Saturday, March 16, 2013

According to Custom

The present session of the Legislature commenced its proceedings according to custom.  And as it has been our custom heretofore to condemn such proceedings we again put in our protest against them and without any new excuse for so doing.  We refer to the practice of ordering large numbers of certain documents printed in the different languages in pamphlet form and also that of members voting themselves each about $20.00 worth of the papers printed at the capital.  The present Legislature ordered about 20,000 copies of the Governor’s Message and Inaugural printed in the English, German, Holland and Danish languages and also voted themselves 19 copies each of the daily papers at the capital.  Whatever circumstances in the past made it necessary for this practice they do not now exist.  Almost every county in the State has home paper or papers in which the messages are printed circulated and read long before the same documents are received in pamphlet form from the members of the Legislature.  And as a general thing those who are best able to supply themselves with reading matter, and who care the least about these documents, are the ones who are favored [by] members.  The number received at most only amounting to a fraction of each one’s constituents.  The same as to the papers.  Very few comparatively get to see them but all are taxed alike to pay for them.  The mere matter of postage on these if members send them to their constituents, which is the plea for voting them, that will be changed to the State will amount to some $3,000.  We are down on the whole thing – {Keosaqua Republican.

We agree in the main in the Republican’s strictures.  Whenever a legislative body starts out to put money into the hands of its members or friends [or of] a class of persons for political or other purposes there is never a good place to stop.  After voting money to sustain the papers at the capital and throwing a small sop to the others in the State, after printing messages in diverse languages in order to put money into the pockets of diverse printers, all of which amounts to but little, our Solons find it difficult to resist importunities for material aid form many other quarters.  When a start is once made in this direction there is no good place to stop.

The present General Assembly has thrown away no more money for buncombe than its predecessors, if indeed, as much, and is now laboring earnestly and zealously in the right direction.  All we refer to the matter at all for is to express our regret that a total reformation was not effected.  There never will be a better time.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, February 1, 1862, p. 1

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