Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

His essays, for the most part dealing with and proved successful are better able to forsocial and legal reforms, have been col- mulate the policies of the concerns that they lected into two volumes, “Moral Over- are handling, whether they be banks, railroads, strain" and "The Old Law and the New

or industries, than a miscellaneous set of men Order.” Ex-president Roosevelt has de- that never had any experience in managing

affairs of any kind, and in most cases have not clared that Mr. Alger's essays, and par

been successful in handling anything. ticularly the analysis of the theory of industrial liberty called “Some Equivocal Following this line of thought we should Rights of Labor," in the first of these allow the woolen manufacturers to write volumes, were very largely instrumental the woolen tariff, the steamship companies in formulating his own point of view on would vote themselves a subsidy, the social problems.

admirals would increase the size of the In a sense, therefore, Mr. Alger is the Navy. The wildest of the "miscellaneous literary sponsor for the present move- set of men” seldom speak with less statesment for "social justice.” But the manship than this. changes in our judicial methods, of which Of course, Congress often passes bad Mr. Alger writes, are not party matters; measures, just as other people fail in busimen of all political faiths favor improving ness. It is likewise often true that more the machinery of justice.

information from experts would often tend To this new series in the World's to improve legislation. But such business Work, Mr. Alger brings a ripened exper- men as the one quoted above render their ience and a sane, clear, constructive knowledge unavailable by the narrowness attitude. His law practice has been of their vision. A currency bill that varied and substantial but not sensational; meets the requirements of the bankers that at the present time he is one of the receivers met at Chicago may or may not be most of the Wabash Railroad. Before he is beneficial to the other bankers, and to the anything else, Mr. Alger is a lawyer and other non-banking people who compose he has consented to write these articles ninety-nine per cent. or more of the total because he has a real desire to improve population. Undoubtedly the men who the dignity and usefulness of his nrofession. met at Chicago are wise in their own pro

fession but it is not in human nature that THE BANKERS AND THE they should be wholly disinterested, and CURRENCY

a Congress that allowed them to dictate a

currency bill would share the same fate T IS natural that the bankers should

that befell the last Congress that allowed protest against many phases of the the interests that were directly affected

new Glass-Owen currency bill. Many to write a tariff. bankers, like many men in the other pro

The best leadership that has appeared fessions, are afraid of any outside interfer- among the banking fraternity is that of ence with anything that directly touches Mr. Reynolds, of the Continental-Comtheir business.

mercial Bank of Chicago, for his plan was The feeling that their interests are

constructive, not irreconcilable. His idea special and should not be touched except was to get the bill improved as much as under their guidance has become so strong possible and then to help it to become law. in the minds of some bankers and business

The bankers' committee that went to men in the United States that they no Washington seemingly accepted the inlonger believe in the United States Govern- evitable Government control of the Regment. They are habitual irreconcilables. ional Reserve Board. But their influence For example, the president of a large was toward delay in the passage of the industrial company, in advising Congress bill, on the assumption that it was hasty to follow the advice of the Chicago legislation. Bankers' Convention, said:

This it is not. If the bill is not a good | always believed that men experienced in bill it is because its framers can not make any class of business who have been tried out it a good bill and at the same time get it

[ocr errors]

E

through Congress. Plenty of time was subject, that the result would be an immediate spent in its preparation.

rate-war by all the railroads of the United We have had at least four years of cur

States. rency reform in talk and investigation.

Senator Hoar, of Massachusetts, said: The public has a right not only to expect a reformed currency but to expect its

Here is a proposition which, in my judgspeedy enactment. Congress is respon

ment, would be destructive to great business sible for the kind of reform we get and the interests in the country, especially to the time it takes for us to get it.

export business of the principal city of the

state which I represent. THE FEAR OF CHANGE

On January 31, 1887, the New York

Tribune expressed its opinion in these MINENT bankers say that unless words: the changes they suggest are made

This bill is intended to help Western farmers in the currency bill direful con

especially. The Tribune believes that it will sequences will ensue, that all business

do them more harm than good, not because will be demoralized, and that even such

many of its aims are not meritorious, not beprosperity as we have achieved under the

cause it lacks excellent features, but because present bad currency system will be in it contains provisions which will increase the jeopardy.

