In the 1936 campaign, before this country’s bureaucracy became a jungle, Franklin D. Roosevelt said his administration had “built up vast instruments of power, which in other hands might become shackles of the American people.” And last spring Robert H. Jackson, after being elevated to the Supreme Court, observed: “When a government pervades all life, holds the economic system in its hands, becomes the greatest employer, the largest borrower, and the largest lender of money, neither incompetence nor low standards of disinterestedness can be tolerated.”
In those official utterances we have the threat of the behemoth and its ubiquitous range. Its employees number many more than three millions and are increasing at the rate of 300,000 a year. Its “directives” fill twenty tomes and in effect are the law; they outnumber by far Congressional enactments. Its activities invade every life and transgress civil, political, and economic rights.
It should be said at once that within reasonable limits bureaucratic government has its virtues. It is not new, for it dates back to the Tudors. At the very outset American colonists borrowed the device from their oppressors and put into practice the techniques we are prone now to decry. Consider that the Pilgrims, as provided in the “Conditions,” made effective straightway a form of social security: “All such persons as are of this colonnie are to have their meats, drink and apparel and all provisions out of the common stock of goods of said colonnie.” As for the Puritans, Governor Winthrop, outraged that “a carpenter would have three shillings a day, a laborer two shillings and sixpence,” maneuvered successfully for a court order reducing wages and fixing prices. In Virginia, owing to the overproduction of tobacco in 1639, all below the first grade was burned by order, and fewer acres were planted. Most of the colonial governments were in business with a vengeance; some built gristmills and fixed the price of the output; in Connecticut, the village of Wethersfield constructed a town ship for trading purposes.
As early as 1785 Maryland and Virginia appointed commissions to adjust their dispute about the navigation of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. These, I believe, were the first formal State commissions and served to fix the pattern, but it was not until 1887 that the Interstate Commerce Commission, the first of a vast national congeries, was set up. Most of these boards merge all three of the governmental functions. The Founding Fathers fondly supposed that they had divorced forever the legislative, executive, and judicial powers. Papers they wrote for the Federalist and memoranda of their debates in the Philadelphia convention show how fully they were in accord with Montesquieu’s admiration of the British government in this regard.
Yet there is good reason to doubt whether there was a sound foundation for that admiration. Sir Frederick Pollock, in his introduction to “L’Esprit des Lois,” said that Montesquieu’s England of the threefold division of powers “was a fiction invented by him, a fiction which misled Black-stone and Delolme.” Whether or not it was fictional, the framers of our basic law subscribed to it. Jefferson warned President Washington that unless the equilibrium of the three functions could be preserved, there would be peril. And to Joseph C. Cabell he wrote: “What has destroyed the liberty and rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating of all cares and powers into one body.” He feared consolidation through the judiciary rather than the executive branch, which is our present concern. “When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things,” he said in another letter, “shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided by one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.” In his autobiography he observed: “Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.”
Jefferson was minister to France at the time of the Philadelphia convention and so was not with the group of delegates who walked down to the river one hot afternoon to watch a trial of John Fitch’s steamboat. There was steam under harness, the Machine Age in embryo. The ungainly contraption was to be running presently from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, but the delegates, for all their wisdom, could not perceive its manifold implications. They got no hint, evidently, that the effort to reconcile republican principles and an administration based on an agricultural economy with interstate commerce and an integrated mechanized industrialism would bring to naught their dream of tripartite governmental functions.
It was a century later, indeed, that the commerce commission was organized after being defeated for twenty years in Congress. Some of the States, to be sure, had taken the railroads in hand much earlier. Rhode Island had established a railroad commission in 1836, New Hampshire in 1844, and Massachusetts in 1869. Western States had followed suit somewhat later. Nearly two score agencies were active before Congress provided national regulation.
Into the maw of the new bureau were thrown express companies, sleeping cars, industrial lines, switches and private tracks, refrigerator cars, the storage and handling of interstate commodities, pipe lines, even the telephone and telegraph companies doing an interstate business. It made rates, demanded reports, regulated charges between rail and water carriers, fixed proportional rail rates to and from ports, and had authority over the distribution of cars. It was an “independent” agency of the Federal government.
