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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/477

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THE POLITICAL CONTROL OF RAILWAYS.

the lowest rates. The dwellers along that line have the advantage of these low rates to which, of the other two railways, only one can approximate; while the third line must either go to the other extreme, or defraud the holders of its securities. Not to dilate unnecessarily upon the situation, the reader can see at once that prohibiting a long and short haul discrimination upon any one railway really increases discrimination to the whole people; and that, on the whole, the pooling system was the fairest system for the whole people, as well as for the railways, that could have been devised, for both shipper and investor: for the shipper, since it gave him all the benefits of cheap freights; and for the investor in railways, because it secured to the railway built under heavy capitalization, and laboring beneath huge operating expenses (but serving a territory as entitled as any other, per se, to transportation facilities), a fair return upon the wealth that had been lavished to build it.

The theory of the interstate commerce law was borrowed from Europe—from England and Germany; and, although there may be those who admit that whatever is good enough for England or Germany is good enough for the United States, it ought not to be forgotten that neither of these eminent nations possess railroad systems at all analogous to our own, or in the operation of which anything like the same problems or conditions arise. The existence of two, let alone five or six, parallel lines is not only unknown, but impossible, in either of those countries; and yet the promoters of the interstate commerce act in Congress, and apologists for it ever since, pointed and still point with pride to the fact that the provisions of the act can not be onerous, because their operation has been tested, without annihilating the railway interest, in England and in Germany![1] As a matter of fact, there are several hundred other practical discrepancies between American and foreign railways; but it would swell this paper unduly to discuss them here, and the above-mentioned alone is enough to dispense with the plea that the interstate commerce act is a good one for this people because its tenor has worked well across the ocean. I might add, however, that, despotic as is the German Government—the government of blood and iron—over all private enterprise, at any rate it has never yet discriminated against the enterprise of its own subjects in favor of the schemes of national rivals. Doubtless it is unfair to charge to the framers of the interstate commerce act a desire to benefit Canadian railroads (notably the Canadian Pacific Railroad) at the expense of our own railways. That such has been the paramount unpatriotic effect of

  1. "Much of the language used in the most important sections" (in the act) "has a settled meaning, having been judicially construed either in this country or in England."—Senator Cullom's Springfield speech.