Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/387

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
367
RAILWAY MALADJUSTMENTS.

the young fishes which were put into the Fish Commission pond were hatched from eggs taken from the earliest shad of the season, and, if this process of selection be pursued for a few years, we may feel confident that the Potomac River will soon abound in shad of extra quality at the time when fine shad are hardest to get and most valuable.

 

RAILWAY MALADJUSTMENTS.
By BENJAMIN REECE.

IT is a remarkable fact that in social and industrial concerns men never dream of restoring an equilibrium by withdrawing the forces which disturb it, but they invariably demand the exertion of new and opposite forces to neutralize the effect of those in operation which could more easily be removed. When the moving locomotive is to be brought to a stand, the engine-man shuts off the steam and applies the brakes; but the practical statesman, and indeed many economic students, never dream of this simple method in dealing with social problems; they almost always insist on bringing out another locomotive of equal weight and power to run counter to the one in motion and thereby neutralize its energy, and the forces generated in the two locomotives are thus lost in preserving an equilibrium which could have been more readily secured by closing the throttle-valve of the one which it was designed to stop. The railroad manager making such use of his motive power would be deemed insane, yet in our industrial concerns a similar application of social energy is declared to be the only practical method, and those who decry its folly are contemptuously termed impracticals.

The space devoted by the leading periodicals to the discussion and investigation of the causes which underlie the disordered and incongruous development of our railways, as well as the numerous remedies proposed, fully attest their state of utter instability, which, if not corrected, may ultimately lead to practical confiscation by means of legislation, or their purchase and control by Government. In whatever light we view the social and industrial relations of the railroads, we are confronted by that state of chaotic confusion which must ever result from a persistent transgression of natural law.

Yet, while railroad managers are pleading to be preserved by legislation from their reciprocal aggressions, while the railroads and the public are asking for laws to protect them from their mutual hostilities, while railroad companies and employés have vainly sought an equitable adjustment of their differences, and are each looking to legislation to define their rights and limit