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"Recovery, Relief and the Constitution" Speech of Jouett Shouse before the Beacon Society of Boston, December 8, 1934. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_7 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. "Recovery, Relief and the Constitution" Speech of Jouett Shouse before the Beacon Society of Boston, December 8, 1934. American Liberty League. American Liberty League. Washington, D.C. 1934. This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. Recovery, Relief and the Constitution Speech of JOUETT SHOUSE President, American Liberty League, Before the Beacon Society of Boston, Dec. 8, 1934 National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING Washington, D. C. Recovery, Relief and the Constitution â˜… It SEEMS peculiarly appropriate that here in the birthplace of the movement which resulted in the independence of the United States I am afforded the opportunity to explain the meaning and purposes of an organization designed to preserve and safeguard those rights and liberties won at such great cost more than a hundred and fifty years ago. Perhaps within the range of my voice there are descendants of the patriots who staged the famous Boston tea-party. If such be present it would be interesting to have their views as to what might be said by their ancestors who made so notable a protest against taxation without representation could those venerated shades be informed that in our country today an Executive official of the Federal Government is authorized by law to levy a tax upon one element of the population and to give its proceeds to another group. I make that observation not for the purpose of starting an argument as to the merits or demerits of specific laws which have been adopted to combat the economic depression, but merely to illustrate that during the past few years we have departed seriously from some of the most important American traditions. That departure is not confined to emergency laws enacted under the Roosevelt Administration. The movement has been under way for a number of years although strikingly it has been accentuated since the advent of the so-called NEW DEAL. The Constitu- I am frequently asked turn, and the Ten why lt was thouSht neces-tvon ana tne i en gary to fQrm an organiza. Commandments tion devoted to the protection and maintenance of the Constitution of the United States. My answer to that inquiry is another question. Why is it necessary to advocate observance of the Ten Commandments? So far as I know there is practical unanimity of public opinion in favor of continued adherence alike to the Constitution framed in Philadelphia by the founders of the Republic and to the laws handed down to Moses for the guidance of the Children of Israel. Nevertheless, numerous and influential sects are still actively advocating observance of the Ten Com-  mandments and I am unable to see any incongruity in the formation of a group to promote observance of the Constitution. In these strenuous days there is, I fear, too much of a disposition to regard the Constitution as something abstract and removed entirely from the affairs of everyday life. In real truth the Constitution is the living voice of American liberty. It is the shield of protection of the person, the home and the rights of the citizen. But the benefits derived from it have come to us of the present generation without struggle, and because we have not had to fight for what it confers we have at times seemed to esteem it lightly. Consciousness of the Constitution and of what it involves needs to be reawakened in the minds and hearts of the American people. This is not because of any need to preserve ancient forms or to re-enact ancient rituals. It is not merely because the Constitution is the vital force of freedom. Yet mightily because of that fact every American of this generation and of coming generations should be taught the part the overwhelming part that the Constitution must continue to play if governmental institutions as we know them and value them are to be preserved. Your Daily Perhaps it may be worth Life and the wfhi]Â£to Ie?f ^iefly ionf J of the outstanding effects Constitution of the Constitution upon everyday life. For purpose of illustration I am suggesting certain things which other governments can do and have done but which the government of the United States cannot do because of the protection which the Constitution affords to our citizenship. The Constitution prevents the Federal Government from establishing a state religion and taxing every citizen, regardless of his religious beliefs, for the upkeep of an established church. The Constitution prevents the Government from interfering with the right of any citizen to express his views on any public question. Were it not for such safeguard I might have to obtain the permission of a bureaucrat at Washington before I could address you here tonight. The Constitution prevents the Government from censoring the press. Otherwise the newspapers of Boston and the press associations might be precluded from disseminating any news of this meeting save on sufferance from a Federal official. These illustrations are neither fantastic nor  far-fetched. They are based upon the actual experience of other people under other forms of government within very recent years. Let me assure you that I am not attempting to suggest that those now charged with the administration of our Federal Government have any conscious or deliberate purpose of subverting the Constitution. I do not believe that such purpose exists in really responsible quarters. I do assert, however, that there is often the temptation among well-meaning men with a worthy objective in view, if you please, to become impatient of Constitutional restrictions and to seek, either in the writing or the enforcing of laws, to go palpably beyond Constitutional bounds. I assert further that one invasion of Constitutional rights leads inevitably to other invasions, and that if the liberties of the American people are to be continued and if the accepted form of the American Government is to be preserved these invasions must cease. I assert further that many present trends in governmental policy, particularly exemplified in some of the so-called emergency