cost of transportation for producers and conThough, of course, their suggestions sumers alike, will bury transporting companies merit careful consideration, their prophecies under mountains of litigation, interfere with of ruin should not be taken too seriously. the building of new roads where they are Such prophecies have been made before needed, and in the end do much to bring into

disrepute and odium restrictive measures ununder similar circumstances and without

dertaken sincerely for the public good. any very evil results. In 1887, Congress had under consideration an elaborate plan And in an editorial on March 24, 1887, to regulate the railroads. The railroad

The railroad the New York Sun said: men and their friends, in Congress

Of all haphazard legislation that Washington and out, were as successful and in

has ever known, this paternal governmental telligent men as those who now fear the Interstate Commerce Act now appears to us governmental control of currency. They as perhaps the most thoughtless and misobjected for essentially the same reason chievous that has ever been put forth. If the that the bankers now object to the Federal combined legislative force of the Nation had Reserve Board: the railroads were the done a thing as remote from reason and comexclusive business of their managers; a

mon sense as would be the ruling of an ape "miscellaneous lot of men" could not be

upon the Supreme Bench, and if upon its contrusted to legislate about such a technical

sequences, which are supreme, the greatest business as railroading.

interests of the country must hang in doubt, Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, of Rhode peril, and confusion, what would we expect as

its first results? Island, voiced these fears as follows:

Far from demoralizing the railroad busiWhat I find fault with is that in order to cure

ness, the Interstate Commerce Commission evils which are apparent to the farmers of Illinois or Michigan, you propose to demoralize it upon a stable basis. It is now one of the

has had a powerful influence in placing the whole commerce of the country; you propose to establish an arbitrary, unjust, un

world's greatest tribunals; though the reasonable, impracticable rule, which, while it President appoints all its members, politwill do what you say, will do much more.

ical considerations do not influence its

acts and it has not developed into an inThe Congressional Record quotes Senator strument of oppression. Perhaps we may Platt, of Connecticut, as follows:

have as good fortune under the GlassIt seemed to me, with my knowledge of the Owen currency bill. Years hence, when history of the management of railroads, and the present discussion has been forwith my knowledge of legislation upon this gotten, and the country is going its

A

[ocr errors]

usual prosperous gait, some antiquarian, herself is a programme that will demand on the outlook for literary curiosities, infinite patience and good will and real will amuse the public with the direful patriotism. And it is not a programme comments which certain sections of the from which any political capital can be press are now making upon the present made, for there is nothing dramatic in it. currency plan.

Yet it is a great task, in which, if we suc

ceed, we shall merit the world's thanks. A PATIENT PROGRAMME WITH MEXICO

LABOR UNIONS FOR PEACE SPEEDY settlement of the Mexican

ECENTLY 563 delegates, repreproblem is out of the question,

senting 2,250,000 workmen, met in for the Mexican problem will be

Manchester, England - the Fortywith us in a more or less aggravated form

sixth Annual Trades Union Congress. until that country establishes

peace

The American Federation of Labor was throughout its borders. It is now suffer- represented by two delegates, and for the ing from the accumulated ills of the last first time Canada, Germany, and France two years since revolution wrenched were also represented. In welcoming the Mexican affairs out of the iron hand of Por- delegates the Right Reverend James E. C. firio Diaz. The constructive processes Welldon, Dean of Manchester, said that that must follow such disruption are slow he looked with the utmost hope to the even when they are started and we can development of international trades unions therefore hardly look for an end to Mexi- as agencies of universal peace. can troubles for some years to come. But,

"It is you, above all other bodies,” he on the other hand, once the constructive declared, "who will put an end to war forces get under way our problem is no among the nations." longer acute.

