The recent action of Congress in rejecting the State Department's bill providing for an increase in diplomatic salaries is one which most thoughtful citizens will deplore. Our present scale of salaries is woefully inadequate, the compensation in the higher grades averaging about one-third of that paid by other powers. Under such circumstances it is not strange that most persons find themselves unable to accept important positions; and partly as a result of this, no less than fifteen of our diplomatic posts are at present vacant, at a time when our interests urgently demand representatives of the highest order.
Too often the diplomatic service has suffered from the cry of "undemocratic" raised by politicians at home. The fact is, however, that under present conditions the service is of necessity open chiefly to the wealthy, who alone can afford to accept its burdens. At present diplomacy does not offer an over-attractive career, to college graduates and others (no matter what their qualifications), unless they possess independent resources. Even if we overlook its unfairness, such a state of affairs certainly does not conduce to efficiency. The diplomatic service is of constantly increasing importance to the country. Adequate compensation is the first step toward securing competent representatives; and in this direction we should not be influenced by false ideas of "economy."