« PreviousContinue »
Probably I am putting a great deal of unnecessary earnestness and enthusiasm into a very obvious appeal. This measure from the standpoint of the Government is really a simple matter. The question really is, Is it advisable to have a more flexible organization ? The money involved is very small.
There are one or two other matters in connection with the bill that I might mention. One is the representation allowance which is provided for in section 12. We have found in recent years that it was necessary to supplement salaries by a post allowance to take care of the increased cost of living and in certain places to take care of differences in exchange, etc. I understand that the highest of these allowances, most of which are made to consuls, is $1,400. They do not go to highly salaried men. They go to help out in particular exigencies that have arisen in recent years. There ought to be a representation allowance; that is, a legislative basis for a representation allowance, because at different posts there are all kinds of exigencies. It may be in connection with the matter of renting an office; it may be in connection with matters of entertainment; it is all to promote, under regulations and under strict accountability as to expenditure, the efficiency of the officer at that post. Of course, even after the increases, that I have spoken of, are made in salaries, you are going to have men pretty close to the struggle for existence in almost all of these posts. After all is done that has been suggested, you are going to have men who will feel that there is not very much, if any, margin for them. They are called upon, of course, in connection with their work to hold up their end," not in any extravagant way.
Of course, if a man wants to live in a very free way and has the money to do it, and can extend the influence of this country without any inappropriate lavishness or demonstration, very well. He spends his own money in doing it. But there is the poor man, and I know many of them, who has not a cent but what he gets from his salary or his allowances, and he is in contact with the representatives of other countries who are far more liberal, I mean the countries are far more liberal than this country has ever been in connection with such matters. Representatives of the department are here who will give you a variety of details, but if you will take what the British Government allows its representatives, you will see it has a very keen appreciation of the value of maintaining a certain prestige in these diplomatic and consular posts. I hear every little while of the sagacity of the British in the conduct of their foreign affairs. I have no desire to detract from that reputation, but I call your attention to the fact that it has a very definite pecuniary basis, and in our case, too often that basis is lacking. Here again there is nothing extravagant about the present suggestion. It is kept within limitations which I hope you will think are entirely reasonable.
I have said that there should be provided a career as more of an inducement to the right men, who do not happen to have private means, to enter the service. But it is not enough to give them a mere living wage as they go along. Having entered this service as à career, it means that when they get through they are unfitted for anything else. They are down and out. Under no salary scale that this Government will ever give, certainly not under the one that is here suggested, will anybody lay up money. They can not do it.
What are they going to do when they come to 65 years of age, after thirty-odd years in the service? They can not go into anything else; they are through. There ought to be some provision for retirement allowances. What is the consequence at the present time? It is a consequence which is observed not only in our service, in the Department of State, but throughout the Government service, and that is, we train men for other enterprises. They enter young, they are promising, they do good work, and just as they have got the experience which should reinforce their native ability and their acquisition of knowledge, they say, “Well, what is before me ?” They are picked up by private enterprise. You can not absolutely prevent that result, but you can make a man feel that he has the protection of his Government in his career if he serves the Government with fidelity, and that when he gets through with the career, in which the Government has not enabled him to save anything, in his old age the Government will give him reasonable protection. The bill provides for that. I shall not go into the detail of it. It is different from the present general retirement measure in that the contribution that has to be made from the salaries of the various incumbents is 5 instead of 27 per cent. It takes effect at 65 instead of 70 years, although after 65 the man may be assigned, if he is useful, for a period of five years longer. These differences inhere in the character of the service. The amounts that are paid of course, are quite different, and much larger than those which are paid to the ordinary grades of clerks and others who are in the regular civil service. There have been various suggestions in regard to this retirement provision, which I will not attempt to discuss. That can be put upon an acturial basis, and I believe the actuary has made a report which will show just what can be accomplished in that direction. It will not be a serious matter for the Government; it will be a great reinforcement of the service itself.
I ought to have said with regard to these changes in the salary classifications that the financial results are these. At the present time the total salaries in the Consular Service of the 520 present officers amount to $1,924,600, and of the 121 diplomatic secretaries $387,000, making a total of $2,311,600. Under the proposed combined service the 641 officers will receive a total of $2,807,100, which, you will see, is about $495,000 increase. That is the charge to the Government on the salary scale.
