|Government Retrenchment and Government Corruption
|Digital History ID 3113|
In recent years, politicians from both parties have called
for efforts to eliminate wasteful government expenditures and
to balance the federal budgets. During the late 1870s and 1880s,
retrenchment was a very serious matter, especially in the South.
Salaries of many government officials were slashed dramatically.
Some southern states reduced by half. To discourage its legislature
from remaining in session too long, Texas cut the pay of legislators
from $5 to $2 a day if they met for more than 60 days every two
Ironically, the attempts to scale back government spending
coincided with a spectacular wave of government corruption. Iowa
built a new state capitol only to find out that its foundation
stones had cracked and had to be replaced. New York spent $13
million on a county court house, including $100,000 on a table
and chairs. In Louisiana, a state treasurer was accused of stealing
$777,000. His counterpart in Tennessee was accused of taking $400,000.
One Republican Senator, Joseph Foraker, received more than $44,000
in "lobbying fees" in a single year from John D. Rockefeller.
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