Executive, legislative, and judicial attributes graced the new Pooh-Bah. Its rules became law for lines, shippers, passengers. It interpreted according to its own lights the act which created it. It helped the President liquidate the control of transportation after the first World War and then handled the valuation problem. No traffic company could issue stocks or bonds without its approval. Its history has been strewn with bankruptcies.
Certain responsibilities, such as the telephone and telegraph, have been removed from the area of that commission, and it controls pipelines only if they are not used for water or gas. It has never had jurisdiction over air traffic. But interstate carriers by motor truck and by bus are subject to it and it maintains a staff of engineers, appraisers, statisticians, examiners, attorneys, secretaries, clerks, and stenographers so numerous that sometimes grievances get lost in the labyrinth.
Theoretically, such bureaus are created for the general welfare to provide expert advice and guidance. Actually, in the case of the ICC a group of powerful insiders has complete control of rail and water systems worth roughly twenty-six billions. This clique fixes half a million freight rates in accordance with its own notion of a fair return on the value of transportation properties involved, quite regardless of the interests of small shippers. The discriminations and injustices practiced have led to the introduction of bills into Congress to relieve sectional groups. The president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen has charged that the clique, while fattening on war profits, would succeed ultimately, unless curbed, in extending our largest monopoly so that it would control the location of industries and markets and determine even the shifting of populations.
In theory, the ICC fixes freight rates. In fact, they are fixed by rate associations, or by member executives who are insiders, although such associations are illegal under the antitrust laws. The gravitational pull of the huge aggregation of capital in the monopoly has made the agency set up to regulate it subservient to it. The commerce commissioners are the pawns of the clique.
That tug of capital, which draws within its orbit the bureaus organized to control it, has operated on more than one of them. The conservation commission, for example, originally meant to regulate lumbermen, was dominated from the first by lumbermen. This was one of seventeen “fact-finding” bureaus created by Herbert Hoover when he was President. Congress meanwhile set up ten others. Mr. Hoover’s included an Advisory Committee on Illiteracy, which was ridiculed by the American Federation of Teachers; the London Naval Conference Delegation, which drew protests alike from military officers and peace organizations; the Special Committee for the Study of Education in Haiti, where there did not appear to be much education to study; the California Water Commission; and the San Francisco Bridge Commission. Congressional labors brought, among others, a commission on the 1,000th Anniversary of the Althing, the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission, and the Battle of Monongahela Commission.
Mr. Hoover’s Research Commission on Social Trends, intended to co-ordinate the activities of State and Federal agencies, was incorporated in Delaware, that hospitable sponsor of capitalist enterprise, and boasted a Board of Directors. The present Office of Price Administration, bears also the distinction of incorporation in Delaware. Even the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Trade Commission, dealing respectively with banking and business, managed to worry along without this formality.
The trade commission was created in 1914 to administer the Sherman Antitrust Act, and has exercised all three governmental functions. Appeals from its decisions are not to the executive branch, where industrial and commercial lobbies wield great influence, but to the courts. It acts both as prosecutor and judge, and has been called “a Federal Paul Pry.” Charges have been made more than once that it was “packed.” It publishes charges against business firms before proving them, just as indictments are made known before trial. Singularly, it came into being at the instance of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, whose directors hoped it would be a shining light in the shadowland of consolidation and co-operation between trade associations. This hope was doomed to bitter disappointment. The attitude of those to the left, who wished it to be a thorn in the side of Big Business, came nearer justification, but neither side was satisfied. It is difficult to see, however, what means we would have of administering the Sherman and Clayton acts without it, or how we could supervise the export associations.
Another gadfly for Big Business is the Securities and Exchange Commission, with ten regional offices and branch offices in some of the administrative zones. Under the act creating it and three supplementary measures it has been embarrassingly inquisitive about utility holding companies, the issue and sale of stocks and bonds, unfair business practices, and trading in securities. It demands, and makes public, information, formerly reserved for the elite, about the management and financial condition of corporations. It has dealt unfeelingly with bucket shops and with those who resort to “sell and switch” devices. More than a thousand swindlers have been convicted through its action and as many more enjoined from violating the law.
President Roosevelt told a press conference not long ago that there was a definite undercover effort afoot to do away with the SEC, but he refused to commit himself as to what elements were at work. They would like, he said, to get back to the good old days of the twenties, to what was known during the Harding Administration as “normalcy.” They didn’t like the SEC, he added, because it protects hoi polloi, and he advanced the astonishing statement that most of the people belong to hoi polloi.
