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Rural Government

( Originally Published 1915 )

Rural Government Inefficient.—Rural government in the United States to-day is inert and dead. People should not be asked these days to die for their country but they should be asked to live for it. We need men and women who have made a special study of rural government and governmental problems. We need more men who live in the country and have time to take hold and, without necessarily holding office, see to it that money used by rural officers is economically used and that officers do the work of governing the country as well as do the officers in our best governed cities. We have had inventions for city governments such as the commission form, the juvenile courts, the humane office, and others ; why not have inventions for governing the country ? Instead of local farmers being constables, we need mounted police like the mounted police of Canada. Certainly we need police who will make melons and fruit as safe in the farmers' patches as they are in the merchants' stores. We need officers who will make eggs and poultry as safe in the farmers' hen houses as they are in the city man's meat market or store. Let us hope that we may be able to find a more satisfactory judge than the ordinary farmer who frequently acts as Justice of the Peace.

The inference is not that everything in the country is bad, but the world is advancing, and rural social institutions should change as freely and keep as well up to date as are farm methods and farm machines. The reason rural government lags behind is that farmers are conservative and they are busy, law-abiding people, and hence do not use the machinery of government enough to keep it in good running order. But, as with fire protection, they need it in times of emergency. There are places in the United States where the better families will not live. Woman-hood is not safe, property is not safe, and good land in those districts is selling for one-half of what it is in other places. The efficient race will be the ruling race. The efficient community is the advancing community; let us have wise minds to consider what changes are best, and to see that the country people are protected by government as efficiently as are people in the best governed cities. Nothing less will make the country attractive to the best families.

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