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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/389

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369
RAILWAY MALADJUSTMENTS.

maintenance of profitable rates, and the author insists that legislation aiming to prevent such unions or agreements or regulating rates is in the nature of confiscation. This seems plausible, for it is only a half-statement of the case; as the Western granger, who has granted a free right of way and voted aid for the construction of competing lines of railways, views such alliances as treachery and dishonesty, to be prevented and punished by legal penalties.

The author of "Legislative Injustice to Railways"[1] condemns attempts at State regulation, which from the very nature of things must more or less directly interfere with interstate commerce; but, upon the whole, he is disposed to look upon the Interstate Commerce Bill as a step in the right direction, and would only recommend certain modifications of the anti-pooling and the long and short haul clauses. But in the main this writer asks for legislation aimed directly at the inherent dishonesty of railroad management; viz., he wants laws compelling directors to publish truthful reports, and asks the appointment of public accountants to examine and attest all reports for publication. He asks a law making it incumbent upon railroads to elect at least one thoroughly trained and honest director, specially educated for the purpose. He also insists on legislation "to regulate the methods of construction companies," which, he says, "are probably doing more to demoralize the railroad system than any other factor," and he broadly intimates that these companies are nothing but organized schemes for the enrichment of thrifty directors at the expense of the stockholders.

"Bribery in Railway Elections"[2] is an argument to show that the many evils complained of are the result of systematic bribery employed in the election of the directors who control the management of railway properties. The writer asserts that the practice is neither business-like nor moral, "and requires some weapon more potent than argument," hence he demands enactments prescribing heavy penalties. But surely bribery within the railway company can not be the cause of demoralization, for it is but a symptom of a diseased organism, and proves the evil to rest in the constitution of the railway corporation itself, which is the creature of statute law. What could better indicate the operation of foreign and abnormal forces than this acknowledgment that our railroads are controlled by forces neither "business-like nor moral"? Is it not evident that such an organism is of artificial origin, and is unfitted to survive unless its business and moral qualities are developed on a plane with the importance and far reaching influences of the properties controlled?

  1. Henry Clews, "North American Review," March, 1889.
  2. Isaac L. Rice, "The Forum," March, 1889.