ePub 版
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

de slet


who has money to spend contributes his part toward the support of those who are employed to do the work. In general the head of each family contributes annually, directly or indirectly, to the governments of the United States, of his State, and of his local district more than he earns in a month.

3. The Cost of Government. -- The expenditures of our national government are now about $4,000,000,000 a year; those of our State, county, and district governments are more than $1,000,000,000; and organized villages, towns, and cities also spend more than $1,000,000,000 a year. Thus our various governments cost us about $6,000,000,000 a year, or an average of about $60 for each man, woman, and child in the United States. (See Secs. 79 and 246.) 4. How the Cost of Government is Borne.

- The cost of gove ernment is borne by individuals through taxation. Taxes are paid to the respective governments either directly or indirectly. If paid directly the owner of property pays the assessed amount of taxes to the collector directly, but if paid indirectly he pays it in the form of rent or in the purchase

price of articles that he consumes. To illustrate, the owner of ř a house usually pays a State tax, county tax, township tax (or

city tax if he lives in a city) directly to the officers of these governments; but in case a house is rented, although the owner of the house hands over the money to the tax collector, the renter really pays it, for the owner charges more rent than he would if he had no taxes to pay. (See Sec. 44.)

During the World War the United States raised most of its revenue by direct taxation, e.g. income taxes and excess profits taxes. In times of peace, however, the United States government finds it easier to collect its taxes indirectly: for example, the manufacturers of such articles as cigars, cigarettes, playing cards, and oleomargarine pay taxes to the United States government and then sell these products at a price high enough to enable them to pay the tax and earn a profit. The person who uses the articles really pays the tax. (See Sec. 45.)

[ocr errors]

Ý About two thousand articles imported into the United States

from foreign countries are also taxed by the United States. The importer pays the tax and then sells the articles at an advanced price; so the consumer is really the man who pays the tax.

5. Increased Cost of Government. — The cost of the national government increased from an average of $2 per capita for the decade just before the Civil War to $10 per capita for the decade just before the World War – fivefold. But the government so safeguarded the citizen, promoted science, protected property, and encouraged industry that the average estimated wealth per capita during the same period increased from $300 to $2000 — nearly sevenfold. So it was easier for the people of the United States to pay an average of $10 a person for the support of the national government before the World War than $2 before the Civil War. The present high taxes are a result of the war, and hence are temporary.

6. The Benefits of Government. Most people feel that they receive little in exchange for the amount of taxes which they pay, but if they would consider the innumerable benefits they derive from government they would support it cheerfully. Let us name and discuss briefly a few of the benefits of govern. ment.

(1) Government Enables Us to be Independent of Foreign Countries. - As soon as the thirteen American colonies declared themselves independent of England they established state governments in order to gain their independence. When the separation was acknowledged by the mother country each state was so small that it was in great danger of being seized by one of the European powers, and in order to secure their independence and have the European countries treat them as equals they were obliged to form a strong United States. To-day if it were not for the United States

navy your home and billions of dollars worth of property in cities on navigable streams might be blown to destruction by the guns of hostile powers, No individual could protect his own property against such attacks because the maintenance of an army and a navy costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

army and

[merged small][graphic][subsumed]


Of course these nations would not destroy our property without some cause, but the cause might be an unreasonable one.

(2) Government Protects our Property from Criminals. — If it were not for the sheriffs, constables, and policemen, persons who are known to carry large amounts of money would never be safe; indeed



carry any money would be in constant danger of being robbed. Furthermore, every night one would retire with the dread of being murdered for the few

pieces of silver in the house, and on getting up one would ř seldom find the bottle of milk which the milkman leaves at the door before daylight.

To-day if a crime is committed in your neighborhood, a policeman can be called by telephone, and if the criminal is not caught at once, news of the crime will flash to all nearby towns and cities. In some cities or thickly settled communities a thousand policemen can be notified in ten minutes. For

[ocr errors]

instance, if a crime is committed in Princeton, New Jersey, the police headquarters of Trenton (ten miles away) and other nearby cities are notified. The Trenton headquarters will flash a light in the police box on each policeman's beat, and every policeman will see the signal, go to the box, and learn the nature of the crime by telephone.

(3) Government Maintains Peace and Order. - In our early days a fist fight was the most persuasive argument in settling a political dispute, and if the parties involved held a social position which made a fist fight unbecoming a duel answered as well. To-day an officer is at hand to prevent a fight in any public place, and insults are commonly settled by libel or slander suits. When satisfactory courts exist to enforce the law, people of to-day frown upon those who attempt to settle their differences by physical force instead of resorting to the courts.

(4) Government Performs Functions Which Would be Unprofitable as Private Ventures. Individuals or companies would not find it profitable to perform any of the following functions in the large and accommodating manner in which our governments perform them.

(a) Protection to Health. The United States Public Health Service seeks to protect the civilian population of the country from disease. It conducts extensive investigations in child hygiene, industrial sanitation, and the protection of water supplies. It also investigates the causes of such diseases as typhoid fever, yellow fever, malaria, influenza, hookworm, pallagra, and trachoma, and the best methods to prevent them. This Service regulates the interstate traffic in vaccines, antitoxins, and viruses in order to insure their good quality; and closely coöperates with all State health agencies.

The Public Health Service Bureau maintains numerous quarantine stations in the United States. At Shanghai, Calcutta, Naples, Havana, and some thirty other important places in different parts of the world highly trained “health scouts” are stationed to watch for contagious diseases and keep the

1 The Army Medical Corps is responsible for the health of the fighting units on land and the Medical Corps of the United States Navy cares for the health of the fighting men while afloat.


Copyright, Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. IMMIGRANTS AT ELLIS ISLAND AWAITING PHYSICAL EXAMINATION. Immigrants with contagious diseases are put ashore at the quarantine station.

home office informed. American consuls who are stationed in some 500 leading cities of the world make written reports of health conditions to the Public Health Service in Washington and see that commodities from infected districts are not shipped to the United States. State and city health officers throughout the United States make like reports to this service.

From each week's accumulation of health reports of the world a bulletin is compiled and distributed to these numerous health and consular officers, so that they may know what disease to look for on a ship coming from a port where disease exists. Thus, if plague breaks out at Calcutta to-day the Washington authorities know it at once, and notify our chain of health police to guard the 17,000 miles of American coast line,

« 上一頁繼續 »