Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/476

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
460
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

roads, such, a law would not prevent discrimination, but actually compel it. Let us say that a shipper in New York desires to send goods all-rail to Chicago, and that he has a choice of three all-rail routes (as a matter of fact he has a choice of thirteen, but we will use the lesser number). One of these all-rail routes runs by a right of way laid out some forty years ago, under the then existing systems of engineering, climbs heavy grades, crosses the Alleghany Mountains twice, and makes the trip about one thousand miles. A second, laid out some twenty years later, has better grades, but crosses the mountains only once. A third runs by almost a series of bee-lines, has a grade nowhere exceeding one per cent, and was constructed and capitalized at less than a fourth part of the accumulated capital and indebtedness of the other two. Now, left to themselves, can these three railways, with different amounts of fixed charges, interest, dividends, and operating expenses to pay annually, carry for the same tariffs at the same rates to the same points, and all pay expenses? Ought they, in justice to the investors, whose money built them (and who are portions of the people quite as much as are the shippers over the line or the members of State Legislatures), to make the same rates for equivalent services? From the standpoint of the gentleman who believes that railways should meet their fixed charges, and all other expenses—should pay their bills, that is to say, like ordinary mortals!—from this standpoint, I say, it would seem as if a difference in rates to Chicago, over these three all-rail lines, was inevitable. And so it was, up to the invention of the pooling system: each road made its own tariff-schedules independently, and naturally the tariff of each was different from that of the others. But, without supposing that they were committing a crime, and as yet unconvinced of sin, these three railways, let us say, came together, and determined to make a single rate to Chicago for all business received by each of the three lines; these receipts to be pooled and divided something upon the basis outlined above. Even had they proceeded upon a basis of the single actual receipts to each for solicited business, there could be no difference to the public either way; but they chose to consider the most complicated problem of a single tariff divided upon the items of expenditure, outlay, and cost described above. What resulted? Simply that there was (as the interstate commerce law says there shall be) no discrimination. But when the interstate commerce law, while keeping the word of promise to the ear by saying there should be no discrimination, broke it to the hope by saying there should be no pool, what resulted? Why, in the case of these three roads, a discrimination in favor of one third against two thirds! For, when each of these three roads makes its own tariff, of course, the road having the smallest fixed charges to pay makes