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No textbook could mention more than the smallest fraction of the activities of the communities of the United States nor of the different kinds of help that they secure through government. But there are certain things that most communities do through government, and the machinery for accomplishing these is much the same everywhere. Because the community is closer to most of us than the state or the nation we need to study it with special care, and shall give to it a whole chapter later.
30. The People and their Government. Sometimes the people get impatient and let themselves be deceived into believing that the government does not really represent the needs and wishes of the workers. Government, because it represents large numbers of people, can be changed only slowly, but whenever we look back we can see that it has changed slowly but surely as the people have wished it to change. Several years ago the department of labor in a Western state sent letters to thousands of the workers, asking this question, "What in your opinion should be done to improve your trade?” Here are a few of the answers :
1. Prohibiting the manufacture and sale of liquor.
3. Especially close the saloons on Sunday so that the
4. A compulsory-education law.
7. Do not pass any more laws until all those now exist-
8. A law which will get children out of the shop so that they may receive an education.
9. Restriction of the use of machinery in all branches of labor.
We already have a Federal amendment which prohibits the manufacture and sale of liquor. Every state now has a compulsory-education law. Many of the states have laws to prevent child labor. All the states have already done something to shorten hours of labor. Most of the states require government inspection of steam boilers. It would be unfortunate, of course, if many men were as ignorant as to want what the writers of answers 7 and 9 said they wanted. Nevertheless, if enough people in the United States wanted "a law to pass no more laws" until those now existing could be executed, and a law restricting the use of machinery in all branches of labor, such laws would be passed.
Whether in the future years our democracy becomes a success or a failure depends on the people who make the laws and choose the officials. There is no magic in the word "democracy”; the only magic that any nation possesses lies in the ideals of its people.
PROBLEMS AND EXERCISES
1. Read the chapter through as a whole before studying it by sections. Outline the whole, but do not use the headings of the text.
2. Define organization; contract; agreement; constitution.
3. Bring to class a copy of a deed of sale or some business contract. If you cannot do this, draw up for yourself a contract of employment between yourself and some firm or person for whom you should like to work. Read the first several paragraphs of the Constitution, at the back of this book, and of your state constitution, and show how these are business contracts.
4. If your state history includes a copy of the charter of one of the early colonies, study this as a work document and discuss it in class.
5. Tell how and why the national government was formed. When and how were your state and community governments formed?
6. Turn to your history and read the account of the Bill of Rights and the Articles of Confederation. What could these not accomplish?
7. Compile in your civics notebook a numbered list of all the paragraphs in the Constitution that come under the five headings on page 83. Make a similar list from your state constitution.
8. Under each item set down some recent laws passed by Congress and the state legislature to carry out these helps.
9. On pages 79-81 of text a list of the ten official departments of the national government is given. In addition to these there are a number of separate boards and commissions. Those which were active in 1923 are given below. In the latest copy of the Congressional Directory you will find all departments, bureaus, and commissions listed and their duties and powers given. Copy these in your loose-leaf notebook and in connection with each fill in the data indicated by the following headings:
10. At least one lesson should be given up to discussing your state constitution and its amendments. The teacher will assign different topics to different members of the class : 1. When was your first state constitution made? It is not necessary to
remember the year, but keep in mind how long ago it was drawn up. 2. Has it been revised ? If so, what kind of changes were made ? 3. If you live in a state that was one of the original thirteen states, find out
something about the state's first charter. 4. Copy down the sentences that indicate that the constitution is an agree
ment which the people have made with themselves. 5. Outline briefly what the constitution says about (1) governor; (2) edu
cation; (3) county government; (4) city government. 11. Take a week's issue of a large city daily newspaper and cut out all items which refer to laws or to government departments or officials that concern work life. Discuss these in class.
12. Find out whether your state has laws dealing with such small matters as size of bricks.
13. Analyze the work day of some member of your family or of some friend who works for a living and show (1) what part each person has to do unaided, (2) what part is helped by what some private organization does, (3) what part the government helps.
14. What is private property ? Explain that unless this is protected by government, all other government helps are wasted.
15. What property does your family own? Think out the different ways in which this is protected from theft and destruction by government.
16. Show how changes in laws affecting work life can be made if the people are patient.
17. The following is a list of the principal state officials, boards, and commissions of one state. Secure a copy of the latest state manual issued by your state, and from this compile a corresponding list of the officials, boards, and commissions. Copy these in your loose-leaf notebook, and against each write as fully as possible the information suggested by these headings (information can be obtained not only from the state manual but from the state constitution and special reports issued by the state):
18. What is the relation of the community to the state and the nation ?
19. Begin to search your local and state newspapers for items showing how often different towns and cities have to get permission from the state legislature to do certain things.
AMERICA A NATION OF HOMES
1. Home Life not Separate from Government. In the preceding chapters you have been reminded often that government exists for the sake of and as a result of two things-work life and home life. We have given more emphasis to the work side of the nation because it is only through this that home life is possible. But we shall get only a one-sided view of the American people unless we give a little special attention to the home.
2. Home is our Most Precious Possession. At the end of the World War the American Red Cross, in helping clear out the prison camps in Austria and Germany, found many Russian prisoners who could not tell the name of the town or province from which they came. When one of these was brought before the Red Cross major and was asked: "Who are you? Where is your home?" there was no answer. Even with the sympathetic help of the interpreter he could not seem to understand what they wanted him to say. But finally a slow smile spread over his sober face, and he spoke eagerly. The interpreter turned to the major, also with a smile, but a sad one: "He says he is Ivan, and he lives in a stone house by a big blue river.” That was all. He did not know Russia, but he did know home. This incident helped the American people understand the Russian peasant better than many pages of history.
3. Importance of the Right Kind of Home. Lack of the right kind homes always means disaster to a nation. In December, 1920, Senator William M. Calder announced in the Senate at Washington that "there is a shortage of 1,000,000 dwellings in the United States today.” On the same day in a New York paper appeared a column headed WAVE OF CRIME SWEEPS OVER THE CITY