measures adopted during the past eighteen months, will, if unchecked, result in the creation of a huge Federal bureaucracy, practically irresponsible in its administration of public affairs. Indeed, in truth, such a situation may be said to exist today. The Renutr\dble It was once remarked by t a humorous philosopher Longevity of that â€žwe are J pore Â£rit. Bureaucracy ters." We must accept human nature as we find it and, that being so, you know as well as I that it is almost impossible to convince any public official that he should ever relinquish any power once granted him. Likewise it has been demonstrated times without number that once a Federal bureau is created, no matter how completely the need for its existence may pass, the task of abolishing it becomes the job of a superman. As an illustration today after a hundred and twenty years of uninterrupted peace along our Northern frontier we still have a Federal commission charged with the custody and care of the boundary between the United States and Canada. Could there be more striking instance of the longevity of official agencies once established? I take it that none will question that some of the measures adopted under pressure of recent emergency conditions contain very definite threats to the accepted rights and liberties of our citizens. Those of us who participated in the  establishment of the American Liberty League are convinced that the time has come to make a thorough, fearless and non-partizan survey of the fundamentals involved in present national policies. Parts of that survey are now under way. The results will begin to take definite form during the coming session of Congress. And in that connection it should be remembered that the next Congress will be called upon to make some very far-reaching decisions. Whether or not measures adopted as admittedly temporary expedients during the past few years were wise or not is an insignificant consideration as compared with the problem of what now must be done with the vast emergency bureaucracy that has been set up in Washington. "Legislation" The manner in which the bv Executive normal Processes of governor executive ment have been suppianted Decree by extraordinary methods is illustrated strikingly by a report presented to the last Convention of the American Bar Association by its Special Committee on Administrative Law. I quote from that report: "From March 4, 1933, to June 15, 1934, as nearly as can be calculated, the President approved 674 Executive Orders, aggregating approximately 1400 pages, of which many are a combination of several parts (as high as 15) and represent a number of separate orders. The total volume is, conservatively estimated, greater than the total of the preceding four-year period from March 1 1929, to March 4, 1933, during which 1004 orders were approved, most of them not having an important legislative character. Nearly six times as many Executive Orders have been issued during this period of 15 months as during the period 1862-1900, and 10 per cent of the total since 1862." I do not have complete figures as to the Executive Orders issued during the past six months, but it can be stated authoritatively that the number is not less than 180. What are these Orders? For the most part they are not perfunctory or unimportant documents. In many instances they are decrees having the force of law. In certain cases failure to obey them invokes severe penalty. Further illustrating the extent to which law making by Executive decree has supplanted normal methods of legislation, the same report declares:  "To June 16, 1934, the Administrator for Industrial Recovery had issued 2998 administrative orders, approving or modifying codes, providing for exceptions and exemptions therefrom, and covering a multitude of other activities of a legislative nature. Countless 'interpretations' of codes have been issued by the NRA and the many code authorities, of which there is no real record or indexing, or even any trustworthy source of information. Finally, and perhaps most astounding of all, the NRA has adopted numerous regulations and sets of regulations which are to be found scattered among 5991 press releases issued up to June 22, 1934, and the NRA staff itself has not segregated such press releases having a legislative effect from those of an informational or news character." Obey the Law, The same Committee Tf r-M^, estimated that the total IJ you can "legislative" output from Find it the NRA alone during the period covered by its report would exceed 10,000 pages of "law." The Committee commented aptly: "Under these circumstances not only citizens but even lawyers are helpless in any effort to ascertain the law applicable to a given state of facts. The presumption of knowledge of the law becomes, to term it mildly, more than violent." The dispassionate report of the Committee of the American Bar Association above quoted tells only part of the story, but it serves to illustrate the fact that the National Recovery Administration has become a vast law-making organization. As an inescapable piece of the picture it must be pointed out that in frequent instances, perhaps in a large majority, subordinate officials, some of them with little experience and others with little qualification, not only write the laws but also enforce them. When the President has approved a code there is no appeal. Besides all of the administrative orders and directions from innumerable boards interpreting and enforcing provisions of the Act, the NRA has created code authorities which themselves issue rules and regulations having the force of law and necessarily affecting the daily lives and conduct of millions of our citizens. Can such procedure be squared with the liberties granted and maintained under provisions of the Constitution? The Brookings Institution has estimated that there are some 50 or 60 different administrative authorities in the Federal Government which are exercising the power to make decisions which intimately affect private rights. Freely it must  be admitted that Congress is compelled, because of the enormity of our governmental machine, to delegate some of its power. For years past the Interstate Commerce Commission has been charged with the duty of fixing rates and with control over the transportation