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NCJ Number: 64243 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION
Journal: POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY  Volume:19  Dated:(DECEMBER 1904)  Pages:673-686
Author(s): H J FORD
Corporate Author: Acad of Political Science
United States of America
Date Published: 1904
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: Acad of Political Science
New York, NY 10025
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS ESSAY CRITICALLY EXAMINING LINCOLN STEFFENS'S DISCUSSION OF MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION IN 'THE SHAME OF THE CITIES' CONCLUDES THAT THE CORRUPTION STEFFENS CRITICIZES SERVES A CONSTRUCTIVE PURPOSE.
Abstract: STEFFENS'S WORK, PUBLISHED IN 1904, IS SIMILAR TO OTHER 18TH-CENTURY ENGLISH WORKS IN THAT HE BLAMES GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION ON THE APATHY OF AMERICAN CHARACTER, BUT EXPRESSES HOPE. STEFFENS' ANALYSIS OF MUNICIPAL GRAFT IS ACCURATE, BUT THE FACTS HE DEALS WITH ARE ONLY SUPERFICIAL SYMPTOMS. THE NEW FEUDALISM AND RESULTING EXACTIONS OF TRIBUTE HE OBSERVED MAY HAVE BEEN A NATURAL DEVELOPMENT FROM CONSTITUTIONAL CONDITIONS. THE SYSTEM OF GRAFT MAKES POLITICAL ACTIVITY FUNCTION SMOOTHLY AND IS LESS DANGEROUS TO A NATION THAN ARE SLACKNESS, DECAY, AND CONFUSION. THE BOSS SYSTEM IS AN EXPENSIVE BUT EFFECTIVE REMEDY FOR THE IMPERFECTIONS OF SUFFRAGE, WHICH HAS LITTLE VALUE FOR ADMINISTRATION. IT IS UNREALISTIC TO EXPECT AVERAGE PEOPLE TO ASSESS ACCURATELY THE QUALIFICATIONS OF CANDIDATES FOR PUBLIC OFFICE. GRAFT IS A COST OF HAVING NUMEROUS ELECTIVE OFFICES. SUFFRAGE CAN BE AN AGENCY OF CONTROL ONLY IF EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY IS CONCENTRATED JUST AS IT IS IN BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS. HOWEVER, CURRENT MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION IS THE OPPOSITE OF BUSINESS ORGANIZATION. UNLIKE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, IN WHICH SEPARATION OF POWERS IS APPARENT RATHER THAN REAL, MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE EXPERIENCED GROWING NUMBERS OF ELECTED POSITIONS AND A RESULTING DISCONNECTION OF EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE FUNCTIONS. THE POLITICAL MACHINES ARE A NECESSARY TOOL FOR CREATING ORDER OUT OF THE RESULTING CHAOS. U.S. INSTITUTIONS WERE NEVER DEMOCRATIC, BUT RECENTLY MONEY POWER HAS BEEN SUBSTITUTED FOR ARISTOCRATIC CONTROL. THE FORMAL CONSTITUTION IS A SHAM AND THE MACHINE IS THE CONSTITUTED GOVERNMENT. IN SOME CITIES, CREATION OF BOARDS OF ESTIMATE AND APPORTIONMENT IS BEGINNING TO UNITE EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE FUNCTIONS AND THEREFORE TO INTEGRATE DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT, THUS REAFFIRMING THE WONDERFUL ASSIMILATING CAPACITY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS. THE SITUATION IS THEREFORE NOT AS DESPERATE AS MR. STEFFENS BELIEVES. (CFW)
Index Term(s): Bribery; Conflict of interest; Corruption of public officials; Evaluation; Federal government; Graft; Local government; Public administration; Separation of powers; Theory; White collar crime
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