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which general welfare requires he should have, while the danger of exposure, even by judicial inquiry, hangs over his head. But the numbering produces other and far greater evils. It is done by the election officer, who, therefore, must handle the ballots and drop them into the box. When, again, the ballots are counted a reference to corresponding numbers on the list of voters reveals to the election officer how any and every citizen has voted.

The oath of secrecy has been found of little avail. It is systematically violated. The industrial and political boss almost invariably secures the information he desires concerning the ballot of his victim. It is for this reason, because of their long and disastrous experience under the numbering system, that the people demand its abolition and the restoration to them of their lost right to a free and unintimidated vote. The reason for the existing constitutional provision has in great measure ceased.

Corruption and brutal coercion have taken the place of ballot box stuffiing in our elections. To reform the abuses in question a constitutional convention is necessary. There is no reason why such a convention should not be assembled at an early day, its deliberations completed and the results submitted to the people and approved or rejected within the present year.


Additional warrant and necessity for this are to be found in the demand for a system of compulsory personal registration. Such a system cannot be secured without an elimination from the constitution of the provision that “No elector shall be deprived of the privilege of voting by reason of his name not being registered." Like the numbered ballot clause, this provision was inserted to avoid an abuse which no longer exists, while this provision remains an obstruction to a reform now urgently needed and popularly demanded. An act of assembly may establish in Pennsylvania the official ballot, the booth secluding the voter, and the open count, all of which are important reforms; but we cannot establish compulsory registration or give to the people the one thing which they most want and are determined to have—a secret ballotsave by a constitutional convention.,


Of scarcely less importance is the equalization of the burdens of taxation. For many years there has been a well-grounded complaint against the insufficiency, the inequality, the ineffectiveness and the partiality of the tax laws of the state.

The burdens of the government should be equally shared, or at least as nearly so as human laws can contrive. Since our legislative policy is to tax property rather than persons there can be no possible excuse for selecting the houses and farms of the people to bear ten times as much of the public burdens as personal property. If things and not persons are to be taxed, common equity would dictate that the aggregate of a man's possessions, irrespective of their kind, and simply according to their value, should bear the infliction. What delinquency has real estate been guilty of that it should be thus unfairly discriminated against? It is the most productive, the most needful and the most stable form of property. It adds most to our wealth, remains always with us, shelters and sustains our people, and at once attracts, and, if justly treated, retains and multiplies population. There is a baleful vice in the form of government that inflicts a penalty upon lands and houses and makes their ownership difficult and burdensome. The farmer and householder has no right to any exemption from his fair share of the public expense, but he has a right to just and impartial treatment that cannot be ignored except at a cost of social tranquility. The inequality referred to is patent to every eye. There is not a citizen in the commonwealth paying a tax upon his home or farm who cannot point to some neighbor owning many times as much in personal goods and idle capital who yet pays an immeasurably less amount of tax. It is useless to answer such undeniable facts by any intricate theory as to the ultimate distribution of all taxation. Such unjust discrimination is working untold evil to our people, is oppressing the poor; is exempting the rich; is day by day establishing unfortunate social distinctions that are foreign to our principles of government, destructive of the happiness and energies of men and blasting the hopes that we have all prayerfully entertained of our country becoming the home of a contented and happy people.

The state tax on corporations fills all the requirements of a subject for taxation for the support of the state government that can be uniformly assessed upon established standards of valuation, and which can be cheaply collected. The machinery for its assessment is simple and the cost of its collection is nominal. Corporate wealth is purely a creation of the state, and fitly bears the burden of its expenses; but since this and the collateral inheritance tax together produce ample revenues for the state expenses, I suggest that the revenue law be so changed that the state remit to the counties all other taxes and license charges now levied by it. Every dictate of public policy suggests that taxation be reduced to the bare needs of the government. By enforced economy the taxpayer is protected, his burdens are lessened and thrift is promoted. A revenue in excess of the actual needs of the state puts a premium on extravagance and wastefulness in legislation. THE REVENUE COMMISSION.

With these present sources of revenue, now wholly or in part at the service of the state, remitted to the counties, the problem will still remain of so ascertaining and adjusting the different subjects of taxation that all classes of property will bear their equal share. To this end a revenue commission, which has prosecuted its work laboriously during the past year, has presented divers reports for the consideration of the people and their representatives. I will not anticipate the discussion which must attend an examination of the several bills and plans offered, except to invoke for the whole subject thorough consideration and deliberate action, and to indulge the hope that the outcome will be a measure which will materially relieve landed property in the commonwealth from the burdens which have too long lain upon it.

The authority of the state in regulating local taxation should not, however, extend further than the constitutional requirement for the enactment of general laws to secure uniformity upon the same class of subjects within the territorial limits of the authority levy. ing the tax.

A multiplicity of taxing officers is also vexatious and wasteful. The people demand the abolition of the office of mercantile appraisers. All mercantile taxes are levied upon subjects purely of local concern, and ought to be applied, if applied at all, for the benefit of the counties from which they are derived. In advertising mercantile taxes and in collecting delinquent mercantile taxes the state needlessly expends thou. sands of dollars.


No corporations in the world are, as a rule, so helpless as the municipal corporations of America. In Pennsylvania these bodies have a few rights guaranteed to them in the fundamental law which the legislature is bound to respect. Nearly one-half of the people of Pennsylvania live in cities. The tendency of our times has been toward the enlargement of the power of municipalities in the management of such affairs as are entrusted to their administration. An effort has been made to regulate them by general laws to the end that well-defined principles of government might pervade all our municipal charters. One great aim in this direction has been to concentrate official responsibility to the electors by vesting all power in the chief executive of the municipality. But in perfecting this theory have we not measurably lost sight of the accountability which the municipality owes to the state? All powers vested in the cities and in municipal officers are, theoretically at least, delegations from the whole people, and the state should preserve its supervisory power by regular methods to prevent possible abuses through undue concentration of power, patronage and the means of corrupt influence.

PHILADELPHIA'S NEW CHARTER. The new charter of Philadelphia was granted upon the express stipulation and provision that the vast powers conferred upon its executive should be abso. lutely free from political interference or control, and that public officers should be trustees for the whole people, for the minority and for each individual. And yet at the last election the city employes were repeatedly assessed, upon official approval, to promote the success of the ruling party. Many of the powers of the municipality, notably that of the police, were used with virulence against the rights of the minority, which the people of the entire state are bound to protect. Would it not be wise to reserve to the commonwealth the

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