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efficiency do they consign further duties, but to the negligent and blundering agent. Private enterprise has done much, and done it well. Private enterprise has cleared, drained, and fertilized the country, and built the townshas excavated mines, laid out roads, dug canals, and embanked railways—has invented, and brought to perfection, ploughs, looms, steam-engines, printing-presses, and machines innumerable—has built our ships, our vast manufactories, our docks—has established banks, insurance societies, and the newspaper press—has covered the sea with lines of steam-vessels, and the land with electric telegraplis. Private enterprise has brought agriculture, manufactures, and commerce to their present height, and is now developing them with increasing rapidity. Therefore, do not trust private enterprise. On the other hand, the State so fulfils its protective function as to ruin many, delude others, and frighten away those who most need succour; its national defences are so extravagantly and yet inefficiently administered, as to call forth almost daily complaint, expostulation, or ridicule; and as the nation's steward, it obtains from some of our vast public estates a minus revenue. Therefore, trust the State. Slight the good and faithful servant, and promote the unprofitable one from one talent to ten.
Seriously, the case, while it may not, in some respects, warrant this parallel, is, in one respect, even stronger. For the new work is not of the same order as the old, but of a more difficult order. Badly as government discharges its true duties, any other duties committed to it are likely to be still worse discharged. To guard its subjects against aggression, either individual or national, is a straightforward and tolerably simple matter; to regulate, directly or indirectly, the personal actions of those subjects is an infinitely complicated matter. It is one thing to secure to each man the unhindered power to pursue his own good; it is a
CLASSIFICATION OF STATE FUNCTIONS.
widely different thing to pursue the good for him. To do the first efficiently, the State has merely to look on while its citizens act; to forbid unfairness; to adjudicate when called on; and to enforce restitution for injuries. To do the last efficiently, it must become an ubiquitous worker -must know each man's needs better than he knows them himself—must, in short, possess superhuman power and intelligence. Even, therefore, had the State done well in
. its proper sphere, no sufficient warrant would have existed for extending that sphere; but seeing how ill it has discharged those simple offices which we cannot help consigning to it, small indeed is the probability of its discharging well offices of a more complicated nature.
Change the point of view however we may, and this conclusion still presents itself. If we define the primary State-duty to be, protecting each individual against others; then, all other State action comes under the definition of protecting each individual against himselfagainst his own stupidity, his own idleness, his own improvidence, rashness, or other defect—his own incapacity for doing something or other which should be done. There is no questioning this classification. For manifestly all the obstacles that lie between a man's desires and the satisfaction of them, are either obstacles arising from other men's counter desires, or obstacles arising from inability in himself. Such of these counter desires as are just, have as much claim to satisfaction as his;
and may not, therefore, be thwarted. Such of them as are unjust, it is the State's duty to hold in check. The only other possible sphere for it, therefore, is saying the individual from the results of his own weakness, apathy, or foolishness-warding off the consequences of his nature; or, as we say-protecting him against himself. Making no comment, at present, on the policy of this, and confining ourselves solely to the practicability of it, let us inquire how the proposal looks when reduced to its simplest form. Here are men endowed with instincts, and sentiments, and perceptions, all conspiring to self-preservation. Each of these faculties has some relationship, direct or indirect, to personal well-being. The due action of each brings its quantum of pleasure; the inaction, its more or less of pain. Those provided with these faculties in due proportions, prosper and multiply; those ill-provided, unceasingly tend to die out. And the general success of this scheme of human organization is seen in the fact, that under it the world has been peopled, and by it the complicated appliances and arrangements of civilized life have been developed.
