Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/313

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THE MEANING OF CORPORATIONS AND TRUSTS.

It has been remarked, with some show of facetiousness, that from the trust that supplies the cradle wherein he is rocked in infancy to the trust that furnishes the coffin wherein he is laid for the tomb, man is housed, fed, clothed, transported, and entertained by a trust of one description or another. And, notwithstanding arraignment in public print and public speech, trusts thrive and prosper. This alone might lead to the inference that they are the product of natural forces.

But trusts are not in possession of the entire industrial field. Not in any one line of industry is the entire production effected by the agency of any one combination. There are even corporations, firms, and individuals engaged in the production, refining, and distribution of oil that owe no allegiance to the Standard Oil Company. There are refiners independent of the sugar trust, and iron manufacturers that are not in any pool. There are trusts in the same line of industry working in direct competition with each other, and also with firms and individuals engaged in like production. For example, the New York Biscuit Company, the United States Baking Company, and a similar company operating principally west of the Mississippi River, are three different trusts engaged in the manufacture of products of the bakery, operating principally each in territory separate from the other; but at points in the territory of either it is in direct competition with the other, and each, in its own territory, is in competition with firms and individuals supplying bread, biscuits, crackers, and kindred articles of consumption. There are towns and villages not reached by any of these trusts that are supplied by local bakers, and there are thousands of households throughout the land producing almost entirely within their own kitchens all the products of grain consumed by their members. A certain similarity to this condition is presented in each other line of industry throughout the entire field. Combination is most marked in industries requiring expensive plants and appliances and the services of a large number of especially trained workers in preparing a product for which there is great and constant demand, the railways and iron and steel and the textile industries all affording conspicuous examples of strong combination. In the more densely populated portions of the country there is combination to a greater or less extent in other industries that, in more recently settled portions of the country, are administered by smaller organizations, the three baking companies being notable examples. A variety of causes, more or less general, more or less particular, have affected combination in the different lines of industry at different places. The general tendency, however, is toward the formation of separate organizations for the manufacture of an increasing variety of specialized products, and toward the combination of the com-