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148 Vassar College..
Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
156 Wesleyan University.
157 Western College for Women.
158 Western Reserve University
159 Western Theological Seminary. Allegheny, Pa..
160 Wheaton College
161 Williams College.
162 Wisconsin, University of
164 Yale University.
New Haven, Conn..
165 Yankton College.
Some Fundamental Municipal Needs in
HON. GEORGE W. GUTHRIE
A distinguished authority is reported to have said some time ago that the science of good government lies in the art of being honest. Now while we cannot overestimate the great importance which honesty has in all aspects of government, we should not for a moment believe that good government consists simply in being honest. It is an essential element of good government, but there is much more necessary. There must be intelligenceintelligence to appreciate the capacity of government, to aid in the uplift of humanity—intelligence to understand both what government can do and its proper limitations. There must be also a strong moral purpose to attain the ends and accomplish the objects for which our intelligence teaches us just governments exist, and capacity either to do the thing ourselves or to secure someone else who will do it well for us. These two things, joined with honesty, give good government. One alone, however good in itself, will accomplish but little.
And so when the committee asked me to speak to you tonight on "Some of the Fundamental Needs for Good Government in the Cities of Pennsylvania" my mind at once ran onto these lines:
"First we need in the people a knowledge of the meaning and significance of municipal government. Its proper place in our scheme of government, and its relation both to the people of the city and to the national life." Our cities have grown up here in a rapid way and largely in a haphazard way and there has grown up with it a very false conception of the proper place of municipal administration in our general system of government.
We have been taught from the legal standpoint-and speaking from the standpoint of the lawyer it is true that our city government is a subordinate function of the state government. Unfortunately we have grown into the habit of putting a very pernicious word into the statement, so as to make it read that the city is merely a subordinate function of the state government; and that has warped our minds-the minds of the people— as to the significance and the vital importance of our city govern
Now I think that misconception is being rapidly corrected. There is evidence all through this state, as in the country generally, that the people are awakening to the vital importance of their city governments to them, the state and the nation; that whatever their function may be as subordinate departments of the state government, they are also an expression of the aggregate life of the people who live within the city.
The city government is the agent of the people of the city in accomplishing that for their good which cannot be accomplished by any other agency which has yet been discovered; and its powerful influence in these fields cannot be overestimated.
Moreover, not only is it the expression of our aggregate life— of our moral standard-of our intellectual capacity-but it it is the mold in which the life of tomorrow is being run; and what we make of our city today will mold the life and destiny of the young people who will tomorrow take our places and rule the city. If the standard of our city is low-if the purpose of our city is debased-if low moral standards prevail in the government of our city-there is no human influence at work which will have as potent an influence on the moral standards of the young who are growing up under its influences.
A very great student of the life of this city and a close observer of it a man who is more in touch possibly with it than any other said to me that he did not know any influence which was so pernicious, which was so destructive to the moral sense of the young men of the city, as to impregnate them with the idea that there was no honesty, no honor, no uprightness in the city government or in the men who control it; that that idea,
when it took root among the young men, was almost impossible to counteract and overcome. And the reverse of it is true. Give them high standards-high ideals. Let them see that the men that you call to your offices-the men who represent the aggregate life of your community, its composite moral sentiment-represent a high ideal of life and decency and honor and honesty, and you will do more to influence the young men of this city for good than any other human agency can do.
The Need of High Standards
Now when our people looked upon the city as merely a subordinate function of the state government, the idea grew with them that the control of its political patronage to be used in strengthening the party organization and in rewarding the party worker-to encourage this man to stand by the leader-to give a job to the man who voted with the organization in the primary and at the convention-was a proper function of city government. Of course, because this idea is in itself corrupt, it gradually and certainly drew the standard of our city life lower and lower and if adhered to it is certain ultimately to reach the lowest depths.
Then we found another evil coming from that idea. The evil of bad city government is not and cannot be confined to the community involved. The debasing, the corrupting, influence of that idea in your city is spreading through your states, and from your states to your nation; and I want to say to you in all sincerity, that if disaster ever comes to this nation which we love, it will not come from without, but it will come from the degrading of the life of our cities and, through that, the life of the whole country, till it sinks to such a standard that that Providence that rules the world will wipe it away as an obstacle in the way of the growth and development of humanity. There is the only danger.
But the people of this country will never have that they will never permit that.
They are awakening to the evil and their duty in regard to it, and they are going to have their cities clean; and then the stream of political life that moves from their cities into
the national life will be clean like the source from which it springs.
And then, my friends, what more does your city government mean to you? I am not speaking of the wastefulness of money in a dishonest government. That is bad; and the loss of opportunity occasioned by it and the corrupting influences which flow from it, are bad. But there is worse. I refer to its effect on the life, the moral life and the physical life, of the people. The safety of your homes and your firesides from all sorts of evil influences, not merely from the robber and the thief but from corrupt moral influences, and from the disease which you cannot keep out of your house if you leave it rampant in your cities, depends upon your city governments.
If you would have your households safe from preventable diseases-if you would see your children grow to healthy manhood and womanhood-make the environment in which they live healthy. Why you know that typhoid fever which was for a generation epidemic in this city was no respecter of persons. It found its way into the most carefully and jealously guarded household, as it did into the households of the poor that were unable to afford any private means for protection. And when you think, too, of all those lives that have been wasted by that scourge that could and should have been driven out of this city as easily ten years ago as it is today, then you realize what bad city government means to you, not in your pockets alone, but in those thing which are nearest and dearest to every true man and woman in the city.
That is what good government means.
The Need of a
All infectious and preventable diseases can be controlled; but they must be controlled by the organized effort of the city. The power of the city is the only power that is sufficient to put into efficient operation those things which are necessary to stamp out such diseases.
Today I think the people of Pittsburgh can congratulate themselves that certainly in the great central district of the city and in a short time in the other sections too typhoid fever will be gone from our midst. Is it not plainly our duty to move forward? Can we stop now?