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Public Enemies

From the Evening Star, July 5, 1913. By Walt Mason.

If you build a line of railway over hills and barren lands, giving lucrative employment to about a million hands; if you cause a score of cities by your right of way to rise, where there formerly was nothing but some rattlesnakes and flies; if, when bringing kale to others you acquire a little kale, then you’ve surely robbed the peepul, and you ought to be in jail. If by planning and by toiling you have won some wealth and fame, it will make no odds how squarely you have played your little game; your success is proof sufficient that you are a public foe; you’re a soulless malefactor, to the dump you ought to go; it’s a crime for you to prosper where so many others fail; you have surely robbed the peepul and you ought to be in jail. Be a chronic politician, deal in superheated air; roast the banks and money barons—there is always safety there; but to sound the note of business is a crime so mean and base that the fellow guilty of it ought to go and hide his face; change the builder’s song triumphant for the politician’s wail, or we’ll think you’ve robbed the peepul, and we’ll pack you off to jail.

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