Home >> The-science-of-finance >> Administration Of The Tax to Voluntary Aids >> The Personal Service Required

The Personal Service Required by the State the Civil Service


§ 176. The relation of the state to those persons who consti tute the living forces of which the state's activity is a product, is necessarily conditioned by the stage of constitutional develop ment attained; for this latter expresses the relation in which the citizen stands to the formation and execution of the national will.

In primitive political organizations where the sphere of the state is small and the public functions are of a correspondingly low degree of development, this relation has a simplicity such as will not serve the purpose of a great complex of functions. At the same time it is to be noted that always after a higher stage of culture has been reached, the influence of democratic ideas, resting as they do on the fundamental concept of a free people [freier Volksstaatl, leads at least to the effort to maintain a semblance of this primitive simplicity in the relation between citizen and state. Indeed, this democratic idea is never lost, so that under every conceivable constitution of the state, in every development of the bureaucracy, some trace of it is discoverable. In any civilized community there will always be two distinct elements in the activity of those operative forces that constitute the state a living whole.

The one is the element of division of labor between' state and society; the other is the element of personal participation of the citizen in the affairs of the state.

The latter follows from the claim of every civilized people— especially at the stage of national development which we occupy today—to have some part in the shaping of its own destiny. The former results from the requirements of the principle of division of labor—valid for all stages of culture—both as conducive to a fuller development of the individual capacities of the citizens and to the efficient performance of the work of society.

The overlapping of these two elements gives us that peculiar mixture of the two which characterizes the civil service at the present stage of political development.

§ 177. This mixture of the two elements assumes a different form under the different national constitutions of the present day.

Democracy, as it exists in the Swiss Federation, or in the United States of America, true to its name, seeks to realize the participation of the people in the legislation and administration of the state as effectually as may be. After all the concessions which democracy may make to the principle of division of labor, it still leaves the lines of demarkation of a democratic self government so vaguely and loosely drawn that the distinction between State and Society is at best a shifting and uncertain one.

It is very significant, how, even under a constitution of this sort, the contrast between professional employment in the service of the state and the general participation of the people in state action, asserts itself.

In the first place, by the very letter of the constitution and the laws of the land, the actual participition by the people is reduced to the dimensions of a ballot and an election, which, however frequent and burdensome they may appear to the body of the people absorbed in their private business, are, after all, when measured by the standard of a vital popular participation in legislation and government, but a scanty substitute. But far more than appears from the letter of the law does it appear, in the actual political life which has grown up under these forms of law, that there exists an irresistible gravitative force, in con sequence of which the decisions of this minion-headed popular will are really made by comparatively very few men, who have adopted politics as a calling. Whether the ballot be made to apply to general or to special legislation, whether to the selection of subordinate or of superior officials,—there always lies back of the semblance of a decision by the majority the reality of a de cision by a small number of politicians. In this contradiction between appearances and reality lies the danger to this particular form of national life ; inasmuch as what, under other forms of national organization, is honestly recognized as a necessity, and therefore need not be hidden from the light of day, will here become the occasion for a systematic falsification of the facts.

But there is one point at which, as a genuine development of the modern age, this form of government takes its place side by side with that form of which it is the exact opposite, viz., the purely bureaucratic state. This is the absolute necessity of payment for all actual work done in the service of the state in a democratic com munity. Since the attractiveness and honor of this work are not a sufficient inducement, in a democratic society, to attract men of independent means ; since it is rather of the nature of such a society that every household should depend on its own labor for its subsistence ; therefore, work performed in the employ of the state must be paid in like manner as all other professional work.

The consequence is a comprehensive system of salaries and allowances ; all the more comprehensive the more highly devel oped the democracy, and the more fully conscious it consequently is of its divergence from the principle of division of labor that underlies modern society. Only, the lax organization of this civil service does not admit of any length or security of tenure, which, under the political circumstances, is to a great extent not even desired. As short intervals between elections as possible— in the interest of liberty,—no life tenure, and consequently no pension system. Only in cases where the traditions of earlier times and a corresponding sentiment on the part of the populace, admit of it, is this folly of short terms of service to some extent neutralized by repeated re-election of the same officials. But this does not happen where party lines are closely drawn, and where the chance of rich spoils of office makes each recurring election a chase after fresh booty.

§ 178. Since it is impossible for all to bear a part in the every day business of the state, it is quite conceivable that even under a democratic constitution—and numerous historical instances go to prove it—an inevitable tendency towards the domination of a few will concentrate authority in the hands of a few wealthy families. These will then come to hold the offices of the state by a sort of hereditary right, without sacrificing the accessories of a democratic form of government ; rather, these latter will be retained as a convenient cloak for a popular administration of the government at their hands.

