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President Lowell spoke to the Government Club at the Colonial Club last evening on the subject of "Research in Government." Preceding President Lowell's talk, Professor A. B. Hart '80 spoke on the growing demand upon universities to send out in to the world men well educated in the world men well educated in the problems of government.
President Lowell said that the great difficulty encountered in government research is that the facts and theories of government are very far apart, that until the facts are mastered, the real machinery of government cannot be known. In the research necessary to discover these facts there are two sources which may be consulted: Books and men. The great faults to be found in books are that they are often compiled from other books and therefore give expression to theories and supposed facts which are really obsolete truths. They are deliberate thoughts and cannot be asked questions. Yet even in consulting men there is the constant danger that they, too, are not alive to the facts as they really stand. So the research student, if he expects to carry on his work successfully, must himself have formed imaginative ideas of what he is going to find drawn from the study of local conditions. He must have questions ready, in order to draw forth the facts which really exist. As an example, in the whole municipal government of England theory and fact are widely separated. We generally believe and the English public believes also that city government in England is efficient because it is in the control of the best men elected by the people. But an investigator, armed with the thought that the council is not a model body, finds that in well-governed boroughs it is a mere check on the rule of permanent experts, and that in poorly governed boroughs the experts are under the control of a powerful council.
This actual portrayal of present day facts of government is one of the greatest needs of our country. In it lies the key to our future welfare. It is because corporations are guided by experts who know the facts and have followed the course of events that they can continually outwit the force of changing officials of the government who are unacquainted with their posts and have no time to learn their duties properly. No great republic has yet been able to use experts and retain its republican government; and it remains for us to find a means of using them and controlling them, or of losing our efficiency and power without them, or of becoming an autocracy under them.
Research in government should consider all this and should show the people what they need, in order that they may reach the desired degree of governmental efficiency. It should show them that engineering, education, and sanitation must follow in the footsteps of the expert body of the law, that the proper way to use experts is, as facts have shown in English cities, to let them run their departments as they think best, provided always that they are under the supervision of a lay official who simply moderates their desires according to popular sentiment. That is the purpose and duty of research in government
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