systems of the country, all of which is authority vested originally in Congress and handed down only through Congressional edict. It would be wholly impossible for Congress through its own machinery to administer the functions which have been vested in the Interstate Commerce Commission, but your attention is called to the very pertinent fact that the law creating that Commission gave the right of appeal to the courts in all cases where a decision by the Commission might appear unjust or inequitable. As long as appeal is permitted the citizen enjoys the rights inherent under the Constitution, but when he is precluded from appeal, when his day in court is denied him, when the fiat of a government official can confiscate his property, it matters not how high-minded the official or how well-founded his conclusions, the citizen is being deprived of one of the most sacred privileges of citizenship guaranteed by our form of government. Congress Surrenders Whether intentional or not, more and more Congress has seemed willing to Its Powers make laws that permit usurpation of authority by administrative officials, and, whatever the motive, more and more officials have appeared intent on asking Congress to permit the imposition of Federal authority without the privilege of appeal. What will be the end of such practice? Also Congress over a term of years has been gradually relinquishing to the Executive branch of the Government authority intended by the Constitution to remain with the legislative branch. Two striking examples at once present themselves. The present Administration has created through Executive Orders twenty-three governmental agencies of tremendous power. These agencies include the two Export-Import Banks which have far-reaching powers over the Nation's foreign trade, the National Emergency Council which exercises authority beyond that entrusted to any of the regular Executive Departments of the Government, the Farm Credit Administration which is one of the Government's most ambitious experiments in economic control, the National Labor Relations Board which sits as arbiter in labor disputes, the Petroleum Ad-  ministration which has assumed drastic control in the regulation of the whole petroleum industry, the Federal Alcohol Control Administration which has plenary powers over matters relating to the manufacture, distribution and sale of all alcoholic beverages, and various other commissions or boards scarcely less important. It is not sought here to discuss whether any or all of these agencies are necessary for the proper conduct of the government, but the fact and the method of their creation are called to your attention. If they are necessary, why should they not be brought into being through legislative enactment rather than by Executive Order based on legislative authority? Moreover, granting that broad Executive authority is desirable in emergency, should not Congress retain a larger measure of control? The National Industrial Recovery Act might properly have specified the qualifications and salaries and have required Senate confirmation of the Executive appointees who were to revolutionize our industrial system and inaugurate a public works program of unprecedented size. And in the Agricultural Adjustment Act in which Congress vested power in the Secretary of Agriculture for an indefinite period until the President proclaims the end of the emergency, why would it not have been proper to hold a firm check on the officials chosen by the Secretary to administer the Act? When Congress created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, also an emergency agency, it designated the number of directors to be appointed by the President, fixed their salaries and political qualifications and required confirmation by the Senate. The emergency does not give excuse for disbursements from allotted funds free from any supervision by Congress. And this brings me to another striking citation. PWA Allots Billions of the people's Millions that money have been appro- mmwn* Â»'-*- pnated for expenditure Congress Refused under direction of the Public Works Administration. The allotments of these funds in frequent instances furnish examples of action by administrative authority in direct contravention of the prior determination of Congress. Reclamation projects, river and harbor improvements, public buildings and other governmental proposals, denied by Congress after investigation, have been financed by the PWA without reference to the Congressional attitude.  Of course, the whole excuse for the Public Works program has been to afford employment. Beyond question that program has put many men back to work. But in doing so the Federal Government not merely has borne the enormous cost of luxurious buildings and other enterprises not now required, but also has assumed the large responsibility of their maintenance for years to come. Such employment as has been created thereby is at enormous cost to the American people for succeeding generations. One of the most pressing and vexed problems confronting the Nation at this time is relief for the unemployed and the destitute. Let me make it very clear that the American Liberty League does not challenge the theory that the Government has an obligation to care for a citizen who through no fault of his own but through inability to get work is unable to care for himself. Adequate appropriations must be made for this purpose, and I feel sure I reflect the sentiment of the members of the League when I say that they are entirely willing to bear their part of the necessary tax burdens involved in such appropriations. Discussion of the matter, therefore, does not include the principle of the necessity of relief, nor, primarily, the matter of cost, though obviously every effort should be made to prevent waste or extravagance in any direction. On the other hand there are important questions of policy in which the whole people are interested those receiving relief, those administering it and the taxpayers who must foot the bills. It is my belief that those in charge of the Federal Relief Administration in Washington have done their duty conscientiously, painstakingly and honestly. Their integrity is beyond suspicion. Also it is my belief that considering the machinery with which they have had to work and the haste with which that machinery had to be gotten into action they have done the job with a very fair degree of efficiency. On the other hand, there are numerous complaints to the effect that millions in relief funds have been wasted because of unwise or inept administrative methods in the states or the sub-divisions of the states. Complaints on Senator Borah of Idaho â€ž 1.