Vol. VI.—No. 35.
RALEIGH. N. C., SEPTEMBER 5, 1912.
The Grab Bag Trust.
URING the last ten years the United States has spent
$72,745,300 for public buildings, and the Government
is constructing them now at the rate of ten a month.
Architecturally they are creditable, and some of them
effect economies, because the Government can secure
chapter or better accomodations by building than by renting.
In most cases, however the public business could be done more
cheaply and as well in rented offices; and these buildings are not
built primarily to faciliate Government business. They are built to
please the voters in the districts and towns in which they are placed.
They are a part of the “pork” which Congressmen give and which the
local political managers have come to demand as the price of re-elec
Almost every member of the House introduced this year at
least one bill providing for the erection of a public building in his
district. The Committee on Public Buildings welded these demands
into a single “omnibus” bill in which it tried to be fair to each claim
ant without recommending a sum so big as to arouse public protest.
In this way a skillful committee parcelled out a $22,000,000 appropri
ation to give 282 out of the 391 Representatives “something to take
back home.” In some towns the Government accomodations are so
extravagant that they cost $2 a year to maintain for every inhabitant,
though of course the United States Treasury and not the inhabitants
foot the bills.
The Committee on Expenditures on Public Buildings in the rec-
cent session handed in an exhaustive report which said that in the
“mania for the construction of public buildings” many towns have
been given buildings “where private persons would have been glad
to have equipped them under the direction of. the Government—for a
rental of one half the price paid for janitor service.”
The Committee points to many extravagances and wasteful prac
tices but it does not get at the root of the matter. It does not offer a
remedy for “pork barrel” appropriations. As long as a Congress
man’s constituents demand that he raid the United States Treasury
for their benefit as the price of reelection and he is in a position to
do it, so long will the majority of Congressmen work for their dis
tricts’ special interest and not for the United States as a whole. As
long as this continues, the Public Buildings Bill, the River and Har
bors Bill, the Pension Acts, and to some extent the army and navy
appropriations will be made in corrupting and pauperizing waste.
Under Mr. Roosevelt “pork barrel” appropriations reached their
zenith. Mr. Taft has spoken against them—and signed the bills that
made them into law. A tremendous opportunity for true economy
and the elimination of a deep-seated corruption is open to the new
leaders in Congress and to a new President—World's Work.
One Dollar a Year.