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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/151

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Inspection or Efficiency.

the engineer, this was a good working hypothesis. Did we not outgrow it long ago? We trust the engineer to hire a thousand men, to incur a legal obligation for us to pay them. Why send the pay-rolls several hundred miles to be checked by a lot of boys? Why not let the engineer disburse, subject to a real check, after the fact, by a competent disinterested inspection of his work?

The same general line of reasoning applies to all the activities of a railroad. We endeavor to insure integrity by disbursing only through the central offices of the auditor and the treasurer. By the same reasoning a large bank would keep its customers waiting at one window because only one teller would be allowed to pay out money. A bank can count its cash at the end of a day, but it can never tell exactly what remittances its correspondents have in the mail. A railway’s money is even more in a state of unstable equilibrium. All night long some of its ticket offices and lunch counters are open. All night long cash fares are being collected on trains. The exact amount of money on hand at a given moment is only an approximation. This is natural from the characteristics of a railway. It would be a hard