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of study, and by serving an apprenticeship in practical engineering work in a subordinate position without compensation. Aspirants are obliged to devote eight years to the preparatory study and training necessary to fulfill the requirements of the several examinations before a permanent appointment can be obtained; but when it is obtained the successful candidate is secure in his position, and should he retire at any time after getting into office he is entitled to a pension not exceeding seveneighths of the salary he receives. The officials of the department are organized into district and provincial boards and a central bureau. As a rule, all projects for new improvements originate with the resident district officials, and, when formulated and approved by the district board, are forwarded to the provincial board for examination. That body either returns them for further examination or alteration, or, if approved, sends them up for final examination to the central bureau, by which they are considered carefully, and either referred back for changes, approved for execution, or disapproved entirely. Occasionally this order is reversed, and the central bureau causes outline plans for improvements to be prepared, which are forwarded to the local officials for investigation and elaboration, and are then similarly passed upon. All projects suggested in the legislative assembly or by others are referred to the department, and take the same course. The central bureau is composed of a number of high government officials, and in the consideration of all proj. ects of importance the final examinations and recommendations are not made by any one official, but by the whole board, after which the final decision rests with the Minister of Public Works, who is the responsible head of the department.
After such a thorough investigation of every improvement recommended, the Minister of Public Works prepares each year a budget containing detailed plans for, and estimates of, the cost of all proposed improvements. With these he goes before the committees of the legislative body, and presents for their con sideration well-digested proposals, with all the information concerning them that is needful to enable the committees to pass upon them intelligently. A fixed sum is appropriated annually for all the river and barbor works in progress, and this is apportioned among the different improvements at the discretion of the Minister of Public Works. When new projects are undertaken, the total cost and the time required for their conpletion are approximately determined, and thereafter appropriations are made regularly in accordance with that determination, and without further discussion, unless some unforeseen contingency should make it necessary to ask for larger appropriations than usual.
The advantages of such a system are self-evident. No proj. ect is undertaken without the fullest possible investigation and consideration, not by a single engineer, or even by a few temporarily detailed for the service, but by resident engineers upon the ground familiar with every detail, by all the higher officials of the department, and finally by its responsible head. Every project is in this way passed upon by men who have made engineering their life work, and who, by training and practical experience, have become fitted to achieve distinction in that work. No single engineer with a hobby, or an ardent desire to experiment on some new theory at the public expense, can secure an opportunity to carry out his individual ideas, unless they commend themselves to his associates. Local or sectional interests have no effect in influencing the final decision of so large a body of trained experts, occupying secure and independent official positions; and the action of the department in reference to any proposed improvement represents the deliberate opinion and best professional judgment of the entire body.
In this lies the great and especial value of the foreign systems. Every step is taken advisedly. Every precaution is taken to guard against individual errors of judgment. Works once begun are prosecuted steadily to completion, without the wasteful delays and interruptions so frequent in this country. Whatever is done is done well; everything that is done counts. Similar results could undoubtedly be secured in this country by the adoption of similar methods, and the advantages to be gained make the experiment worth the trial.
Bills are now pending in both branches of Congress having this purpose in view. They provide for the organization of a civil bureau in the War Department, to be especially charged with all work in connection with harbors and water-ways. It is proposed that the country be divided into departments, with a number of divisions in each; with division and department boards, and over all an advisory board; all reports to be passed upon by these respective boards. Provision is made for securing full reports from the officers in charge of local improvements, from each division engineer as to the commercial needs of his division in the matter of improvements, and from each department engineer as to the needs of his department; the advisory board to report upon them all in their national relations, and to recommend such improvements as are deemed most desirable.
These measures were prepared by an authorized committee representing over three thousand civil engineers, who have been engaged for several years in discussing at their meetings the evils of the present situation, and in seeking a remedy. The bills have been attacked by the army engineers, who have raised the usual cry of the “ins"—that the “outs" simply want places. But the personal interests or desires of neither class of engineers should cut any figure in the consideration of the subject. The army men assert that the organization of a special bureau, as proposed, would unnecessarily enlarge our already immense official establishment, and say, in substance, in their petition, that any change which interferes with their present powers and privileges would be disastrous to commerce.
However that may be, the fact remains that the engineer corps is essentially a military organization; that its officers receive a military training, and have military duties to perform; and that the supervision of river and harbor works is not their regular duty, but is an incidental service. The officers detailed by the Secretary of War to take charge of river and harbor works are really upon detached service. Their employment in such service is not permanent, and transfers from it to military duties are frequent. Their duties and their authority are not defined by Congress, and the result of their anomalous position is, that Congress receives from them nothing in the way of information or recommendations except what is specifically called for. For these and other reasons a reorganization of the engineer corps or the creation of a new corps is necessary. What is requisite is a permanent agency, with its work and duties clearly marked out by Congress. It matters not whether it is composed of military or civil engineers, or both; the main thing to be done is to set in motion machinery designed especially for the performance of the work it will be called upon to do, instead of trusting to machinery designed for a different class of work.
It is improbable that such reforms can easily be effected. Important as they are to the interests of commerce and good government, and to an orderly administration of public affairs, they may be, as many other matters necessarily are, overlooked by Congress until public opinion is aroused upon the subject and demands action; but time and discussion will eventually bring these necessary changes in our national policy with respect to public works.
SHELBY M. CULLOM.
OBJECTIONS TO HIGH LICENSE.
LET me premise that I have no objection to license legislation in general as a method of dealing with the abuses of the liquor traffic. Intelligently devised, and faithfully administered, I regard it as the most effectively useful form of liquor legislation. The 80-called "prohibitory” laws I hold to be vicious in principle, and, on the large scale and in the long run, demonstrably unsuccessful in practice. For a fuller statement and defense of these opinions I may be permitted to refer to two articles, on hibition, So-called," and on "The Alternative of Probibition," in the FORUM for November and December, 1886. When I add that I hold no principle, either as citizen or as churchman, that forbids me to accept and maintain (to use the Scripture phrase)
laws that are not good,” when they are the most practically useful for the time, it will be admitted that I come to the discussion of this subject free from any disqualifying prejudices.
Let me put this question at the outset of the discussion : Is there any good reason why licenses to sell intoxicating liquors should be sold, at any price, whether low or high? A license to conduct this business is, according to the proper conception of license legislation, a trust committed to a discreet person to be exercised for the public good. The business is indispensable to civilized society. The most violent reformers admit this, and embody in what they humorously style their “probibitory " laws a provision that the business shall be conducted by public officers appointed for the purpose. One favorite and effectual device for defeating the operation of a probibitory law is to defeat the provision for a liquor agency. It is perfectly well understood by the enemies of the public morals that, if no provision whatever is made for necessary sales of liquor, the law at once becomes a dead letter. That which a prohibitory law accomplishes by organizing official State liquor shops, a license.