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Then I thought I would like to ask you about the plans for the campaign how they come to be in such a big quantity and I understood there was supposed to be a limit of contributions and how they get out to collect such a big amount of money. The law is of growing it. That's a good phrase. Perhaps the law is a very good I don't know the law is avoided by setting up a large number of independent committees. This trick was first developed in the Wendell Willkie cafe of nineteen hundred forty you set up independent committees and there is no limit upon the amounts which the independent committees. Expel nor do they have to make any formal reporting. So you set up a woman's committee an independent committee a businessman's committee a banker's committee a merchant's committee a Labor Committee a Czech or Slovak about
an Africa African-American committee a German-American committee and so there the money is spent. So that the same candidate who himself only spent one thousand two hundred twenty two dollars knew that those committees of which he had knowledge spent six hundred and twelve. Now you have to remain ignorant of what your independent committees do. A lawyer requires that I do not know how much my independent committee spent. I'm sure they didn't spend enough but imo. That they spent much more than the twenty four thousand which I spent. We have a limit in presidential campaigns that no one should contribute more than $5000. But this also is defeated by the practice of independent committees one and one of the
leading family in this country which no member of the family will give more than $5000 to any one committee. Father and mother and wife the children the nieces the nephews the sisters the cousins in the islands will all contribute $5000 to a National Committee. And then the names will also appear. If you can find them on many of the independent committees and not many of the stake committers money in other words is distributed out of the country so that these present laws are grossly inadequate. Nevertheless I believe that we should fix up a ceiling or we're going to have our democracy destroyed by the pressure of money at election time. The British as you probably know do have such an upper limit but that parliamentary elections.
Parliamentary elections are isolated from local elections. They now have set a limit that the total contributions the total expenditures in behalf of a candidate do not exceed eight pence which is now about eight cents in country constituencies. Seven cents in the urban constituency on the basis of Illinois I think is that would permit four hundred and seventy five thousand dollars for a candidate for the United States Senate upon which one should be able. In the words of Lord Durham to jog along. I think we should adopt some such limits for the United States but our problem is much more complicated because of the fact that we have the problem of parallel jurisdiction and parallel elections on November election will not only be a national election but
also state elections and county elections and the be a limitation by the federal government upon total amounts to shift expenditures to the state level and those need for parallel and coincident legislation between the state and the federal governments. The need first is for reporting before we fix a limit we ought to know how much money is spent so that we would know the facts about the total amount spent so that the independent committee would be able to operate completely in the dark. Now why. As a intermediate step I would like to propose that the radio and television companies give a portion of their time free to parties and candidates so that they may state their positions issues and personalities before the voters and that these this
time be at decent hours and not before 6 o'clock in the morning or after 12:00 o'clock at night. That they be in the listening and viewing hours. Now I've made the suggestion a little while ago and I've had a number of very irate protests from the radio and television chains. One very able television man wrote me that of course he did not believe that you should increase the rate story in campaign time and incidentally that is commonly done. You said he agreed that you should not jack it up in order to hold up the candidates bodies radio and television was still free because anybody who had the price could by the time buy a ticket. Well I delivered a eulogy on the free market. But I said that was conditional upon adequate resources on the part of people who patronize the free.
To what degree is it possible for a poor candidate or a poor party to pay for the television time which is now required in order to get your views before the public. Poor candidate a poor Party is no more able to do that than he is to exercise his legal freedom to stay at the Waldorf-Astoria or spend the winter at the Saxony hotel in Miami Beach. In this connection I remember the passage an undertow of France's red lily which many of you have undoubtedly read in which I don't talk proud speaks and I think this is the quotation of the majestic equality of the law which forbids the rich as well as the poor from sleeping under bridges and begging in the streets for bread. In other words it's not enough to offer equal facilities to parties and candidates some of who cannot afford to pay back. Now if elections are a public contest. And then as is true that the wavelengths are not
private property. Then as and let me develop that point a little bit. The radio and television companies would like to have us forget that the wavelengths up. Really nobody knows except the community the community leases the mop to private property and they most of them make a good deal of money last year five million eight hundred thousand dollars. But this is conditional upon the performance of certain public duties. Now I would like to have the radio and television companies come forward out of a sense of public duty and offer their star in return for the stewardship which has been given them. They cannot promise unlimited time would have to be limited and would have to be parceled out between parties and candidates. But certainly the voters are entitled to some of this stuff in return for the airwaves. If they don't do this voluntarily we should at least consider the question whether that should not be a condition or a license.
Another person to speak my mind on this whole matter of campaign expenditures was an Alabama musician David Marx or he had a suggestion on the financing of campaigns. I think that perhaps the best system the fairest system would be to finance the elected. That is the candidates through government funds which are taxed are taken from the people in the form of taxes. This way it would make equal our fair play equal opportunities for each candidate so to speak and eliminate the possibilities of graft by contribution to the funds. Just seems strange to our American way I suppose
but in my in my idea that would be the fairest way to do it through taxes. Senator Douglas acknowledged that this idea had some possibilities but he said that he himself had not made up his mind on this point. I'm not a tossup No that's correct. But at least before university audience you could advance it as a possibility. You know it would undoubtedly be impossible to pass such an act in the present state of public opinion because of the fact that most people regard politics as somewhat degrading. I see a few lawyers in the audience it's extraordinary how judges after they are appointed Raghad politics degraded. I am. Will although I noticed that after I was elected senator I became suddenly very sought after by every member of the bar whose income exceeded $5000 a year. Well
the average voter now I can quite frankly it met with not wish to have the expenses of politics the campaigns paid for out of taxes. Regard it as an improper exercise of a public function. Being opposed to more taxes anyway. It's a silly we shouldn't give these politicians more money with which to operate but the voter does not realize that he already paid for the cost of these political campaigns and after the election pays for the cost of the campaigns and the privileges which government deals out which ultimately come from the great mass of the people. The oil industry loves now to finance campaigns that oppose favor some candidates the foes of the candidate they probably contribute millions of dollars to campaigns. Lord God are they not repaid. If blood be the price of Admiralty as Kipling said Lord God we have paid in full and civil it was us.
