« PředchozíPokračovat »
control of public policy by public opinion. Only men of unusual ability are capable of playing this new rôle of the governor, but the opportunity which thus presents itself for the display of statesmanlike qualities will induce a much abler type of man to become a candidate for the office than has hitherto been the
A “House of Governors," if composed of a number of such able and independent leaders, will, though entirely extralegal in character, become one of the most influential bodies in the country in shaping the course of general state legislation.
The significance of the increasing influence of the governor lies in the fact that through him the people have found a means of controlling the formulation of public policy. The concentration of large power in the hands of a single responsible officer no longer excites fear of tyranny, but is seen to be a step towards true democracy. Government becomes, if not by the people, at least for the people.
The natural desire of the people for leadership has hitherto found its manifestation largely in boss-rule. The power of the boss has been due to the fact that he has performed two functions which must of necessity be assumed by some one. These are the dictation of legislation, and the appointment of nominally elective officers. In other words, he has controlled both legislation and administration. Since the bodies empowered by law to perform these functions are not fitted to do so, the functions must of necessity be either usurped by some organization outside the governmental system, such as the political machine, or else transferred to some other body within the government better qualified for their proper discharge. Hitherto the former alternative has been very largely followed, but more recently, as has been shown, perceptible progress has been made towards transferring the control of legislation from the unofficial boss to the governor. Even, however, should the boss be completely ousted from the control of legislation, he can still take refuge behind the breastworks of the long ballot. Hence, in order that the power of the governor may be fully commensurate with his responsibility, it will be necessary that the number of elective state officers be reduced and greater
power of appointment and removal vested in the governor. In bringing about this much-needed reform, the newly acquired influence of the governor over legislation is likely to be a potent factor. The greater co-ordination which the governor in his new rôle effects between himself and the legislature tends to establish those governmental and political conditions which will be conducive to the adoption of the short ballot.
As soon as the people become fully aware of the far-reaching evils arising from the present disintegrated administrative system in the states, they will be assisted in finding a remedy by the possibility of greater control over the state business which the new position of the governor places in their hands.
NOTES ON CURRENT LEGISLATION
EDITED BY HORACE E. FLACK
The British National Insurance Act. The year 1911 will stand out in English history in the same manner as do those of 1689 and 1832, as witnessing a constitutional revolution of the first magnitude. The year will be remembered for the passage of the Parliament Act which has certainly completely overshadowed and dwarfed all other accomplishments of Parliament for many sessions. Yet, had the Parliament Act never been conceived, the year 1911 would be memorable in the political and social history of England from the enactment of the National Insurance Law, which the Prime-minister perhaps not unjustly declared to be “the greatest scheme for the social benefit of the people that has ever yet been conceived." Whether we agree or not with this eulogium, there is no question that the measure marks the highest point to which paternalistic government has ever yet dared venture. It constitutes the fitting and logical capstone to that great system of legislation for the amelioration of the condition of the working classes with which Parliament in recent years has busied itself. The Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905, the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1906, the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908, the Labor Exchanges Act of 1909 may be viewed as merely paving the way for this last great stride toward the régime of state interference. It is estimated that about 14,000,000 persons will come within the scope of the act, almost equaling the number who benefit from state insurance in Germany, where of course the total population is much larger and the system has been in operation for twenty years.
The bill was introduced by Mr. Lloyd-George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was read a first time on May 4; its second reading occurred on May 29. It was at first intended to force the measure through at the regular session, but this being found impossible, it became the chief matter of business for the special autumn session. Even with this additional allotment of time, it was necessary to apply most drasticly the procedure which has come to be variously called "closure by compartments," "the guillotine," or "the kangaroo clos
ure.” Only thus was its enactment secured before the close of the session in December. It was finally passed and became a law December 16, and is to go into effect on July 1 of this year. The Chancellor, in introducing the bill, expressed an eager willingness for criticism and suggestions; and there have certainly been few measures which have undergone so extensive a revision in process of enactment. No less than 140 amendments were accepted by the Government and incorporated into the bill during its passage. The discussion of the measure was carried on quite as effectively, and to as much purpose, outside the walls of Parliament as within. The Chancellor was ever ready to receive deputations and listen to representations from every sort of interest or organization affected by the bill. The changes which were made in the measure were the result of, and reflect, these outside conferences and discussions to a larger degree than the regular debates in Parliament. In spite of all this readjustment and alteration, it is evident that the measure as passed is still unworkable and will require serious amendment before it can ever go into effect. This is chiefly due to the strong boycott which the physicians have instituted against it, and which, if persisted in, will certainly nullify its operation. The measure as enacted is very complicated and intricate; it contains 115 clauses besides a number of schedules. It has been manifest that the public could not understand it in its details.
The bill did not arouse the hostility in the Unionist camp which was expected. The ministry were apparently completely surprised to find the opposition frankly endorse the principle of the bill, and confine their efforts to a criticism of its details and of the methods by which it was forced through Parliament without the opportunity to subject it to the thorough discussion which its importance warranted. In laying down the leadership of his party, Mr. Balfour, commenting on the methods used to gag debate and force the bill through the House, declared that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had got his bill, but only at the price of the liberties of the House of Commons. Politics, it is alleged, explain the extreme haste with which it was enacted. It was necessary to secure its passage during the 1911 session, as the Irish Nationalists would not brook a longer postponement of the consideration of Home Rule. It was necessary to put it into operation at once, in order to secure the advantage which its beneficent operation would afford the Liberal party at the next general election.
The act is frankly based on the experience of Germany for a score of years in the field of compulsory workingmen's insurance, and embodies
all the best features of the German plan. It goes much farther, however, than any similar system in any other country. The scheme is divided into two general parts: insurance for sickness and disability, and for unemployment. The first is far the more inclusive, embracing in its scope all wage-earners (with certain rather narrow exceptions) between the ages of 15 and 65 whose income does not reach the Income Tax minimum of £160 per annum. The German principle of distributing the cost of the benefits among employee, employer and the state is adopted, but in every case there is secured the same total of 9d. for men and 8d. for women per week. The normal contribution of employees is 4d. for men and 3d. for women; the employer gives 3d. in each case; and the state adds 2d. Where, however, the earnings of the employee are not more than 2s. 6d. a day, and the remuneration does not include the provision of board and lodging, the insured (man or woman) contributes 3d., and the employer's contribution is increased, in the case of men, to 4d. Where the daily wage is no more than 2s., the worker's share is reduced to 1d.; the employer's is increased to 5d. for men and 4d. for women; and the state gives 3d. And where the daily earnings do not exceed is. 6d., the employee contributes nothing; the employer gives 6d. for men and 5d. for women; and the state gives 3d. It will be observed that the plan secures great simplicity by establishing a flat premium basis, no gradation either with respect to age or income being introduced.
In addition to this system of compulsory insurance, the act contains provision for voluntary insurance by any person who is not strictly an employee, but who is dependent upon his own work, and whose income does not exceed £160 a year. This class may secure the benefit of the state's donation by assuming themselves the employer's contribution in addition to that of the employee.
The method of collecting the contributions of employee and employer which has worked so successfully in Germany is utilized in the British act. The employer (or the voluntary contributor) affixes to a card, bearing the beneficiary's name, stamps of a special kind procurable at the post-office to the amount of his own and the employee's contribution, deducting the amount of the latter from his weekly wage. This is forwarded to the central insurance office when filled up, and the amount is properly credited.
The benefits which it is proposed to afford include the following: first, "medical treatment and attendance, including the provision of proper and sufficient medicines and such medical and surgical appli