Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/352

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

poses than the aforesaid honest farmer's acres in his interior precincts. But he does complain, and, what is more, makes his complaint a political engine for passing Interstate Commerce and "Granger" laws, when he finds that his produce can not be marketed anywhere except upon these very few square feet, and that the railway will persist in charging him more money to haul his product from Vermont to New York, or from Central Illinois to Chicago, than it does to carry it to the heart of the great American desert, if he shipped it so. Is it not true that it must cost more to go where everybody wants to go, than to go where nobody wants to go? Is there, in other words, a mundane condition in which the laws of demand do not regulate the laws of supply; and, interchangeably, the laws of supply the laws of demand? Surely, it seems a kindergarten sort of business to even ask the question; and yet, honestly, is not this the very bottom of the non-railroad public's objection to railroads (their unconscious objection, no doubt, but still their objection and their grievance), viz.: that, after all these years of railroads, the business centers are just where they always were—New York, Boston, Chicago; that the railroads have not diverted the business of the continent from the trade-centers and planted them elsewhere, and so given other merchants than those of the first commercial center a chance to grow rich? Is it not, in other words, not because they have, but because they have not made arbitrary centers and "diverted trade from its natural channels," that they are put under the centralized dictatorship and power of an Interstate Commission? The Almighty set the bounds within which the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Michigan roll and fret. If Senator Cullom states facts when he says that railways built by human hands can divert trade from its natural channels and create by favoritism natural centers of trade, then it is unjust and monstrous that these railroads should still operate themselves on the Scriptural principle, "that to them that hath shall be given, while from them that hath not shall be taken away even that they hath"; and still wickedly cater to the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Michigan ports (which were there before the railways were built), instead of equalizing matters and making trade centers for the interior where there are no Atlantic Oceans and Lakes Michigan. Why should the railroads cruelly carry trade to and from those ports which are already trade-centers by reason of their waterways? Let the railroad companies be just and fair. To be sure, railways in Europe still despotically carry to Liverpool, Antwerp, Marseilles, but this is a land of equal rights. Let all its citizens have equal privileges, and equal opportunities of getting rich. The New York merchant and the Chicago merchant have grown rich because they have the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Michigan over which to do business. Now let the railways (who have only, according to Senator Cullom, to turn their hands over to oblige us) build some trade-centers for the honest farmer, or the interior merchant. Let us have as many