Our Wonderland of Bureaucracy: A Study of the Growth of Bureaucracy in the Federal Government, and Its Destructive Effect upon the Constitution

By James M. Beck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X GOVERNMENT-OWNED CORPORATIONS

"I see you're admiring my little box," the Knight said in a friendly tone. "It's my own invention--to keep clothes and sandwiches in. You see I carry it upside down, so that the rain ca'n't get in."

"But the things can get out," Alice gently remarked. "Do you know the lid's open?"

"I didn't know it," the Knight said, a shade of vexation passing over his face. "Then all the things must have fallen out! And the box is no use without them." He unfastened it as he spoke, and was just going to throw it into the bushes, when a sudden thought seemed to strike him, and he hung it carefully on a tree. "Can you guess why I did that?" he said to Alice.--ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

No governmental device has been as mischievous as the unnecessary expedient of incorporating some special function of the government into a business corporation, chartered under state laws. It has dissipated responsibility, and permitted employees of the United States under the mask of a state charter to avoid all reasonable administrative regulations, and impose upon the taxpayer an intolerable burden of extravagant expenditures, often increased by gross corruption.

These government-owned corporations grew like mushrooms during the World War. Chief Justice Marshall long ago criticized similar iniquitous subterfuges. He said:

"It is, we think, a sound principle, that when a government becomes a partner in any trading company, it divests itself, so far as concerns the transactions of that company, of its sovereign character, and takes that of a private citizen. Instead of communicating to the company its privileges and prerogatives, it descends to a level with those with whom it associates itself, and takes the character which belongs to its associates and to the business which is to be transacted. As a member of a corporation a government

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