It is complained, however, that there are certain directions in which this apparatus of motive works but imperfectly. While it is admitted that men are duly prompted by it to bodily sustenance, to the obtainment of clothing and shelter, to marriage and the care of offspring, and to the establishment of the more important industrial and commercial agencies; it is yet argued that there are many desiderata, as.pure air, more knowledge, good water, safe travelling, and so forth, which it does not duly achieve. And these short-comings being assumed permanent, and not temporary, it is urged that some supplementary means must be employed. It is therefore proposed that out of the mass of men thus imperfectly endowed, a certain number, constituting the legislature, shall be instructed to secure these various objects. The legislators thus instructed (all characterized, on the average, by the same defects in this apparatus of motives as men in general), being unable personally to fulfil their tasks, must fulfil them by deputy -must appoint commissions, boards, councils, and staffs of officers; and must construct their agencies of this same defective humanity that acts so ill. Why now should this system of complex deputation succeed where the system
GOVERNMENTS WORKING BY DEPUTY.
of simple deputation does not? The industrial, commercial, and philanthropic agencies, which citizens form spontaneously, are directly deputed agencies; these governmental agencies made by electing legislators who appoint officers, are indirectly deputed ones. And it is hoped that, by this process of double deputation, things may be achieved which the process of single deputation will not achieve. What, now, is the rationale of this hope? Is it that legislators, and their employés, are made to feel more intensely than the rest these evils they are to remedy, these wants they are to satisfy ? Hardly; for by position they are mostly relieved from such evils and wants. Is it, then, that they are to have the primary motive replaced · by a secondary motive—the fear of public displeasure, and ultimate removal from office ? Why, scarcely; for the minor benefits which citizens will not organize to secure directly, they will not organize to secure indirectly, by turning out inefficient servants: especially if they cannot readily get efficient ones. Is it, then, that these Stateagents are to do, from a sense of duty, what they would not do from any other motive ? Evidently this is the only possibility remaining. The proposition on which the advocates of much government have to fall back, is, that things which the people will not unite to effect for personal benefit, a law-appointed portion of them will unite to effect for the benefit of the rest. Public men and functionaries love their neighbours better than themselves! The philanthropy of statesmen is stronger than the selfishness of citizens !
No wonder, then, that every day adds to the list of legislative miscarriages. If colliery explosions increase, notwithstanding the appointment of coal-mine inspectors, why it is but a natural moral to these false hypotheses. If Sunderland shipowners complain that, as far as tried, . “the Mercantile Marine Act has proved a total failure;"
and if, meanwhile, the other class affected by it-the sailors-show their disapprobation by extensive strikes; why it does but exemplify the folly of trusting a theorizing benevolence rather than an experienced self-interest. On all sides we may expect such facts; and on all sides we find them. Government, turning engineer, appoints its lieutenant, the Sewers' Commission, to drain London. Presently Lambeth sends deputations to say that it pays heavy rates, and gets no benefit. Tired of waiting, Bethnal-green calls meetings to consider the most effectual means of extending the drainage of the district.” From Wandsworth come complainants, who threaten to pay no more until something is done. Camberwell proposes to raise a subscription and do the work itself. Meanwhile, no progress is made towards the purification of the Thames; the weekly returns show an increasing rate of mortality; in Parliament, the friends of the Commission have nothing save good intentions to urge in mitigation of censure; and, at length, despairing ministers gladly seize an excuse for quietly shelving the Commission and its plans altogether.* As architectural surveyor, the State has scarcely succeeded better than as engineer; witness the Metropolitan Buildings' Act. New houses still tumble down from time to time. A few months since two fell at Bayswater, and one more recently near the Pentonville Prison: all notwithstanding prescribed thicknesses, and noop-iron band, and inspectors. It never struck those
* So complete is the failure of this and other sanitary bodies, that, at the present moment (March, 1854), a number of philanthropic gentlemen are voluntarily organizing a “Health Fund for London,” with the view of meeting the threatened invasion of the Cholera ; and the plea for this purely private enterprise, is, that the Local Boards of Health and Boards of Guardians are inoperative, from “ignorance, 1st, of the extent of the danger ; 2d, of the means which experience has discovered for meeting it ;,
; and 3d, of the comparative security which those mcans may produce."