Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/166

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THE causes which control human life and human actions are complex and difficult to grasp; yet, to act reasonably and to progress, man must somehow unravel the tangle of causes and assign to each its true value.

Perhaps, in no department of life are the causes assigned for certain results more varied than in politics. Yet every man with a sense of duty toward his nation feels that he must accept some of the suggested causes as the proper ones, in order that he may form the ideals which guide his actions.

The causes popularly assigned for political and economic changes are almost universally those arising from human actions. A high tariff is assumed as sufficient cause for business prosperity by one class of thinkers, and by another class is assumed to tend toward financial distress. The threat of a silver standard in monetary affairs is considered by one party as a sufficient cause for tremendous business disturbances. With equal certainty these disturbances are considered by another party to be due to the gold standard. Even the success at the polls of a certain political party is assumed by some to be a sufficient cause for general prosperity. One well-known senator has maintained his ability to show, notwithstanding the various phases of opinion through which each of the large political parties has passed, that the success of one particular party at the polls has always been followed by prosperity in the nation, while an opposite result has followed the election of the other party.

It is not my object, nor is it possible for me here, to collect and weigh the evidence which has been given for each of these opinions. My object is to show that, besides those mentioned, there are other forces which act on man in his business and political relations, and that no satisfactory opinion can be formed as to the relative importance of the various causes until these also are considered.

As a professional investigator in science, I am frequently brought to consider the tremendous influences that natural phenomena in the earth, air and sky have on human affairs, and to wonder that these in-