Mr. Roosevelt is above all an adroit politician and he may have chosen this way of announcing that he foresaw a forthcoming purgation and laundering of his beloved bureaucracy. If so, he picked a poor peg, for the SEC is unlikely, even in the most vigorous housecleaning, to go into the garbage can. Probably no other agency has been so frequently applauded. To abolish it would alienate millions of voters and divulge too clearly the character of those in power.
As for the Office of Price Administration, it and its 172 advisory committees have been a thorn in the side of everybody, from ditchdigger to Dives. Its regulations run past eleven million words and fill five bulky volumes. Every once in so often they are altered or amended. It has a paid-in capital of one hundred millions and can issue bonds, notes, and debentures not to exceed $2,650,000,000. It has made loans on barley, butter, corn, cotton, dates, figs, sorghum, peanuts, prunes, soybeans, tobacco, wheat, wool, and what not.
Price fixing has never proved quite successful When Diocletian made himself dictator of Rome, he tried to stem an inflation, which he ascribed to profiteering, by an edict putting a ceiling on prices and wages. He named hundreds of articles and types of service and established maximum salaries all the way from the barber to the teacher of Greek. The penalty for evasion was death. Yet evasions were so frequent that the attempt at enforcement meant more and more inspectors and spies, until a contemporary said that half the men of the empire were on Diocletian’s payroll. Even so, the effort failed. Business men closed their shops; commodities grew scarcer and scarcer; there were food riots and scores of executions.
The OPA, as an incorporated Diocletian, enraged the housewife when it required her to ration coffee, and then confessed that, owing to lack of storage space, it might become necessary to burn or dump part of the supply. It was just as inept about sugar. It ran afoul of the landlord when it undertook rent control. A high real estate executive warned that rent control had caused the downfall of France. And it was continually stepping on the toes of the Food Administration, the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Agricultural Marketing Administration, the Farm Security Administration, or some other neighbor.
With bureaucratic toes all over the lot, it was wellnigh impossible for any commissioner to move without bringing a yelp from some other, and how the Secretary of the Interior could avoid stepping on his own toes was a mystery. Harold L. Ickes, as of July 1, last, was the centipede of the Administration. Aside from his Cabinet post, he was Federal Coal Mine Administrator, Solid Fuels Administrator for War, Petroleum Administrator for War, Co-ordinator of Fisheries, National Fish Director, Chairman of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, Supervisor of the Administration of the Government of the Virgin Islands, Supervisor of the Administration of the Government of Puerto Rico, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Virgin Islands Company, Chairman of the National Power Policies Committee, Chairman of the Capital Auditorium Commission, Supervisor of the Government Railroad of the Territory of Alaska, Supervisor of the Alaska Road Commission, Director of the National Bituminous Coal Commission, Chairman of the National Park Trust Fund Board; and a member of the War Production Board, the Smithsonian Institution, the United States Council of National Defense, the National Archives Council, the Board of Directors of the Canal Zone Biological Area, the National Forest Reservation Commission, and the Liaison Committee on War Relocation.
Mr. Roosevelt asked that inter-bureaucratic squabbles be kept from public notice, but the Battle of Washington has raged almost without intermission since the fall of France. It began with the conversion of industry to war production, but a frontal assault by adorers of the status quo was thrown back with heavy losses. It was continued with a three-cornered engagement between the army and navy, industry, and lend-lease over supplies of metals, rubber, oil, foodstuffs, and manpower. The appointment of “czars” in this field and that did not abate the carnage. Press-agentry exercised sometimes a pull stronger than the President’s vast Constitutional authority.
Bureaucratic press-agentry and red tape made their demands upon the dwindling supplies of paper. As for red tape, the president of a large corporation has said that during twelve months his concern received twenty-four thousand questionnaires to fill out and return to Washington. “Roughly,” he added, “that means about ninety-six a day. The cost of answering them was $195,000 in 1942, equivalent to twenty-two and one-half cents a share on [our] common stock.”
Meanwhile, Washington’s demand was mounting for paper on which to emit publicity material. A Republican Representative told the House that the press was being choked with it. “Three thousand two hundred government publicity agents,” he thundered, “still flood the country with handouts on every conceivable subject under the sun, that end up in newspaper waste baskets. Most of them serve no useful purpose whatever. They only add to the country’s available supply of waste paper.”
