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WE so often think of corruption as a feature of "practical politics" that we forget that it is a much broader phenomenon. Political corruption is only a symptom of a condition far too prevalent in all branches of our national life. The author aims to analyze the nature of these conditions and to show the far-reaching character of the task which thorough-going ...
WE so often think of corruption as a feature of "practical politics" that we forget that it is a much broader phenomenon. Political corruption is only a symptom of a condition far too prevalent in all branches of our national life. The author aims to analyze the nature of these conditions and to show the far-reaching character of the task which thorough-going reformers must set themselves.
The first two chapters of the work. Apologies for Political Corruption and the Nature of Political Corruption have already become known to those interested in political science through magazine publication. After the definition of the field of the work in these two preliminary studies there follows an analysis of the reasons why corruption is so persistent a by-product of political and social life. A brief review of the history of corruption from the Greeks to Pepys, Tweed and our present-day offenders shows that, though the evil is still with us, its forms have become less and less dangerous. In spite of the fact that the methods of the modern corruptionist often show skill little short of genius, Mr. Brooks believes that the evil is gradually being driven into fields less profitable to exploit. Not even Chris. Magee, former boss of Pittsburgh, could now declare that a "ring could be made as safe as a bank," and it cannot be said that "the people will never kick on a ten per cent rake-off." National, state and municipal governments represent decreasing grades of success in the fight for clean government, but in every branch conditions are, on the average, far better than a generation ago.
A chapter on corruption in the professions brings out strong contrasts, especially in the opinions as to the effect of money influence on the press and on educational institutions through acceptance of "tainted money." Mr. Brooks concludes that no great danger threatens from this quarter since the improper use of money in the professions must destroy the people's confidence in those influenced and hence bring the defeat of its own ends. The most insidious forms of corruptions, and those which do most to debauch public opinion are those which appear in the world of business. Such abuses tend to leave the economic field and become a menace to the state itself. Government regulation, though its mistakes be frequent, must be our reliance here to an ever greater extent, and the government servants must be kept from forsaking the service for that of the great business organizations by adequate salaries and a general recognition of their service to the public.
Finally, how shall political corruption itself be kept down? Here, too, the machinery of the state must be called upon to regulate who may make contribution for political purposes, how much may be contributed and how the money may be spent. Other forms of corrupt reward, such as those connected with the patronage must be uprooted by an efficient civil service system supplemented by civil pensions.
A detailed exposition of the subject treated cannot be expected in a book of this size. In fact that is the greatest criticism of the discussion - that there is not more of it, but no one will read its pages without getting a clearer idea of what clean government means.