The dismissal by President Harding of twenty-eight executive officials from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has not only created considerable adverse criticism but also has served to bring up once more the whole Civil Service question. The President's action was decidedly contrary to the law enacted years ago to and the spoils system, in that by an executive order, the President discharged employees coming under the provisions of the law without the written charges required for such action. In fact he said there were no charges nor even reflections intended against them and is afterwards transpired that one of the men had been commended in writing to the Secretary of the Treasury two hours before his discharge arrived.
Such an action can hardly be counted as befitting any Administration; but the statement of Assistant Postmaster Bartlett in connection, with it is far more important, questioning as it does the efficacy of the Civil Service system for higher offices. According to General Bartlett, every Administration needs higher officials which it can trust with its plans for accomplishing great reforms, and employees who act as tale-bearers for the minority are a severe handicap and menace to the handling of the Government. In other words, the Civil Service is only for the lower employees and cannot be applied to the positions of authority.
The purpose of the Civil Service Law, however, is not so much to keep politics out of the Government as to see to it that the efficient workers are retained no matter what changes of administration take place. An excellent example of Civil Service at its best exists in England where government positions are highly honorable offices and men are trained to the work which is recognized as a regular path to the peerage. Such a system is apparently perfectly workable there and is subject to none of the political shifts which occur. Granting that unfinished plans often look poorly in print, a return to the spoils system to avoid tale-bearing seems like cutting off the nose to spite the face.