That statement was made after, not during, the debate about abolishing the domestic branch of the Office of War Information. The Senate would not agree to this drastic step, but did assist in crippling the whole agency by giving it a niggardly appropriation, which brought still another resignation from the ranks of its subordinate chieftains. As holder of the purse strings, Congress can strangle any bureau at any time, and already has thrown some of them into limbo.
An inexpert organization, Congress harbors inveterate suspicion of experts. More than a quarter of a century ago it began investigating this bureau and that. Its recent inquiry into the Federal Communications Commission was open from the first to the gravest doubt, as the chairman of the committee at work was clearly animated by malice. But that a fair-minded examination would contribute to the health of the body politic seems obvious. The stumbling block is that politics will seldom work in harness with fairness.
Thus, in putting a quietus on the National Youth Administration, some members of Congress were animated by undisguised resentment because Mrs. Roosevelt had manifested a warm personal interest in the organization. It might have been argued impartially that the bureau had outlived its usefulness, With but 53,000 boys and girls enrolled, it was asking for an appropriation of fifty-nine million and for a staff of nearly 12,000 persons. But the charge was that its influence was Communistic.
Set up in 1935 within the Works Progress Administration, a favorite target of critics, the NYA was transferred four years later to the Federal Security Agency. Its praiseworthy purpose was to train students and out-of-school young folk in welding, aviation, mechanics, machineshop work, joinery, pattern-making, and other activities useful in the war effort, In 1942 it trained more than 342,000, and in all more than four and one-half million persons came under its wing. The money was well spent.
The strangling of the NYA was accomplished mainly by those who didn’t like Mrs. Roosevelt. Here and there the demise of the bureau brought odd repercussions. At Sloss-field, near Birmingham, for example, there was a laundry which attended to the work of all NYA units in this area, plus that of a maternity hospital and two health clinics. It had on hand more than seven tons of soiled and “wet wash” laundry, and the manager explained that he could not hire any outsider to do the work, under the regulations, nor permit any other Federal agency to undertake it. Health authorities who wished to recruit laborers were brushed aside necessarily. The owners of seven tons of laundry had to get it and attend to it themselves.
The Works Progress Administration, of which NYA was a unit, became the Work Projects Administration in 1939, but was discontinued by the President with an explanation that unemployment had been so reduced that “a national work-relief program is unnecessary”; even campaigns by telephone had failed to recruit enough jobless persons to make continuance worth while.
Some of us are old enough to remember the lifted eyebrows which greeted William Jennings Bryan’s proposal that bank deposits be insured. Surely our midwestern Utopian thought of nothing more wild-eyed than this I Heresies, however, have a way of becoming respectable in retrospect. Here is the New Deal insuring deposits without a blush. It is now revealed that between 1934 and 1942 uninsured savings and loan associations throughout this country lost two and three-quarter billions in assets, while insured associations were gaining nearly two billions; and the commissioner of the Home Owners’ Loan Association, the Federal Home Loan and Bank Association, and other such agencies asserts that the guaranty of bank desposits and of share-thrift accounts averted a panic when runs started just after we entered the war. In this field a bureau based on a sound policy proved its merit.
Your Uncle Sam not only insures deposits and thrift accounts; he is also the world’s biggest writer of casualty insurance, with liabilities of more than one hundred and twenty-four billions. His receipts in premiums have amounted, in one year of operation, to one hundred and thirty millions with claims of but sixty-three. But this is the fortune of war. An enemy raid might make a heavy drain on his resources. More than half his risks are concentrated—although he insures all—in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. In the State of New York alone his liabilities are twenty-two billions.
Soon after Pearl Harbor the War Insurance Corporation was created as a subsidiary of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to insure against loss by enemy attacks, and ambled along without charging premiums until the War Damage Corporation was erected. It was plain that private companies, although their riches were immense, could not meet the emergency. They themselves saw this and co-operated with the government. More than 600 fire and casualty companies now have a limited participation in Uncle Sam’s profits and losses. The New York Herald Tribune, none too friendly to the bureaucracy, has noted that “the War Damage Corporation clearly belongs among the more successful of our war-time institutions.”