• This would be a case where democracy, either openly or cov ertly, passes over into aristocracy.

In other countries, again, we find, as the outcome of the past development of society and of the national organization in the direction of aristocratic rule, that the aristocracy manages the affairs of the state with but a slight survival of democratic forms.

Under the rule of an aristocracy there is no place for the con tradiction that exists in any democratic society between a nom inal popular sovereignty and the actual sovereignty of a few on the gne hand, and between the universal duty of participation in the service of the state and payment for such service on the other hand. In the place of All, we have, even as a legal fact, only a minority; in the place of a demand for payment of work done for the state, we have the hereditary wealth of the ruling families.

Only when this result has been reached, can the State's work be done simply out of inclination for the work, from motives of honor and patriotism, without regard to any economic return. This is the ideal of a free commonwealth; it is the ancient ideal of a life spent in the service of the state and for the state's sake ; it is the grand and undying conception handed down from anti quity, of a freeman's whose spirit instinctively recoils from the thought of a pecuniary motive. These features, which elevate the concept of an aristocracy to an ideal height, serve to direct our attention to the wide divergence between this ideal and the reality.

The hackneyed example of such a national constitution is England. For centuries past there has been in England a ruling class backed by great wealth, more particularly by landed prop erty. The better element of this class has habitually spent its life in the service of the nation, in the minor civil divisions per forming the duties of local self-government, in the central gov ernment constituting the legislative and executive organs.

But even this favorite example manifests the shortcomings of an aristocracy under the conditions existing in a great modern state. For, in the first place, the ethico-political question has hitherto remained an unsettled one, as to how far the aristocracy of England has actually given its life to the service of the state, and not rather made the state a means of furthering its own class interest, so that its ostensibly gratuitous service may, in point of fact, have been dearly paid by the English nation. In the second place, this aristocratic official system has eventuated in a system of salaried offices, with the pay calculated on the scale of an aris tocratic standard of living, whose character of permanency, together with the exacting work and the considerable expense involved, has made a high salary appear indispensable (embas sies, diplomatic positions, high judicial positions, etc.). In the third place, it lies in the nature of an aristocracy that, while it will take up its abode in the higher altitudes of the official system, it will leave all the lower lying regions to the care of an unpropertied and consequently paid class of professional officials, except so far as the moderate duties of office in these lower stations and the immoderate salaries attached to them may make them available as a provision for younger sons and younger brothers.

But when it happens—as has happened in England during the last generation—that the stress of the modern democratic movement acts constantly more and more to displace such an aristocratic constitution, and to develop a feeling of distrust on part of the majority of the people towards the traditional aris tocratic administration of the affairs of state—in such a case the system of salaried professional officials will irresistibly gain ground in parish and in county affairs, as well as in the numerous administrative bodies required by the increased demand of the new life of society. So that the end of the development is the payment of members of parliament—discontinued centuries ago, when the transition was made from a democratic to an aristo cratic constitution of parliament.

Herewith the transition is made to the " functionary" state, which is the form that must be adopted if the modern state is to meet the requirements of our democratic society in a satisfactory manner.

§ 179. The functionary state [Beamtenstaat] (often slight ingly spoken of as a "bureaucracy ") is the logical outcome of circumstances. The principle of the division of labor demands a specialized, professional civil service in order to an adequate performance of the increased duties due to increased social wants, just as advancing civilization gives rise to new employ ments and professions.

Germany, in its development since the close of the Middle Ages, presents the classic example of a functionary state. The peculiar character of such a state lies in a frank acceptance of the fact that the profession of the civil service, just as any other profession, must afford a livelihood to the people who fol low it. The civil service takes its stand on the pay-roll of the country, and this latter, whether it goes by this name or by any other, must, economically considered, in the last analysis, fall under the .concept of Wages.' There are views held on this point somewhat at variance with that expressed above. In part these rest on a confusion of genus and species, in that they place the concept of allowances, pay, salary, in contrast with wages, while all these are prop erly to be classed under the general head of wages ; in part they rest on the notion that the peculiar organization of the working force of functionaries is an element sufficiently charac teristic to differentiate the maintenance afforded by the pay-roll, graded as it is by rank, from wages ; while this matter of organi zation is, in point of fact, nothing but a question of detail, with respect to which the practice in the civil service differs from that of the competitive labor market.