Now that will be many technical problems that would be many technical problems if such a proposal were to be adopted. One would be the question of how many parties you should fight against. As I get older whether it's a hardening of the arteries or political expediency I one thing or another I find merits in the two party system which at one time were not as keen and vivid in my mind. I think on the whole the American two party system while apparently illogical that it is superior to the multi-party system of the continent because it forces compromises to be made inside a party since and this refers also to the fact that in America our parties are not purely class parties forces compromises to be made inside a party with the result that the consequent struggle between parties is not as better.
And also with the fact that it gives you greater stability at any one time because any one party generally has the majority. So on the whole I've become. In the last 15 years a convert to the American two party system. But of course at times the two parties both become pretty bad. Add to that the necessity for new parties to arise. Now you can't shut those off completely yet. Obviously you cannot finance every crackpot party or candidate who presents himself. What is the answer. Answer may possibly be along the lines of the pretty sister namely that you would not finance any party that did not had not either previously or subsequently polled 10 percent of the vote. Does a certain hardship to new parties but the rather complicated questions was to whether you would apply this to primaries as well as to the final election. My judgment you would have to do so because the primary
in some states is the election of the one party states and even in the two party states the real choices frequently take place in the primaries and the election is secondary. Here again you can make some limitations. I merely want to throw this suggestion out for what it is worth and ask you to consider it on its merits. It has disadvantages but it may be no sorry if we are to enable the pros to choose between candidates and parties just not have everything weighed. The side of those who have the money. Some of the people who talk back to Senator Douglas wondered what his views were on the matter of the annual declarations of income by public officials and whether he thought this was an invasion of privacy. Senator Douglas took a clear stand on this issue.
I think perhaps I was turned to a suggestion which I should like to advance by both senators and congressman and for administrative officials in policymaking positions and I would define that group those receiving $10000 a year and above that proposal is that we make an annual declaration of total income. And the sources from which we obtain that income. I repeat we make an annual sworn statement of total income. Including our wife's income and the sources from which we may proceed. Why do I make this suggestion because it would be a tremendous deterrent against bad conduct. Men go wrong card only because they think they can send in private and enjoy the fruits of said but not be detected by the public.
Public opinion is a very powerful force. We've all seen men who committed suicide because of wrong things which they have done. She's never been punished legally but which have been detected by public opinion and made life unbearable public is a very powerful force even in its present state but it cannot operate without knowledge. Now I know there are objections to this. It would interfere with privacy which I think is all too often interfered with today. Nevertheless we've got to such a pass in this country. We need reassurance that I believe way and public our public office is such a great honor that men should be willing to pay some price for the reception of the sun. Time for one last question. The number of people in
New York Birmingham Columbus and Boston wanted to know what Senator Douglas thought about better pay for public officials as a possible solution to the problem of corruption in government. A member of the audience at the Guardian lectures also put this question to Senator Douglas by trotting out the old analogy of the carrot and the stick. The questioner asked Senator Douglass whether he wasn't relying too heavily on the stick in prescribing his code of ethics for public officials. Wouldn't the carrot of better pay get more results. Senator Douglas in replying said he was for more pay. He warned however against believing that you solve all ethical difficulties by increasing the income of people so that they are removed from temptation always the temptation to get more than you have. I'm for more pay but I still think a code of ethical proprieties would be necessary for
$20000 you have met. As for $10000 you have none. And besides this you shouldn't expect to get in public employee the same salary that you got to private industry. I'll tell you why. Because presumably you're serving the public and you should get a sense of psychic satisfaction from doing it which is the most precious thing on earth. Before the. War was for Senator Paul each got closer with more and. More of his suggestions on improving the level of ethics in government. This has been the final program in the series. The people talk back. For the past hour or so we've tried to match the questions and comments of people in different parts of the country with some of the views expressed by Senator Douglass in his three Godkin lectures at Harvard University during January 1952. The lectures were the basis of Senator
Douglas book on ethics in government recently published by the Harvard University Press. The Lecture Series totaled nearly seven hours and we of course have merely presented excerpts from the series. The recordings of the people talking back were made possible through the cooperation of any e member stations and producers. Walter Whitaker and Rob Sears w o a FM University of Alabama and William H Ewing w o s u. HIERO State University. The God can lectures were recorded by station WGBH in Boston. This is Parker weakly speaking that people talk back. He's produced and edited by Ralph telling me of WGBH. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters and they're made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an
independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. This is the and B take network.
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People talk back
Ethics in government, part three
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the third of three parts, explores "Ethics in Government" with Senator Paul H. Douglas of Illinois.
Series Description
This series presents a series of questions posed to politicians about current affairs.
Broadcast Date
Politics and Government
United States--Politics and government--20th century.
Media type
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Merton, Robert King, 1910-2003
Producer: Tangley, Ralph
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Wheatley, Parker, 1906-1999
Speaker: Douglas, Paul, 1892-1976
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 53-13-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:20:04
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Chicago: “People talk back; Ethics in government, part three,” 1953-03-05, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “People talk back; Ethics in government, part three.” 1953-03-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: People talk back; Ethics in government, part three. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from