Other successful agencies, some of them much older, have their quota of experts, such as the Bureau of Standards, which we could not well do without. We need experts also to pass on building, the chemical constituents of food, radio wave lengths, tariffs, aviation, utilities, safety and sanitary devices. Instead of bringing suit against a neighbor for maintaining a nuisance which endangers our health, we report the matter to the proper bureau. Health commissions go back to Tudor times, and during the reign of Henry the Eighth there was a Statute of Sewers, authorizing the commissioners to make regulations and assessments. London sewers in that day were open ditches, just as the so-called sewers of ancient Nineveh and Babylon were. The celebrated cloaca maxima, which still stands, served but to drain the Roman forum. The fabled palace of Louis XIV was indescribably filthy, and until the middle of the nineteenth century the cities of Europe and this country were subject to epidemics of typhus and cholera. Until the last quarter of the last century Philadelphia had 82,000 cesspools, and at the beginning of this century most of our cities had twice as much street mileage as sewer mileage. Sanitation is a recent achievement. We needed effective bureaus in this field and didn’t have them.
Private organizations, commercial, scientific, and social, tend to adopt bureaucratic methods, chiefly through committees, but I shall not attempt to trace the benefits and evils flowing from them. Confining myself to the governmental phenomenon as we see it now, I have been able to mention but a few and have passed by such conspicuous examples as the Social Security Board (another of Uncle Sam’s insurance agencies), the National Labor Relations Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bureau of Economic Warfare, the several housing commissions, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Maritime Commission, to name a handful. Not only their “directives” but their titles and functions are frequently changed, and as they are designated usually in the daily press by the initials indicating them, the hierarchy deepens the general confusion by an alphabetical hodgepodge.
A chart of Washington organizations, helpfully prepared by the Office of War Information, offered a beguiling simplicity. It listed but twenty-five emergency agencies, whereas when the chart reached the public there were scores. Not even the Office of Censorship, a lusty son of the OWI, was set down. It must be conceded that during warfare some censorship is imperative; but when it is carried to a point at which our first news of stirring developments comes from London, as has happened more than once, many suspect that a sensible precaution has been stupidly exaggerated. The Office of Censorship, however, although still a babe by the calendar, has got to find something for its personnel to do. It employs more than 16,000 persons, and planned this year to spend $27,500,000; Congress cut this down a trifle.
In six months last year the parent bureau (OWI) spent more than two millions on communications alone. Senator Harry F. Byrd, head of a committee looking into the prodigality of our bureaucrats, observed that another agency, if it had been minded to spend that sum on communication, “could put in hourly three-minute calls to the moon, 221,463 miles away, every hour of the day, every day of the year.” The Senator might well have taken into account that if rates through rarefied lunar spaces were lower, and if the Man in the Moon were loquacious, the conversations might be prolonged.
Elmer Davis, head of the OWI, who has been more persistently bedeviled than most of his fellows, told the Newspaper Guild in Boston that in most daily journals “Washington bureaucrat is a term of abuse; and Washington has become a symbol of muddle, confusion, and bickering.” He said, also, referring obviously to the McCormick-Patterson newspaper axis, that “their attacks on bureaucracy are only a minor phase of what appears to be a carefully planned and assiduously executed policy, which, whatever its attitude toward our war effort, often seems actuated by a greater hostility to some of our allies than to some of our enemies.” Muddle, confusion, and bickering, he thought, were characteristic of the capitals of our allies and our enemies alike.
To assert that the more obvious faults of our bureaucracy “are characteristic of most human activity at all times and all places,” as Mr. Davis asserted, is downright disingenuous. They are not characteristic of the Bureau of Standards. They are not characteristic of some of our industries, of social research, of the Red Cross. But anyone who attempts to champion the Washington Goliath is likely to meet his David. It goes for the most part undefended, like sin and mayhem.
“A bureaucracy,” said Bagehot, “is sure to think that its duty is to augment official power, official business, or official numbers, rather than to leave free the energies of mankind.” Even in 1867, when “The English Constitution” was published, that was true. Abroad, some bureaucracies had managed to perpetuate themselves, some had become hereditary. But it is unlikely that Bagehot could have dreamed that the dutiful impulse to augment official power, business, and numbers would bring such a fruition as we observe. When agencies die naturally or are killed, new ones proliferate.
