January 27, 1907, Sunday
WE are not disposed to look for faults in the sayings and doings of our officials. The FREE PRESS is not in the least anxious to win the cheap plaudits with which thoughtless people frequently laud the carping critic. We seek the respect of those who think calmly and dispassionately, and we try to be just. Thus, we willingly affirm that Governor General Smith has started out well in his tenure of office. His motives are above reproach: and he is a plain talker. He has accomplished much in a very short time. Some of his speeches have been admirable—that address at the Quill Club dinner was particularly good. So much in deserved approbation—now for the other side of the medallion. Smith is a man, and a man (like a woman) can talk too much. When a man talks too much he frequently becomes garrulous, and garrulousness in an executive is a parlous thing—a decidedly perilous thing.
“Speech” said M. de Tallyrand, “was given to man that he might conceal his thoughts.”
When the beasts of the field and the birds of the air were at war, and the war became barren of battles through the inability of the carabao to fly and the unwillingness of the dove to peck at the tiger’s tail, the rival armies chose the bat as go-between—for the recorded reason that the bat was dumb. The wise Philip of France once remarked that his greatest regret was that his realm was so short in deaf-mutes that he was hard put to find suitable ambassadors.
No disrespect to General Smith, who is an excellent man and a governor in earnest—but we believe he would have done better in the north country if he had closed his ears against some of the soothing ditties of the revenue-spenders and refrained from intoning them with variations while playing the Piper up-country in Luzon.
“The Piper”—that is not a bad title for our little insular serio-comedy. Chief piper, little pipers, and lesser pipers.
It is not General Smith’s fault that he is cast for the little role, and, after all, it is, at best, an ungrateful part: but it is, in great measure, his fault that there are so many little pipers and lesser pipers crowding the stage that there is hardly room in the auditorium for the people who are paying the freight, that a great deal of the music is execrable, and the libretto so massacred that its author would never recognize it.
We are told by the highest authority that the government is “flat broke.” “It has no money to speak of, now, and it will have less than that (nothing from nothing leaves nothing) next year”—what a sorrowful confession for a modern government to be forced to make! Yet, it is partly true—the central government has so many high-salaried official ornaments on its hands that it has not a copper centavo for necessary, urgently needed works. We are short on teachers for the public schools, road builders, and others of the rank and file, and long on expensive chair warmers. That is why the cupboard is bare.
Once in a while, an economy wave strikes the administration, officials of the mandarin class go a-head-hunting; cut out some hundred-dollar clerks, stop a few leaks at the bottom of the governmental bark and—raise their own salaries.
There’s the rub. It is against reason to expect the higher officials of the Philippine Islands to cut down their own salaries. The economies at the top will have to be ordered by the governor general, or by Washington on the advice of a special commission sent out for that purpose. There lies Smith’s opportunity, and the alternative.
That the governor general is not over-paid will be generally admitted. Equally, there is agreement that the government is absurdly top-heavy—that it is but another teat added to a long-suffering and over-milked cow.