The substratum of fact on which these views rest amounts to this, that there are certain special constituent elements in this class of work and wages that are still struggling for recogni Cf. Zeitschrift fit,- die gesantntle Staatswissenschaft, 1881, pp. 52 et seq. Also Ihering, Zweck int Reeht, vol. i. pp. 186 et seq. (2nd ed., 1884). Adolph Wagner, Finanzwissenschajt, vol. i. p. 34o.

tion as such, due to the fact that an undertrained economic speculation has denied them their proper place.

There is one point with respect to which economic science, in spite of much vacillation and many misconceptions, has in the main been fairly consistent from the early days of scientific writing down to the present. This is the principle that the rate of wages rests on the necessary, traditional standard of living proper to the persons concerned. From Turgot, Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Cairnes, down to the latest authorities in the science the principle has been uniformly accepted that the "nat ural " price of labor depends on the cost of living of the laborer. The advance in this matter—and this is true in general of the position of . the science today as compared with a century ago— consists simply in a recognition of the fact that this natural price is measured by a moral standard.

The pay which the state allows its functionaries is nothing else than this. It vouchsafes a livelihood commensurate with the requirements of rank, in accord with the postulates of the scien tific doctrine of wages. So also the provision for old age, for infirmity, for widows and orphans, is nothing but a legitimate extension of the principle of a graded standard of living so as to apply to the household, such as has long been recognized by the commonly accepted theory of wages.

The facts of everyday life likewise go to show that prepara tion for, and application for admission into, the civil service is chosen or avoided in very much the same fashion as other ways of earning a livelihood. The question is whether the civil serv ice offers greater economic advantages than these other similar occupations. As is sufficiently established by repeated instances in German countries, every increase in the pay offered by the state attracts a greater number of candidates, while conversely, whenever the offer of the state falls short of the inducements offered by business, this number decreases.

§ 180. The nature of wages is by no means such as to exclude the possibility of the presence, in the work for which they are paid, of psychological factors that are not strictly of an economic character.

The fact that the extra-enonomic factors do not predominate —and for the reason that an economic (pecuniary) basis is indis pensable to the work so long as it has no economic support from an independent, extraneous source—is for the present purpose altogether decisive as to the character of the state pay. The graduated livelihood which the state guarantees expresses an unreserved acceptance on the part of the state, of the economic necessity formulated by the theory of wages. If it were true, as has been asserted, that the emoluments of office are of a " mixed " nature—being made up partly of honor and partly of money—then it would have to hold true that a deduction should be made from the money payment because of the honor. But that position is manifestly untenable. It may happen that the state declines to meet its full obligation in this respect ; and this, again, is possible only in case the aggregate income of the functionary is made up of two distinct economic elements—in case the salary is helped out by independent means. But this

latter is an aristocratic element which the bureaucratic state is by its nature estopped from counting on.

Are we to say that the honor of the office of an English Lord Chief Justice is so much less than that of a judge in a Prussian provincial court, as would be indicated by the fact that the former receives an annual salary ten or twenty times as great as that received by the latter ? Or is the honor of the position of Archbishop of Canterbury so slight that it is necessary to make good to the incumbent, in his notoriously large revenue, what is lacking in the way of honor in his position, as compared with the Prussian Superintendent General ? This can of course not be taken seriously. The truth is rather that the entire notion of such a "mixed compensation" is due to the impression produced by the scantiness of our German salaries, and this latter is in its turn a result of the very general poverty of the German social economy and of the German finances. In placing the salaries of its functionaries as low as we find them, the German state has been guided partly by the traditional standards of living in vogue in our society, and partly by a parsimony imposed by the scantiness of its resources. The view that a payment in terms of " honor " may possibly replace the maintenance due its functionaries is entirely unworthy of the state.

There is but one alternative possible : either the state, in violation of its obligation toward its professional official class, requires them to get along on half pay, or it counts on a supple mentary income from their private means—a presumption which wjll hold only in exceptional cases.

§ 181. But even if what has been said above sufficiently indicates what is the character of the salaries of officials under normal circumstances, at the same time that it clears up the confusion involved in contrasting salaries with wages, it is to be noted that the same factors are decisive in fixing the salaries of civil servants as in fixing the wages of other occupations ; especially is this true when they are compared with wages in the liberal professions.