The United States Government now owns more than one-fifth of all the manufacturing enterprises in this country, and has invested more than fifteen billions in them; it controls the bulk of our merchant marine, many warehouses, and has a stake in ninety per cent of our aviation. Its aluminum interests are greater than the total of plants privately owned. The banks are little more than its catspaws.
In such circumstances the insolence and arrogance of office increase. Underlings in Washington scorn to reply to puzzled and anxious inquirers. Complaints get lost or are ignored. The President’s personal secretaries tend to become like other bureaucrats. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been likened to the Gestapo and has been rebuked by the Supreme Court for violating civil liberties.
If there is a disposition even on the part of elected officials to be insolent, the tendency is the likelier in the members of governmental boards, who are appointed and need not answer at the polls for their errors if they make them. Their practices are poles apart from the competitive system, idolized by business men big and little and by their satellites. It is an irony of our capitalist economy that those who are loudest in their praise of rugged individualism are most given to the mergers, price-fixing, combinations, and monopolies which stifle competition. One of the latest spokesmen for unbridled business is Edgar M. Queeny, author of “The Spirit of Enterprise.”
“The only difference that can be found between the American economic and spiritual climate and that of other nations of the world,” Mr. Queeny tells us, “was the inalienable right of Americans of freedom to pursue happiness without interference from the State. This the American Constitution guaranteed the American people.”
Our revered Constitution guarantees nothing of the sort. But it is not surprising to find it appended as a sort of rider to a eulogy of laissez faire, nor to learn that free enterprise has glorified our “spiritual climate.” For my part, I am not sure that this system is better than bureaucracy. I can think of no bureau more offensive, for example, than the Aluminum Company. Either system, carried to extreme, makes I a mockery of freedom, and is a threat to the integrity of the ballot. Both of them thwart republican processes.
We entertain a tradition that this is “a government of laws, not men.” The phrase, first used by Aristotle, was picked up by Harrington in “The Commonwealth of Oceana” (which influenced the Founding Fathers) and it appears in the preamble to the Massachusetts Constitution. The notion, of course, is absurd, because even a totalitarian government; embraces both men and laws. The Founding Fathers would have preferred that the men be ofsuperior intelligence and breeding, of a kind far removed from most of our bureaucrats. I
To a large extent, regulations and “directives” have supplanted laws. Congress, reduced to passing enabling acts and authorizing funds, still takes the bit between its teeth on occasion. When the President sent to it the far-sighted report of the National Resources Planning Board, to provide social security from the cradle to the tomb, and asked for full and prompt consideration, the response was abolition of the board. On The Hill, and especially in the Senate, there is strong opposition to planning for the poor.
Resigning as head of the OPA, Prentiss M. Brown said its “main task from now on is administrative.” He should have known that administration, which is the application of a policy or general principles to actualities, is the principal weakness of bureaus. Attempting to exercise authority in vital areas, they have betrayed ignorance and befuddlement.
Many members of Congress suppose that our monster bureaucracy is a product solely of the New Deal. The fact is that the increasing incompetence of the competitive system to deal with emergency situations has made it necessary to transfer authority more and more to amorphous commissions, sometimes cooked up on the spur of the moment, seldom well equipped for their tasks, and often unaware of their responsibilities or unwilling to acknowledge them. They have grown too fast and sprawled too far to be assimilated in the established political order. We have witnessed a political revolution.
Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, delivering a Lincoln’s Day address in 1931, thought the power of the bureaus already in existence of “enormous consequence;” he warned that their new methods “put us to new tests, and the serious question of the future is whether we have enough of the old spirit which gave us our institutions to keep them from being overwhelmed.”
About that time an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court told me: “Our greatest curse is bigness.”
“But,” I protested, “that is what we most adore.”
“I know, I know. But in fact our bigness brings up problems so vast that no human being can cope with them. No high executive in this country is equal to the complexity of his work or can exert to the full his personal powers.”
The scale of our bigness and the inadequacy of private enterprise have caused the Administration to shift most of the vast services which fell to it onto the shoulders of a huge collection of alphabetical agencies, which grow by what they feed on and voraciously include in their fodder State as well as individual rights. The challenge must be met. Abroad, this country is already active with others of the United Nations in relief and reconstruction, without waiting for vic-tory to begin the good work. We need not wait in Washington. Relief and reconstruction mean a counter-revolution against bureaucracy to safeguard the republican order which it has corrupted and re-establish our political institutions.