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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/472

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and upon them is made incumbent and peremptory the duty of "regulating" the affairs of the railways. What is, and what must be, the result? The average politician knows fully as little or as much about railway management as he does about photographing the moon or applying the solar spectrum; yet, once upon a board of railway commissioners, he is required to excogitate and frame rules for an industry which not only supplies the financial arteries of a continent, but holds the lives as well as the credits of its citizens dependent upon the click of a telegraph or the angle of a semaphore—an industry which adjusts at once the most volatile and the most ponderous forces of nature to every necessary or luxurious service of our people! And, since thirty-eight boards of these accomplished commissioners were not enough, the General Government has kindly added another—not to regulate or supervise these thirty-eight, but to act in independent chaos to their tergiversations, and to contribute to the general value of their independent conclusions, ordinances, rules, and codes. What must, or rather what must not, be the result, when the country asks, as it appears to be now asking, to be furnished with railway experts and traffic accountants at the polls?

When the socialist programme shall be carried out to its full, it is understood that there is to be no inequality between the capitalist and the tramp. This equality, however, need not wait the perfection of that programme. It can be achieved to-day by two extremely simple methods. Either the tramp can go to work, earn money, economize, and become a capitalist, or the capitalist can divide with the tramp. But while the capitalist, for his part, opposes no objection to the first plan, the latter appears to be the only one the tramp will listen to. Both seem to be at present in abeyance. But, as to those aggregations of operated capital we call railway companies, I am not so sure but that the entering wedge for the second plan has been inserted. Let us see.

The interstate commerce act, with its administrative commission, does its fine work by forbidding two things; namely, "pools" and "discriminations." The State acts, with their administrative boards, also deny these two, but add edicts as to almost everything else: charges for service, size and cost of equipments, ratio of salaries, etc., to be charged, made or paid by their pupils the railway companies. I shall attempt in this paper to show that all this tutelage can have but one logical and political outcome; and that outcome—confiscation! The terminal sounds harsh, extravagant, impossible! But let us lead up to it and see if it be either.

The word "discrimination" means almost everything, and can hardly be limited to anything definitive. If I invite one of my