There is one vocation which, in Germany, is always crowded, ,and which, apart from a few notable exceptions, offers a miser ably scanty pay for very exacting work. This is the vocation of the trained musician. The necessary prerequisite for this work is a special endowment ; and, conversely, this special endowment constitutes a powerful incentive to adopt this vocation. This of such a Supreme Court of Judicature receives 14,000 marks (£686) ; a judge of the supreme court of the Empire 12,000 marks (£588) ; the highest judiciary in the German Empire, the President of the Supreme Court, 25,000 marks (£1225), besides lodgings. A Superintendent General receives 9,00o marks ; the President of the Superior Evangelical Ecclesiastical Council 21,000 marks (£1,030).

subjective incentive of talent urges to the choice of this vocation in spite of the inadequate pecuniary results to be obtained. This incentive is also greatly reinforced by habit and by the example of parents from whom the talent and the profession have been inherited.

Something similar is to be observed with respect to the official class, and especially in the German service. The part played in the musician's profession by artistic endowment is in the case of the civil service filled by a lively sense of loyalty to the state, which has become a heritage in official circles. Tradition handed down from generation to generation con stitutes a nexus between the man and the state that persists under circumstances where, for the majority of men, such attach ment has been lost. In like manner as the artistic leaning urges to the acceptance of a meagre livelihood, so in this case the ingrained sentiment of attachment to the state renders the individual to a certain extent unable to decline the offer of a scanty living. Indeed the traditional union of these two things, of poverty and attachment to the state, has in a great number of instances brought forth fruits which were quite marvelous in their way.

Still, all this is not as it should be. It is unworthy of the state to take advantage of this offer of services which, under given circumstances, may be coupled with an exceedingly low standard of living.

It is, however, by no means to be asserted that the excessive number of candidates for the civil service today are uniformly to be fairly compared, in point of disinterestedness, with the musi cians spoken of above. The fact is, rather, that in very many cases the predominant motive in the choice of their calling is a pecuniary one, often without any admixture whatever of nobler motives.

§ 182. If these considerations bring us to the conclusion that the personal service required in a bureaucratic state, even that required for the higher and the highest functions of the state, should be paid for according to the general principle of wages, there still remains a further point for consideration.

We may properly speak of difference in the psychological character of different kinds of labor. The higher grades of labor, the " liberal " professions, are more reserved about the matter of accepting pay than other forms of labor. Since this is a phenomenon of a psychological nature, it is influenced by the course of historical development. It may be maintained that in the sentiments with which we today regard the service rendered to the state (and services of a similar character) there is a sense of something not adequately covered by a pecuniary reward, which in a certain sense discountenances such payment and crowds it into the background, as being an unwelcome necessity which is not willingly recognized in words. This thought of pecuniary reward is repugnant to a delicate moral sense, which hereby pronounces in favor of a civil service freed from the constraint of existing social conditions.

There is at least one thing forcibly suggested by the presence of this social constraint, namely, that the payment for services rendered to the state should be made in such a form as would to the least possible extent offend this delicate sense of propriety. In like manner as at an earlier stage the state will usually bind up its duties with the private interests of its agents, before it has reached the point where it acquires an official class possessed of a due sense of devotion to the public service—so also when a salaried civil service is employed. Here this earlier stage of development is represented by the fee system, which makes the concession to human infirmity of attaching to each particular act of the state official a particular recompense, and by this means keeps him to the performance of his work when it would other wise be neglected.

This piece-wages system, which is very confidently recom mended for adoption in the lower grades of work, is opposed to the very nature of the higher grades. If these latter cannot be made gratuitous (" liberal" in the ancient sense of the word) they must at least not be made to submit to the stigma that they are performed piece by piece for money. The man must devote his entire energies to the service of the state as such, and the state's provision for his maintenance is to be carefully discon nected from the performance of the state's work. The developed constitutional form of the state, as contrasted with the method of personal government, meets this requirement. The annual salary paid from the public treasury enables the state official to live his life for his official duties alone, and free from all pecuniary concern.

Wherever we find remnants of the fee-system still existing today, they are survivals of the old order, of the old state, which has yet to make way before the progress of modern ideas. They are antiquated abuses which the self-seeking functionaries clothe in a garment of reverence, while they ought to perceive that in so doing they are degrading their own dignity far below the gen eral level of the modern state and its functions.

183. With the adoption of the system of fixed salaries for the professional civil service, graduated according to the stand ard of living appropriate to the rank of each (and similar pro visions for the salaries of communal, provincial and other like officials), a distinction which is characteristic of the aristocratic method of filling offices disappears, viz., the distinction between the superior, the honorary offices proper (honores, magistratus), and those commonplace services performed for the state and the commune that are paid in the same manner as the meaner occu pations of everyday life.

