Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/321

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THE MEANING OF CORPORATIONS AND TRUSTS.

stance, one man now controls what is practically one organization, owning mines at Pittsburg, docks on Lake Erie, vessels that ply on the lakes, docks at the head of the lakes, and coal yards at St. Paul and Minneapolis. As the retail price for Pittsburg bituminous coal at St. Paul and Minneapolis has been materially reduced in the past ten years, it will be observed that the coordination of the various functions enumerated has resulted in immense benefit to the consumers of coal, that has extended throughout the Northwestern States. When contributory functions are absorbed by a combination, the men engaged in the performance of those functions are not deprived of a livelihood. Their services are needed in the performance of those same functions by the combination, which must yield them compensation in accordance with their experience and ability. If it be the effect of this competition to force a lesser income than accrued from the profits theretofore enjoyed, the result, while it may to a greater or less extent be to the misfortune of the absorbed individuals, is for the good of the community as a whole. If the functions which they did perform can be performed by the combination equally well at less expense, it would be unjust to the consumers of the ultimate product for these individuals to continue to enjoy such profits. There is the further consideration that in the performance of the various functions necessary to the continuation of a great organization men of various kinds of ability can devote their energies to the tasks for which they are best adapted. The organization and the nation as a whole are therefore benefited by having the best outcome of men who, if working independently in a smaller sphere, would be hampered by having to give a greater or less proportion of their time to tasks for which they are less adapted.

The instinct of self-preservation, carried to its extreme in the desire for the greatest gain with the least liability for aggression, is apparent in the different steps of industrial combination. The limited partnership laws in effect in many of the States contain provisions restricting liability that, as a rule, have stood the test of application, but there has been much irregularity on the part of corporations that, obtaining a charter under the laws of a particular State, have gained advantages that have permitted operations in other States under the laws of which similar privileges could not have been obtained; and, conversely, particular States have placed unjust restrictions upon the operation within their jurisdiction of corporations working under charters obtained in other States. The desire to evade responsibility, together with the desire to evade the assault that in many localities is facilitated by the laws arising from distrust of corporate action, has led certain of the combinations known as trusts to adopt carefully