private institutions, we shall find that, relatively speaking, the public schools are on much the higher plane; and surely no other mode of comparison can commend itself to our sense of fairness. Instead, therefore, of mistrusting the lesson of the public schools, I should be glad to believe that in five years—no, in ten years—university extension would be doing in its line as effective work as our poor commonplace public schools are doing in theirs.

I have tried briefly to answer the expressed objections to the nationalization of university extension; but these do not represent to me the gravest of the possible objections which might be urged, and I am also disposed to believe that under the editorial comment there was a more fundamental dissent in mind. The question, I take it, is essentially not one of experience as to what sort of a servant the Government has been in the past, but is the deeper question of the proper function of government. Had experience shown the public service to be relatively poor instead of being, as I believe, relatively good, I should still advocate its ministration if social studies led to the conclusion that public serving was desirable. The remedy would then lie, not in abolishing the service, but in purifying it. On the other hand, had experience been most favorable, more favorable by far than it has been, and could it be shown on sound theoretical grounds that such governmental activity was mischievous and likely to lead to encroachments upon ultimate personal liberty, it would be one's clear duty to set one's self resolutely against the public convenience and abolish such dangerous service.

Speaking in a large way, there are in America to-day two classes of political thinkers: those who believe in a paternal government, which shall say what one shall eat and drink, what one shall wear, how long one shall work, at what age one shall send one's children to school, what precautions one shall take against loss of life—in a word, a government which shall be a special if not always a very wise providence to each of its citizens; and there are those who, mistrusting this meddlesome paternalism, would go to the other extreme, and would limit the functions of Government to a minimum. The first class is apt to include those well-meaning but mischievous reformers who wish, like the prohibitionist, to cure society by medicine in place of hygiene, and that part of our professional class who have drawn their social ideals from bureaucratic Germany. The second class