Observer, Volume XXIII, Issue 18, 17 January 1903, Page 2
The Gold Lace Department
EVIDENTLY, the passion for mill tarism is dying down in the Sed
donian bosom. For three years, the gold-lace department has occupied a dominant position in the public service, and made strong demands upon the public purse. But it has served its purpose. Now, we are flying from the extreme of military extravagance to the other extreme of military economy. Gold-laced gentlemen who have been strutting the streets with complacent self-sufficiency, twirling their gold-headed canes, and looking aggressively warlike in return for substantial salaries, are being sent to the right-about. Offices are being amalgamated, the ranks of the unemployed are being swelled, and the inflated military department is being reduced to more reasonable dimen-
It is all very hard on the gold-laced gentleman, but everything considered, the reform will be welcome to the taxpayer. It is an indication that we are recovering from military swelled head. During the last few years, there has been a strong tendency in this colony towards aggressive militarism of the kind that sets up a swaggering, overbearing military caste, which considers itself vastly superior to the people upon whom it lives. This is not in keeping with the democratic aspirations of New Zealand, though it found much sympathy and support from the Premier when the glamour of Imperialism was strong.upon him. Now however, he is realising that the goldlace fad is an expensive one, and more especially so at a tim« when the Treasury is low, and loans cannot be raised in England.
Heaven bless the tightness in the, British money market if it saves üb, even in some measure, from useless extravagances such as this one of militarism. The' system owes its speedy growth and present alarming dimensions to the depth of the colony's patriotism at the time of the war — a patriotism that scorned any check upon military expenditure — but the uselessness of such extravagance is coming home quickly to a people whose limited means are burdened with demands for the opening up of the country and the promotion of the work of colonisation. Our destiny leads us in, the walks of peace, and not of war, and though it is truly wiitten that the best way to secure peace is to be prepared for war, this is no sufficient argument for keeping up a costly department of gold - laced generals, colonels, and majors who are not ornamental and of doubtful use. .«. «. .*. • If we have money to spend upon defence, it should be devoted to the volunteer force, which gives its time and energies enthusiastically to the country without fee or reward. There is a small capitation paid to the men, but it is not sufficient to clothe them, and in some instances scarcely keeps them in ammunition. Instead of keeping up a costly staff of officers, the capitation should be increased to say £10 for every efficient volunteer, one half of which should go to the company and the other half to the men. This would be some recompense to the men for their loss of time, and would be a direct incentive to diligence in their duties, and the result would eventually be to give us a well-trained force, upon which we could depend in an emergency. But the present overstaffed and useless gold-lace department should certainly go-