Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/595

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MARCH, 1883.


IT is charged by the politician, it is spread by the press, and it is believed by the people, that railroads, being operated in the interest of the corporations themselves, are operated against the interest of the communities; that by consolidations and combinations all competition is removed, and monopolies are formed which levy extortionate tolls, with no regard to the rights or interests of their patrons. And so dangerous, it is believed, has this arbitrary exercise of power become, that the people of the whole country are invited to bind them-selves together into an "anti-monopoly" league, to be able to strike for their liberties, and punish the destroying avarice of these giant corporations.

There is an increasing number of inquiring minds who have come to look with distrust upon the statements of politicians, the opinions of the press, and that popular judgment which is based upon the misinformation furnished by these. It is the purpose of this paper to inquire into these charges and beliefs and endeavor to disclose what truth or error they may contain.

The word monopoly is associated in the mind with the legal and artificial monopolies of the last three centuries. Such, for instance, as the Dutch East India Company, which, having the entire product of the Spice Islands, would destroy a portion of the crop rather than lower the price by bringing the whole to market. The workings of all these old monopolies were opposed to the public good, as they were operated in the maintenance of high prices. In England, under the successors of Henry VIII, they had become so numerous and grievous, that by an act of James I, all monopolies were abolished