Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/388

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
368
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

their obligations, it is worthy of all attention that in the physical and mechanical phases of its development the railroad is a marvel of orderly design, a monument of human energy, organization, and skill, to the perfection of which every branch of scientific research has contributed and revealed to man the proper adaptation of means to ends.

In a recent article[1] it was pointed out that to increase the specific gravity of water would at once disturb its relations to every other form of matter, and that the equilibrium so destroyed could only be restored by a return to natural adjustments. Do not the disordered industrial relations of our railroads present a striking parallel?—for, with regard to their social and economic relations, viz., to the investors who own them, to the employés who operate them, and to the public who employ them, their adjustments are non-adapted, and have thus far proved nonadaptable; for innumerable laws, intended to be remedial, have only served to increase the disorder and perplexity. Is it not time that we ceased our vain attempts to neutralize by balancing unmeasured, unweighed, and complicated forces, and turn our attention to the discovery of the original sources of disturbance, so that by shutting off the steam and applying the brakes the equilibrium of adjustments will be reinstated?

In the examination of the many evils which it is sought to remedy, I will refer to articles in recent publications, contributed by gentlemen whose experience and intimate knowledge of details connected with railroad management enable them to speak with authority, and I can not but conclude that an analysis will show all the disturbances enumerated to have their origin in two groups of stimulating laws, and in their repeal will be found the only true and permanent remedy.

"The Political Control of Railways"[2] is a general argument against legislation which prescribes and enforces regulations for the administration of railroad proprerties. The author calls for the repeal of the Interstate Commerce Bill, and of adverse laws enacted by the States; but such enactments had their origin in an effort to restore the equilibrium between the railroads and the public, and they stand as the reactions of, and not as the active causes of, the original disorder. It is true the repeal of these laws might restore harmony between the railroads, but only by a further unbalancing of the relations between the railroad companies and the public. The argument is substantially this: that having built roads without regard to commercial necessities or demands, investors should be permitted to unite in pools, etc., to secure the

  1. "Law as a Disturber of Social Order," "Popular Science Monthly," March, 1889, p. 632.
  2. Appleton Morgan, "Popular Science Monthly," February, 1889.