October 14, 1933 - Article - "Government By Professors", by Albert W. Atwood

The first half year of President Roosevelt's Administration emphasizes as nothing else has ever done the importance of the men who run our Government. No such great powers as he possesses could be conferred upon any Chief Executive without directing attention to the personnel which must assist him. Under conditions that now exist no mere human being, with finite powers only, could do more than choose among broad lines of policy and make final decisions. Thus the personalities and capabilities of a multitude of men other than the President - namely, his advisers, investigators and helpers, the directors, administrators and coördinators - become of paramount concern.

It made a marvelously good story, however, did this Brain Trust, this small coterie of professors, this kitchen or bedside cabinet, advising the President how to build a new social and economic Utopia.... For awhile, professors were all the rage; and it was said that senators and congressmen were eagerly reading the books, old and new, of the professors supposed to belong to the Brain Trust. (pg. 23)

Too often the professor's ideas are theoretical only; they are not burned in the flame of experience, for which there is no substitute in practical political affairs. They cost nothing in the classroom, on paper or even books, but when applied to the taxpayer the story is different.

Like other men, the professor has his prejudices and hobbies, which he often has no opportunity to test out. He nurses them year after year, until they become fixed ideas so deep-rooted that when he finally has a chance to try them out he may do so in an intolerant manner.

The professor deals largely with formative minds. He talks to students who cannot talk back with the effectiveness of the outside world. In any case, he marks them up and he marks them down - all of which makes for a dictatorial attitude. (pg. 88)

Back to Old Weekly Press Table of Contents