I am deeply interested in this measure and the whole service is. I think nothing can be done which is better for the United States at this time than to tone. up the Diplomatic and Consular Service, and I want to do it by giving it the feeling that it is properly appreciated by the Government, fairly compensated, and affords a reasonable prospect of a satisfactory career.
I might add the observation that we have constantly before us in this country the need of improvement in administration. To my mind it is the most important thing. We have talk of laws, laws, and laws. But one well-administered law, competently administered law, is better than 100 new laws. Our whole strength abroad, the prestige and honor of this Nation, undoubtedly depend to a great degree upon general appreciation of our resources, upon the contacts with Americans throughout the world, upon the knowledge of what we have achieved, but to a very important degree, which should not be neglected, upon the impression abroad of the respect we have for the men who represent us, the way in which we equip them, the way in which we protect them, and the quality and fidelity of the men themselves, who undertake these various tasks.
STATEMENT OF HON. HUGH GIBSON, MINISTER OF THE
UNITED STATES TO POLAND. Mr. ROGERS of Massachusetts. Mr. Gibson, before you begin your statement I wish you would give to the committee in brief the story of your diplomatic life that they may have some knowledge of your acquaintance in detail with what you will discuss.
Mr. Gibson. I began in Central America as secretary of the legation at Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in 1908. That was followed by assignment as second secretary to the embassy in London. After that I served in the Department of State and went from there to Havana as first secretary of legation, then on some special missions to Santo Domingo and Haiti and at the beginning of the war to Brussels where I remained until 1916. Then I spent a year as first secretary of embassy in London, and another year as chief of the Division of Foreign Intelligence in the Department of State. for about one year first secretary in Paris with special duties at general headquarters of the American Army, served as a member of the first interallied mission to the countries of the old AustroHungarian Empire and, finally in 1919 I went as minister to Poland, where I still remain.
Now, to begin with, I should like to make clear that my personal interests are in no way served by this bill and, therefore, I hope that I may be privileged to speak very frankly and if desirablé indiscreetly as to the various features of the bill, without my motive being misunderstood.
I find that there is a general impression that the Diplomatic Service is against the Rogers bill, and that, furthermore, it is opposed to any form of reorganization. This is not true, and it is perhaps just as well for me to begin by correcting this misapprehension. It may serve to clarify the situation and expedite matters if I submit a brief statement of the attitude of the Diplomatic Service as I understand it.
Opinion on this subject is not a matter of conjecture. It is based on a rather full correspondence with as many members of the service as I have been able to reach in the past two months, and I have asked and secured from each and every one of them specific answers on a number of questions. Every man of them from whom I have heard approves the principles of the Rogers bill, as I understand them, and every man expresses himself as enthusiastically in favor of a thorough-going reorganization of the service. There is nothing new in this. Indeed, I think Mr. Rogers will bear me out in saying that for years the professional diplomats have given enthusiastic approval to his effort to create a real Diplomatic Service for our country.
Nobody can be more anxious than we are for a complete shake-up in the Diplomatic Service and for the improvements which Mr. Rogers has suggested. Our reasons are not far to seek. There are a lot of us who have been in the service for a long time—15 to 25
years—and each year we realize more and more just how costly it is to our country, to our interests, and to our citizens not to have the very best Diplomatic Service that can be created. I don't see any use in mincing words or in blinding ourselves to the fact that in the protection of our interests abroad we are limping along with a totally inadequate personnel and equipment. It is true we have a large number of able and devoted individuals whom we have been fortunate enough to keep in the Government service, but the fact remains that these men are outstanding individuals who, through pride of service and high standards of public duty, have remained in the service in spite of discouragements, in the hope that some day we may have the sort of service Mr. Rogers now proposes. We have a lot of good material, but our whole structure is rickety and it will never be up to the standard we want until it is completely rebuilt. This is a pretty good reason for wanting reorganization and for favoring legislation that is calculated to get it.
