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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/57

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Limitations of Chief Clerk System.

awkward and embarrassing silences, I am learning to discontinue the acid test, “How about your boss’s chief clerk?” So widespread a belief indicates a generic trait of human nature rather than a sporadic condition. Organization as a science seeks by proper checks and balances to minimize such amiable failings of human nature. Organized society preserves the effectiveness and dignity of its courts by allowing only a duly qualified judge to administer justice. The old clerk of the court may really know more law than the young judge, but only the latter can sit on the bench and decide causes. The lay reader must be duly ordained before exercising the full functions of a minister. The man who uses another’s autograph signature in the banking business becomes a malefactor. Are we so different in the large corporations that we can with impunity ignore such safeguards?

The chief clerk system had its origin when railways were small and officials were few. On a division, for example, the superintendent was perhaps the only official and by common acceptance his clerk was really the next in rank. When a small tradesman or a small farmer goes away for a day his wife and boy may do