In New Jersey the people have realized this for a long time, and a year or two ago we got our ideas on the subject enacted into legislation. The corporations involved opposed the legislation with all their might. They talked about ruin,—and I really believe they did think they would be somewhat injured. But they have not been. And I hear I cannot tell you how many men in New Jersey say: “Governor, we were opposed to you; we did not believe in the things you wanted to do, but now that you have done them, we take off our hats. That was the thing to do, it did not hurt us a bit; it just put us on a normal footing; it took away suspicion from our business.” New Jersey, having taken the cold plunge, cries out to the rest of the states, “Come on in! The water’s fine!” I wonder whether these men who are controlling the government of the United States realize how they are creating every year a thickening atmosphere of suspicion, in which presently they will find that business cannot breathe?
So I take it to be a necessity of the hour to open up all the processes of politics and of public business,—open them wide to public view; to make them accessible to every force that moves, every opinion that prevails in the thought of the people; to give society command of its own economic life again, not by revolutionary measures, but by a steady application of the principle that the people have a right to look into such matters and to control them; to cut all privileges and patronage and private advantage and secret enjoyment out of legislation.
Wherever any public business is transacted, wherever plans affecting the public are laid, or enterprises touching the public welfare, comfort, or convenience go forward, wherever political programs are formulated, or candidates agreed on,—over that place a voice must speak, with the divine prerogative of a people’s will, the words: “Let there be light!”
THE TARIFF—“PROTECTION,” OR SPECIAL PRIVILEGE?
Every business question, in this country, comes back, sooner or later, to the question of the tariff. You cannot escape from it, no matter in which direction you go. The tariff is situated in relation to other questions like Boston Common in the old arrangement of that interesting city. I remember seeing once, in Life, a picture of a man standing at the door of one of the railway stations in Boston and inquiring of a Bostonian the way to the Common. “Take any of these streets,” was the reply, “in either direction.” Now, as the Common was related to the winding streets of Boston, so the tariff question is related to the economic questions of our day. Take any direction and you will sooner or later get to the Common. And, in discussing the tariff you may start at the centre and go in any direction you please.