Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/115

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ARE BUSINESS PROFITS TOO LARGE?

operators in half a century has produced no concern of magnitude. The almost uniform failures seem to prove that great management must have great compensation, and in endeavoring to get the skill without the pay the co-operators' dream has come to naught.

Now, this is equivalent to saying that the world finds its business can be done at less cost than by co-operation. The latter fails because it is undersold and unable to compete with such skill as gets the better pay.

Had Commodore Vanderbilt been content with the salary of a steamboat captain he would never have developed into a great business man and railroad manager. The prospect of great emolument brought into exercise great powers, so that he cheapened transportation in an astonishing degree and yet made money to an astonishing amount. The people who saved four or five dollars in a round trip between Boston and New York, and the people who got their barrel of flour twenty-five cents less because he ran a railway to Chicago, enjoyed the sensation at the time, but, when they saw his fortune, could not refrain from tears to think of the merciless robbery they suffered at his hands. It is the old story of the farmers and the market-men told at the beginning of this paper. The thing happened and succeeded, not because Vanderbilt was a robber, but by virtue of his giving better terms to people who had to travel and had to eat bread. His inducements were such that he got the business. Suppose he and some others of the same kind of enterprise had not come upon the stage, what would have been the result? Evidently the old ways of business would have continued. We should still be going to Buffalo on canal-boats and creeping along the streets of our cities in dilapidated omnibuses, still be doing our journeying in stagecoaches over dusty roads and tedious hills at a great sacrifice of time, money, comfort, and strength. The enterprise of the money-makers has profited everybody else by exciting production and accumulation. The money-makers have taken pay not out of labor, but out of the increased production and savings which their efforts have secured. Individuals have sometimes suffered. The omnibuses were killed when the horse-car came, and A. T. Stewart did the business of a hundred small shopmen; but the people at large saved time in getting where they were compelled to go in one case, and got what they wanted at less cost in the other. The street railroad makes ten times the money that the stages did, and the people save money and time. The people can do better by buying of Stewart, and therefore they buy. They enriched him to the tune of thirty millions, clean cash. This is a great fact; but it does not show great robbery. It may show the very opposite. The very class of persons who find fault with