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November 20, 1921 - Image 1

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4 r ,at B il
"En Bloc"-Pro and Con

(By Hughsten 3. McBain)
"En bloc" has, literally, sprung into
common usage in this country over
night. Its origin probably dates far
back when the French language was
invented, or whatever one might care
to call it.
Today a great change can be seen
in our national Congress. We find,
not as has always been the case
through the history of the United
States, that the Republican and Demo-
cratic parties seem to have lost some
of their powerful methods of "driving
measures through Congress." For,
though it has been fermenting for
some years, the so-called "en bloc
system" has really just come into its
own at the present session of Con-
Before going further with a discus-
sion of the dangers and the advant-
ages of the system, we might betterl
consider what "en bloc" really is,
what it means today.
"The bloc system grew out of the
American Farm Bureau Federation,"
said Prof. Joseph R. Hayden of the
political science department. "It or-
iginated in the movement for govern-
mental assistance to farmers in solv-
ing technical problems. County agents
were appointed who gave the farmers
expert advice on marketing, buying,
etc. From this point, it was an easy
step to experiment with collective buy-
ing and co-operative warehouses. Soon
the states were organized and then
came the National Farm Bureau Fed-
Professor Hayden went on to tell
how, when the terrible slump came
after the war, the state and national
federations of farm bureaus turned
from economic means to political, or-
ganizing a "bloc" in Congress, which
is, after all, merely a group of men
working with one common aim. Memb-
ers of the bloc and the federation meet
once a week and together work out a
legislative program. They have two
1. To pass measures which are
directly intended to help the farm-
2. To help the farmer succeed,
for they believe that the nation
can not be prosperous unless the
farmer is; consequently, matters
of a general legislative nature are
supported or opposed by the bloc
upon the basis of their indirect
effect upon agricultural interests.
"The Independent and The Weekly
Review" has summed up their ac-
complishments. The bloc, composed
of more than 20 men in the Senate
and more than 100 in the House, drove
through legislative channels the fol-
1. A law amending the act relat-
ing to the War Finance Corpora-

Prof. Hayden Tells Of The Strong Group
Which May Be Controlling

tion, previously revived in the ag-
ricultural interest, in such a man-
ner as to authorize that body to
advance $1,000,000,000 for #com-
mercial agricultural credits.
2. A law diverting" $25,000,000
from the Federal Treasury for ad-
ditional working capital for the
Farm Loan Banks.
3. A law bringing the meat pack-
ers and stockyards as thoroughly
under Federal control as the rail-
ways already are.
4. A law increasing the interest
rate on Farm Loan Bank bonds to
5Y%%, but leaving the rate to the
farm borrower the same as it was.
5. Emergency tariff law clauses
that make importation of competi-

After one iglances carefully over
these -accomplishments and hopes, it
can clearly be seen that the organi-
zation must be exceptionally powerful.
And then the natural question arises,
"Just why are they so strong and how
do they retain their power?"
Professor Hayden reflected a bit
at this question, but seemed to have
positive assurance when he said: "The
reason that the farmers' bloc in Con-
gress is so strong is that both the
House and Senate are organized en-
tirely on party lines; members al-
ways have voted in accordance with
the plans of their party leaders on
main issyes. But, the catch comes
when we see that the bloc is composed
of both Democrats and Republicans

As Samuel G. Blythe says in The Saturday Evening Post of
Nov. 5, the term "en bloc" was first used in the legislative
halls of the United States by the late John Dalzell of Pitts-
burgh, who, rising to his feet in the House of Representatives
said: "I move that the amendments to the bill be adopted
'en bloc.'" It appears that no one understood him and -upon
being sharply questioned by "a Western member," as to what
he meant, he explained that "en bloc" merely meant "as a
whole, all together." In the accompanying article, the use of
the term en bloc or bloc can easily be changed to "group" in
the mind of the reader. In European politics a "bloc" means a
coalition of several parties voting together to attain certain
common ends.

begin to see the possible danger of the
"Looking back down the long aisles
of history, I can recollect no powerful
controlling body not eventually stoop-
ing to this temptation. So, once again
we get down to facts. One of two
possible things must eventually be
done: first, some means could be de-
vised to hold the bloc responsible for
its acts; or, second, the authority to
control legislation could be put back
in the hands of the original parties
which are always held responsible for
their actions."
Blocs, groups, bodies, cliques, or
whatever one desires to call them are
absolutely nothing new. Ever since
the history of man has been written,
we find records of this group, that
party, and in the later world, these fra-
"All the old continental countries,"
said Professor Hayden, "have had
blocs based on class or economic in-
terests. The Agrarian group in the
German Reichstag was exceptionally
strong, being coniposed principally of
wealthy landowners. Then there have
been countless Roman Catholic blocs,
industrial blocs, and economic blocs
all of which, or others of the same
type, doubtless exist today. Most of
these 'older blocs, however, were in
legislatures divided into multi-party
groups. On the continent, they consid-
ered the drawbacks to the bloc system
that each group might put its own in-
terests ahead of the national aims.
"Several interesting questions arise,"
continued Professor Hayden. "Will
the bloc system be permanent? If so,
what will be the effect on the general
political system, especially the organ-
ization of Congress?
"The first question is hard to
answer. Practically no one can tell
as to what the outcome will be. How-
ever, if it does last, it will be abso-
lutely necessary to find some way to
hold the bloc responsible for its ac-
Professor Hayden concluded with
saying that in his opinion, the bloc is
merely a protest against what the
people think is the actual irresponsi-
bility of two parties; namely, the Re-
publican and Democrat.
Those who intend to enter the
short story contest should signify
their intentions by Friday, No-
vember 25. This does not mean
that the stories must be in by that
time. Those who send in their
nominations may have practically
as much time as they wish to
write the stories. -
Address all communications to
Literary Department of The
Michigan Daily.

tive agricultural products virtual-
ly impossible.
6. A law abolishing all trading
in "privileges" in grain exchanges,
curbing trading in futures, making
exchanges freely accessible to
farmers co-operative oranizations,
and generally illuminating them
with publicity and binding them
with Federal control.
The farmers are now driving hard
to push the remainder of their pro-
gram through, part of which is as
1. A bill giving full Federal
sanction, the anti-trust laws not-
withstanding, to farmers' co-oper-
ative marketing associations.
2. A bill to prohibit the manu-
facture of filled milk.
3. A "pure wool" bill, intending
to improve the market for wool by
restricting the use of shoddy and
substitutes for wool.
4. A bill to increase the maxi-
mum of individual Federal Farm
Loan Bank loan from $10,000 to
5. A Federal highway aid bill
along lines favored by farmers
and opposed by automobilists,

and is large enough to hold the balance
of power between the two parties!"
When one realizes that the Con-
gressional bloc has this great strength,
one cannot help wondering as to what
the dangers of the group might be.
And, be he more optimistic, he is sure
to ponder over the advantages of the
The bloc has advantages; it has
dangers. The advantages of the sys-
tem can easily be seen when one con-
siders that during the past few years
both old parties have been and are
now to a great extent controlled by
powerful industrial and financial
groups in the country. Although Con-
gressmen profess to legislate for the
national good, they do occasionally
give preference for the industrial and
financial interests.
"Then," commented Professor Hay-
den, "we get down to the purpose of
the farmers' bloc: to break up the
control of both old parties and to
compel Congress to legislate for the
general welfare. Yet, another big
question arises: If they really have
this power to dictate in Congress, how
long can they stand the temptation
not to use this power for any other
benefit than that of the country's? We

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