The distinctions with which we are here concerned are those which depend on differences of grade in the services rendered by the functionaries, together with the consequent differences in the qualifications required of the candidates, and the different ways and means by which the state makes provision for a grad uated livelihood in keeping with the standard of living proper to the rank of each.

The various distinctive classes of work required by public service depend, just as do the different kinds of work offered in the labor market and the higher grades of work in industrial life, on a difference in intellectual endowment and training. Just as in the ordinary demand for labor there is a gradation of services from the simplest mechanical occupations up to the highest classes of intellectual labor, so also in the service of the state and of the commune. Just as in the general industrial organiza tion this gradation of services runs parallel with a gradation of society according to wealth, breeding, education,—so also here. In both spheres alike do we therefore also find the same connec tion between the rank of the social class in question, and the length of the period of education and the beginning of profitable labor. The lower the culture, the lower the social class, the earlier do the necessities of life put in their claim and so shorten the period available for.the education requisite to independence, and extend the years of gainful labor backwards into childhood. The higher the culture, the more elastic is the pressure exerted by the necessities of life as against the requirements of the education and preparation necessary for the person's life-work, and the more time is consequently allowed for meeting these requirements.

But inasmuch as the ideal of development in this direction would lead us to the aristocratic ideal which discountenances any pecuniary object in the professional service rendered the state, it follows that the ideal of the bureaucratic state lies within nar row limits—limits marked off by the exigencies of the economic situation, frequently opposed to the quasi-aristocratic ideals which influence the body of state officials and even the national admin istration itself.' § 184. Under the influence of such ideas as these it has come about that provision for a properly graduated scale of mainte nance for the official class, in spite of the many improvements that have been made, remains so very inadequate, even in such a classic example of a bureaucratic state as has been developed in Germany.

The difficulties of the matter are, of course, considerable ; very much in proportion to the grade of work and the prepara tion required.

In the first place, there is the' difficulty of maintaining an equilibrium between the personal services actually required, both as to quantity and quality, and the supply,—in view of the already excessive inclination to enter the civil service, which would be increased by every improvement made in the scale of mainte nance of the official class. In point of fact, the number of can didates for the civil service has been excessive, with the result that the service has been underpaid and the period of prepara tion and waiting has been unduly lengthened, while the require ments in the way of qualification for the-work have declined in a corresponding degree.

In the second place, skilled and specialized work in the civil service is of such a nature as to prevent its being begun very early in life or continued down to a very late period. A letter carrier in the service of the German Imperial Post-office might very well enter the service as soon as he had passed the primary school and had devoted a few additional years to the develop ment of his physical and intellectual energies. He might, with out detriment to the service, continue in the same occupation, supposing his health to be normal, until old age. It is otherwise with respect to the higher functions of the government—in the administration of justice and other like offices. The difficult character of the work to be performed requires a preparation in school, university and practical experience, together with the passing of the necessary state examinations, such as to extend the period of education (taken in the broadest sense) down to the twenty-eighth or thirtieth year. And then it is also true that the period during which these hard-won intellectual and moral powers can be employed to the best advantage is a limited one and does not reach anywhere near the termination of life, although it is true that in actual practice they frequently continue to be employed until a very advanced period.

There is but one of the higher professions in Germany in which this last requirement is, on the whole, lived up to with considerable strictness. This is the officers of the army. The excellence of the body of officers as a whole is due to the fact that a sifting process is constantly going on, that a great portion of the officers are weeded out at a comparatively early age, in the prime of manhood, and that only in cases of very high position, with men of unusually good connections, is that indul gence exercised which is the rule in the higher grades of the civil service proper.

The severity of the strict requirements in the case of the army officers, only to a slight extent affected by an early partial provision for the young lieutenant, calls attention to the shortcomings of the state in the matter of adequate pro vision for its officials ; just as connivance at the continuance in office of superannuated and infirm functionaries does in the civil service. The fact that an officer is past usefulness for his profession before he has reached his fiftieth year, and that this is not the exception but the rule for the majority of the members of the profession, imposes on the state the duty of a generous provision for such cases, in place of the inadequate pension system hitherto employed ; just as the retention of office by an infirm judge after his continuance in the serv ice has become detrimental to the interests of the state should be prevented by such a pension system as will afford an economic justification for a seasonable removal from office.

If it is further borne in mind, as Engel, particularly, has impressively shown, that a great part of this function'ary class and of the army officers is recruited from the same social class generation after generation, the difficulties in the way will become sufficiently evident, and the problems which the state has yet to solve in the matter of an adequate maintenance of its servants will be seen to be stupendous.

labor, life, wages, class and democratic