History doesn't repeat itself. But it rhymes.
Here I propose to reveal some of these hitherto unreported loans–enough, at least, to justify Congress in tearing away the screen altogether and bringing to light this whole story.
Before lifting a corner of the curtain let me insert a word about this dangerous notion that government can be safely conducted in secrecy. There is a school of politicians–in close communion with their business allies–who hold to what is sometimes called the idiot theory of government, because of certain expressions which the President himself has let fall. There is a belief that the citizens are stupid; that the less they know the better off they will be; that knowledge in their immature minds will frequently produce economic disorder, and that they will be better served if they will entrust their affairs to the strong and able men set over them by Providence and a well-oiled election machine. The theory ignores a very old truth: that if there are foolish citizens there are also selfish rulers; that the poor judgment of the masses is to be trusted hardly less than the bad ethics of their leaders, and that, in any case, those who supply the funds for governments and the blood for wars have a right to know what is being done with their money and their lives.
For a century this country (and the world) has been learning the solemn lesson that it has nothing to fear so much as the public servant who is unwilling to report to society what he is doing with its funds. In America, at least, we have been warring upon secret diplomacy, secret campaign funds, secret corporation activities, secret utility and railroad managements.
From the January 1933 issue of Harper's Magazine.