Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/323

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THE MEANING OF CORPORATIONS AND TRUSTS.

portation that have been but little understood. Abuses are being corrected, and in many instances procedure supposed to be to the injury of the public in general is shown to flow from the action of natural forces tending to the public good.

Much that has been evil in the conduct of trusts has been ascribed to the working of our so-called protective tariff, and the exclusion of foreign competition has, doubtless, been an important factor in the over-capitalization of different plants and the watering of stock that have been almost constant elements in trust formation. But it is not to be inferred that an abandonment of or a reduction in the tariff would be followed by the dissolution of trusts. If the greatest economy of production is obtained under a trust, which is the final combination forced by competition, will not the renewed and intensified competition consequent upon an abandonment of or a reduction in the tariff render the trust all the more necessary? The foreign competition will doubtless hasten a reduction of undue profits, but at the same time will tend to increase the compactness of organization and method under which the final industrial combination is of greatest good to the community. The three baking companies referred to on a preceding page are examples of trusts the formation and continuance of which do not depend upon any advantages derived from the tariff. The United States Baking Company was formed under the pressure of competition entirely domestic. It thrives because the operations of the constituent baking establishments are conducted under centralized control, by which is obtained for each the advantages of the best appliances and methods, the best adapted material at the lowest cost, and the most judicious distribution of the products.

As it often happens that the actions of a servant, performing his duties quietly and efficiently to the increasing satisfaction of his master, meet with no other recognition than the stipulated compensation, although departure from the exact line of correct performance, whether apparent or actual, whether the result of ignorance, carelessness, or positive dishonesty, meets with complaint, rebuke, and punishment, so it has happened that an industrial combination which is but the servant of the public, so long as its operations have been confined to the production and marketing of articles for which there is a demand, of a quality and at prices that satisfy that demand, has been permitted to continue its functions without particular attention, receiving reward in the profits accruing from the sale of its product. But the real or apparent departure of such an organization from the simple performance of such functions, whether the result of actual aggression or the disturbance entailed by the readjustment to changing conditions, brings outcry that has been followed by that public