A Dangerous Example

Editorial in Success

Honesty in the performance of public duties is fully as important to the well-being of society as rectitude in private transactions. Corruption in high places is a demoralizing example for the youth of our land, who ought to be able to regard official station as one form of honorable success, and as the just reward of firm integrity and conspicuous ability. Unhappily, there is evidence too strong to be disregarded, that dishonesty is the rule, and not the exception, in the legislatures of some of our states, and that Congress itself is not free from the power of those who are willing to corrupt the very source of government.

Statute books, state and national, contain penalties for official bribe-taking, but these laws are largely dead letters; and in New York, the leading Commonwealth of the Union, almost any proposed enactment can be defeated or carried by money. Men go to Albany as legislators on a salary of fifteen hundred dollars a year, and accumulate fortunes. A New York daily newspaper has openly alleged that the ordinary cost of defeating or carrying a bill in committee is five hundred dollars a vote, and on the floor of the legislature, from two dollars and a half to five hundred dollars a vote. Every legislator who takes even one cent for voting, or abstaining from voting, is a criminal, and liable to severe punishment under the law. Yet few are punished, and the evil grows and flourishes under the stimulus of impunity and greed.

Dillon a Christian Scientist
March 23, 1899

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