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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/267

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bination first sell your mills at five times what they are worth. The public pays the price. Then you hope to pay dividends by acquiring other mills at bargain prices—and how will you do that? Your combination means to invade the field of every private manufacturer of importance and under-sell him and drive him to the wall—until he will give his plant up to you at the unjust price you dictate. That is the only method by which you can ever extend such an organization, and the only method by which you can win. It is practically committing highway robbery with a club."

"Nonsense!" cried Colonel Halket. "Even assuming the truth of your rash statements—which I don't for a moment admit—it would be merely applying the principle of competition—"

"There's fair competition and there's unfair competition," broke in Floyd. "It's fair when it's a permanent endeavor to make the best product at the cheapest price compatible with a profit. It's unfair when, simply because of greater resources and staying power, one manufacturer makes an assault on another's business, temporarily produces at a loss in order to drive his rival out of the market, and having accomplished that, pushes up the price again and recoups himself for his loss."

"Oh, you're splitting hairs, splitting hairs," Colonel Halket declared, with an impatient gesture. "Competition's the life of trade—and everybody's fighting everybody else. Of course after I close up the combination, that will no longer be true,—and it will be better for every one,—but meanwhile, no doubt, some one will have to suffer. There are always sacrifices in the path of human progress."

"It does not seem to me," said Floyd, "that it is the part of a humane and just man to profit by them."

"Profit by them!" exclaimed Colonel Halket, sweeping one hand through his hair in exasperation at this crass misconception and misstatement of his aims. "I tell you