% j is authority for the charge KelieJ tuna that in one hundred covm_ Distribution ties of a certain state it cost $5,100.00 to administer $4,700.00 of relief funds. In a certain instance he declared that at an administrative cost of $572.00 the total amount distributed was  $4.00, while in another instance the amount distributed was $6.00 at an administrative cost of $576.00. The Senator did not name the state or the counties involved. I am certain, however, that he has adequate evidence to sustain his statements. Let me call your attention to an instance in my native state of Kentucky. Floyd County in the eastern part of that state has a population of 41,942. Those charged with the duty of administering relief were entrusted with $430,000 of relief funds and indictments are now pending against seven of them alleging a conspiracy to divert a total of $122,500. Five of the seven are accused of actually using the funds for their own private interests. A very important point of the whole situation is the fact that a total of $430,-000 of relief funds was provided for Floyd County, Kentucky, within less than a year, and that the total general property tax levied in that county in the year 1932, the latest figures available, was $390,000 as shown by the compilations of the Census Bureau. Of the general property tax levied in 1932, $101,000 was for state purposes, $118,000 for county purposes, $31,000 for cities, towns and villages and $140,000 for school districts. The total governmental cost payments of Floyd County and the cities, towns and villages and school districts in it amounted for the year 1932 to $454,000. The total revenue receipts of Floyd County and the cities, towns and villages and school districts within it amounted to $448,000 for the year 1932. In other words, the amount of relief money, $430,000, almost all of it from the Federal Treasury, that was poured into the county within less than a year was greater by $40,000 than the total general property tax levied in the county in 1932 and almost equal to the total governmental cost of the cities, towns, villages and school districts of the county for the year 1932. Within the past two weeks in the City of Washington the Daily News, a Scripps-Howard paper which is an ardent partizan of the present Administration, has published a survey of the relief situation. Mind you, Washington is the seat of the Federal Government. It is not an industrial city but it has the unfailing source of enormous Government payrolls from week to week, from month to month, from year to year. In so far as its income is concerned it has been less affected by the depression than any other city of the Nation. On the other hand within the past eighteen months thousands of additional employees have been added to the Government pay-  roll. And yet this survey of the relief situation in Washington made by the Daily News found approximately 72,000 persons, or one out of every seven of the population of the Nation's Capital, now on relief rolls. Of this number 67,000 are being cared for by Federal funds and 5,000 by private charities of one kind of another. Seventy-six per cent of those on relief in Washington, according to the estimate of the News, are colored people and they represent thirty-nine per cent of the entire colored population of the city. Commenting upon the possible future effects of present relief activities, the News reached this significant conclusion, "That although there is nothing right now that can be done about it, relief is building a race of people satisfied to be on relief. What effect this will have on the attitude and ability of future generations we can only guess." Keep Relief The consideration of p___r _â€ž crâ€ž,-~,+ waste is important. The Free from?amt effect upon Â£he morale of of Politics the people is far more im- portant. But there is a further point which I should like to emphasize as earnestly as I may, and that is that the most dangerous circumstance connected with the entire relief situation is the utilization of a political agency to administer relief. The whole operation should be free from any taint of politics. Regardless of what party might be in office, relief expenditures should not in any circumstance be used for political advantage, nor should there be allowed even the remote temptation so to use them. The distribution of largesses from the public treasury is one of the most ancient devices by which bureaucracies and other undemocratic governments have sought to maintain themselves in power. Heretofore in the United States such attempts have been restricted to the operations of municipal political machines in some of our larger cities. There they have been remarkably effective and have constituted the chief defense against periodic efforts of reform. Now, for the first time, there is the possibility that this pernicious system may be tried on a nation-wide scale. I do not say it is being tried, but I do say we have provided the machinery for such an attempt and until that machinery is dismantled it will constitute a permanent temptation for misuse. For many years there has been a wholly non-political, humanitarian organization utilized by  our people and our government alike for the dispensation of relief. It is the American Red Cross. In both war and peace it has carried on. When floods or drought or tornadoes or fire or pestilence or any other afflictions have taken their disastrous toll, its ministrations and its benefactions have ameliorated suffering and loss. Its work has been done without favoritism and without scandal. It is the natural agency to be employed in the present emergency and it should be so employed. Fairly it may be assumed that the President and his advisers desire to eliminate any charge of partizan politics in the allotment or expenditure of relief money. Without the slightest reflection but rather with full measure of praise