There is only one feature of the bill which, so far as I know, has really come in for criticism, and that is the one providing for interchangeability between the two branches of the service. This criticism is not against the principle of interchangeability but is based upon an exaggerated interpretation of that provision, which gives a false impression of what the bill intends to accomplish. This is purely a matter of sensible administration and I feel confident that the objections will prove not to have been well founded. I should welcome an opportunity to bring this out in the course of the hearings. The misgiving to which I have alluded has come chiefly from a number of unfortunate and sweeping statements which have been spread as to the manner in which this provision of the bill was to be administered.
The other features of the bill concern improvements of various sorts. I need hardly say that they command our enthusiastic approval. In supporting them various reasons have been brought forward before this committee and elsewhere for improving the condition of diplomats and consuls. We have been told that we must offer rewards to men who are doing good work for the Government; that they must be protected against destitution in their old age, and that they must have what is termed "recognition" in various forms. We must, it is true, offer inducements of various sorts if we are to attract men of high caliber to the foreign service, but I do not believe that these measures should be considered on any grounds of recognition or reward. In considering this bill there is just one consideration which should be allowed to have any weight. Our problem is not to give rewards to hard-working men; it is not to give anybody recognition. Our only problem is to secure for the Government the best possible foreign service. In order to do this we must strive to secure the widest possible choice of ability and brains, in order that we may build up a foreign service which can protect our country, our citizens, and our interests better than can be done by our present defective equipment. Once these men have been secured, we must retain them in the public service. All this can be accomplished only if we create a real diplomatic career, which is open to any American citizen who has the necessary qualifications—a career which is just as effectively closed to any American lacking the qualifications who tries to push his way in merely because he has a fat purse.
In order to secure the type of men we want, we have to offer them a decent livelihood and some form of security which will justify them in foregoing the opportunities which are offered in private business to provide for their families and secure themselves against the uncertainties of old age. Otherwise a man without private means can not remain in the public service without failing in his family duties. As matters now stand, while we get a surprising number of able men who are willing to pay their own way, we are far too largely dependent upon the class of men who are not only incompetent in the service but who could not make a decent living in private business if they had to. These inducements are not dictated by the need of giving rewards to good boys; they are merely essential to establish a career which is businesslike, American, and democratie. At present it enjoys none of these qualities. If we give the necessary inducements we shall attract enough people so that we can choose our men by the only good method--that is, by keen competition.
The Rogers bill contains the elements necessary for starting the creation of a real service. We can maintain the sort of service required by our national interests only if the committee continues to give its interest to the service and its support to various measures which may from time to time become necessary to meet changing conditions and increased burdens. With the continued interest and support of the committee, I feel sure that we can within a reasonable time build up the sort of machine which we ought to have. By this I mean nothing less than the most efficient Diplomatic and Consular Service in the world, for, not only as a matter of national pride but more especially as a matter of absolute national security, we ought to have the best and most effective foreign representation on earth. We have the men to choose from, we have the national wealth to afford them the equipment, and, above all, we have the pressing need for the service which can be rendered only by properly qualified diplomatic and consular officers.
For us to get along with a makeshift foreign service is just about as foolhardy as it would be for a powder factory to get along without fire extinguishers. And no one of us ought to be content to let any country in the world have a better foreign service than we have so long as we have the means to get it—and we can have it if we want it.
Mr. ROGERS of Massachusetts. There are some features of this bill as to which, perhaps, the committee might like your view. How much should the salaries of ministers and ambassadors be increased ?
Mr. CONNALLY. That is not in this bill.
Mr. Rogers of Massachusetts. No; but I think that may bring out an argument.
Mr. GIBSON. I don't believe chiefs of missions do need more pay. This is a very old story, and year after year our friends have agitated to have us better paid. There have been a large number of friendly and appreciative newspaper articles written and
a sincere effort on the part of many of our friends to get our pay increased. I honestly feel, however, thắt we can get on perfectly well with the pay we now havesubject to one condition. That condition is that our pay shall be considered in the same light as the pay granted to a man in private life, to a banker, or to a hod carrier; i. e., that it shall be considered as remuneration for services rendered and not as a contribution toward paying the expenses of doing Government business.