The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4
National Discord and Demoralization. — The Cause and the Remedy
National Discord and Demoralization.
The Cause and the Remedy.
Perhaps at no previous period in our history have there been so many misgivings amongst thoughtful and patriotic men as to the success and permanency of our institutions as at present. Discord exists throughout the land between the various interests, races, and sections, and between the people and their rulers. Then it cannot be disguised that there is a decline in public morals, and that jobbery, corruption, and robbery preside over the municipal governments of most of our cities and large towns. To-day a man pays almost or quite as much in the form of taxes for the privilege of living in his own house in one of our cities as he did twenty years ago in rent for living in a similar one which belonged to another, and the saddest feature of this sad business is that these evils grow as time proceeds upon its onward course.
Many well-meant and vigorous efforts have been made in this city to bring about a reform, but thus far they have met with but moderate success. Notwithstanding this we believe that the practical solution of this question of municipal government under republican institutions is simple, and not only simple, but that the measures necessary to solve it are such as will prove beneficent to every section of the land and to the entire people thereof.
Let the whole people be set to work and kept at work at profitable employments. Let the industries of the country once more be vitalized as those of the loyal States were at the close of the war, and kept steadily so, and the pressure upon "the public crib" will by degrees be lightened, and be finally, almost if not wholly, removed.
A republican, above and beyond all other forms of government, demands and will have intelligence and virtue among its people, with all power is finally lodged. Without a large measure of these it will cease to exist as such, and a despotism will take its place Steadily maintained prosperity is the one and only foundation upon which such inelligence and virtue can permanently rest. While the universal education of the people is acknowledged to be an absolute necessity under free institutions, such education accompanied by a condition of page 11 things which leads to enforced idleness is but the preliminary preparation of a large body of men for living by their wits—a mode of existence over which virtue holds but moderate sway. In the presence of such a body of men, republican institutions may even become an instrument of tyranny and oppression.
We do not hesitate to affirm our full and entire conviction that the steady and persistent following of a policy which will give this country permanent prosperity, and banish from it forever all financial or rather credit crises, will finally relieve us from the control of that corruption which now threatens us with destruction, and that no other agency whatsoever will do it. Set the people to work, as they can and should be, and "the cohesive power of public plunder" will cease to be the ruling instinct of party leaders and their immediate followers, for the want of sufficient backing.
The first and most important step towards this desirable end is for our rulers to relieve their minds of all belief in the idea that any human judgment is capable of ascertaining, a priori, how much currency a country or a people need, and for them to embrace the necessary one that public demand, and it alone, is capable of determining that great question. Then will be banished from our midst the most dangerous and far-reaching piece of empiricism in all legislation, an empiricism which grows out of the practice of tyrannical governments, and is fast demoralizing us by forcing us to use the credit system, to be followed by credit crises, bankruptcy, bankrupt laws, ruin, stagnation, and widespread misery. Let these rulers so far restore to the people the power to determine the volume of the currency as to give them a 3-65 bond, interchangeable with currency, for "in the inter changeability, at the option of the holder, of national paper money with government bonds bearing a fixed rate of interest, there is a subtle principle that will regulate the movements of finance and commerce as accurately as the motion of the steam-engine is regulated by its governor. Such paper-money tokens would be nearer perfect standards of payment than gold and silver ever have been or ever can be." Under such a monetary system our country would again take upon itself the prosperity which once it knew, and, ceasing to be obliged to substitute the credit system for currency, that prosperity would be permanent, and no crisis could possibly arise, as all could deal for cash, and few would sell on credit. With that prosperity "the blessed gospel of work" would insure to us alike public peace and private morals, and then need no one despair of that Republic which is the hope of the downtrodden and the oppressed throughout the world.