to the task that has been performed by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, Congress can specify that future appropriations for direct relief are to be handled by the Red Cross. Thus would be removed any basis of the suggestion of attempted political advantage. The Red Cross has a remarkable record for effi- Red Cross Efficient and ciency and economy. There Economical are especial reasons why it can operate more cheaply than other organizations. Its officials are not mere temporary job holders but are experts in their various lines of work. It has the advantage of countless volunteer workers. Furthermore, it has frequently been able to secure free or reduced transportation privileges granted in times of special stress. It is a quasi-governmental institution with the President of the United States as its President. It is nation-wide in organization scope. It has chapters throughout the country. It holds the confidence of the people. While the Red Cross has always raised its own funds without looking to the government for appropriations, it handled a large quantity of wheat and cotton which was turned over to it by authority of Congress in 1932 and 1933. In March of 1932 Congress adopted what was then an unprecedented measure when it directed that 40 million bushels of wheat stored under the stabilization program of the Federal Farm Board be allotted to the Red Cross for use in administering relief to the Nation's needy. Subsequently in 1932 and in the early part of 1933 Congress provided that additional wheat stocks and also cotton held by the Farm Board be given to the Red Cross. Altogether the Red Cross received in this manner 85 million bushels of wheat  and 884,063 bales of cotton. Under its direction the wheat was made into 10,688,307 barrels of flour, 4,885 tons of cereal and 233,901 tons of feed for livestock. The cotton was converted into 103,650,778 yards of cloth and sheeting, 66,733,524 ready-made garments and 3,179,941 blankets and comforts. In addition, both wheat and cotton were used in barter to meet costs of manufacture, packing and shipping, as Congress had voted nothing to cover expenses. The administrative outlay, such as the necessary clerical force, printing, postage, telephone, telegraph, etc., were borne by the Red Cross itself with an expenditure of $725,000 from its treasury. The distribution of the wheat and cotton products reached one out of every five persons in the Nation. The individuals receiving the relief in 3081 of the 3098 counties in the United States, and in Porto Rico, Alaska and other outlying possessions, totaled 26,000,000. Participating were 3746 Red Cross chapters, their branches and other units. Local administrative expenses were met from the treasuries of the chapters. There is no question that if Congress had provided for this relief operation through a governmental agency the administrative costs would have reached a very large total. The suggestions concerning the Red Cross are offered for consideration in connection with the disbursement of direct relief whether in the form of money or of goods. There is, however, another important phase to the whole relief problem. The accepted American method of dealing with such situations has been wherever possible to provide an opportunity for work rather than outright charity. It was this theory which was responsible for the establishment of the Civil Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. I am not suggesting that all the activities carried on by these groups have been of marked value. I am asserting that it is wiser and better for a man in need of assistance to be given the opportunity to earn his bread in the sweat of his face. Further I maintain that some chance should be afforded to determine as between those who are willing to work when work is offered and those who want the Government to support them without self-help. Jobs are The Administration's re- â– prpfpYrihle lief PrÂ°gram has not yet irrejeraoie. been made pubHc News. To Doles paper dispatches from Warm Springs, however, indicate that careful consideration is being given  to extensive self-help programs, which, in my judgment, is to be commended. These enterprises, of whatever kind, can best be continued under the direction of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. But it is earnestly urged that in the disbursement of direct relief which will still be necessary in considerable measure, the Red Cross should be utilized to the fullest extent possible. America cannot continue indefinitely the effort to spend herself out of the depression. Fortunately there are evidences in many directions of a substantial revival of business. We are a nation of vast resources and tremendous potentialities. But these are not inexhaustible. The time has come for a sober consideration of our fiscal situation and for a stern determination on the part of officials everywhere to cut expenditures and to balance budgets. No one can be more acutely aware of this than the President. In his first message to Congress following his inauguration he emphasized the deficit then existing and impressively pointed out that "for three long years the Federal Government has been on the road to bankruptcy." He candidly held that national recovery depends upon the security of the Nation's credit. Early this year in another message to Congress the President urged that the budget should be balanced for the fiscal year that runs from July 1, 1935 to June 30, 1936. The Congress which convenes next month must make the appropriations for that period. The effort that is exerted to hold expenditures within proper bounds, the exercise of real economy will have an important bearing upon the speed with which recovery may be accomplished and upon the personal psychology of our people as well. The safeguards of personal liberty which the Constitution provides, the right of the individual to work, earn, save and acquire property, the duty of government to foster and protect that right, the opportunity for initiative and enterprise these are the foundation stones upon which the American people have builded in a century and a half the most successful governmental structure thus far devised by man. Be zealous, my countrymen, in preserving that structure for succeeding generations.