Although the present union organizaFor Mexico's sake and for our own we

tions, even abroad, have not a strong should do everything in our power to help enough hold to withstand the pomp and it start its building up process aright. panoply of war, they are nevertheless an It could hardly do that under Huerta, ever increasing influence against large for his claim rests solely on a military armaments. The workingmen realize more usurpation of power. His becoming Pro

His becoming Pro- and more clearly that, though they pay visional President was but another step taxes for military equipment and do yeoaway from constitutional government. man's service in the ranks, the profit of If he had the ability of Diaz, as he has the wars goes elsewhere. The power of numcourage and cruelty, this grim old Indian bers should make the unions a great might also establish a lasting dictatorship. force for peace, but so far there has not But he has not the wisdom of his former risen from their ranks a great leader to master and, therefore, probably not the make their force effective. ability to maintain a place of power to which he has no claim but strength.

A QUESTION OF UNION LEADERPresident Wilson is optimist enough to

SHIP believe that Mexico is ready to begin building up. He has chosen to try to help that N THE last twenty years in the l'nited country on its big, far-reaching task, a States there has been a great amount of task which Mexico must undertake if it labor legislation. Laws requiring the is to get its affairs on a permanent basis of adoption of safety appliances on the railpeace and progress. It is a statesmanlike roads, in factories

, and in the mines have and patriotic programme that the Presi- been passed in many of the states and dent is following, and the Senate, includ- they are constantly being added to. There ing most of the Republican members who is a tremendous pressure of an awakened put patriotism above partizanship, has risen public opinion upon all manufacturers nobly in its support. To help Mexico help to provide decent working conditions

[ocr errors]

W

and fair hours. Because the ordinary wars in the oil fields.

wars in the oil fields. So far the objects legal procedure failed to give workmen of union attack have fought their own fair compensation for injuries received in fight. In the past, except when it has their work, there has been a rapid spread been inconvenienced, the public has cared of employers' liability laws. A new

new little about it. But there are indications social conscience is restricting the hours of that the same anger which overtook the women's work and gradually prohibiting corporations will also overtake the unions, the working of young children.

for the great mass of the American people All these reforms are primarily in the are no more tolerant of special privileges interest of the working people, and yet, taken by labor organizations than they curious as it may seem, they have been are of privileges usurped by corporations. achieved more by other agencies than by the labor unions. In these constructive

THE RED HAND OF ARSON tasks of social justice the unions have not made their influence felt as they might.

E ARE accustomed, almost calManufacturers, lawyers, social workers,

lous, to the tremendous annual and all kinds of leagues and societies,

fire “waste" in the United charitable and otherwise, have been the States. But to find that one in every four chief promoters of these reforms.

fires in the City of New York is deliberately But even yet there are slow witted men lighted for financial gain — that ought to herded like cattle to work; there are still be enough to startle us out of our indifwomen ruining their health and happiness ference. Fire Commissioner Johnson says: in a few short years in industry; there are

It is my sober judgment that in the City of still little children at work. There

New York at least 25 per cent. of all fires are of should be no abatement in the zeal with

incendiary origin. When it is said that of which we root out these evils. But in 14,571 fires in Greater New York in a single doing this we should be doing justice only. year, 3,643 of them were probably deliberately These things are not favors. They do not started and planned, a full realization of the constitute a special privilege to a partic- prevalence of this crime may be arrived at. ular class. They should be done because

I have during my career in the New York neglecting them works harm to the whole

Fire Department entered a building to find body politic.

many bladders filled with oils hanging around,

ready at the first touch of flame to scatter Some of this legislation seems likely to

their contents, oil-soaked streamers stretching be misinterpreted by the leaders of the

in every direction, ready to communicate the labor unions. While we have been legis- fire to all parts of the premises, and with a lating for social justice on the one hand in candle burning in the midst of a pile of oilfavor of the wage earner, the corporation - soaked rubbish, steadily, second by second, the great employer of labor -- has been burning its way outward toward the surroundundergoing its hour of trial. It had come ing prepared material, perhaps a hundred to look upon itself as a thing with special sleeping people above, tired and worn out with privileges; to gain its ends it had broken their day's toil, while the candle shortens inch the law; and a heavy justice has followed by inch, and while the firebug waits nearby

mentally counting his approaching gain. The labor unions have played their part against the “oppressing corporations” The gain is, of course, the insurance and every defeat of the corporations was money. The life insurance companies accepted as a union advance. But, like the refuse to issue policies to people of certain corporations, the unions have taken advan- callings and characteristics because of the tage of the public indifference to break the risk they run of sickness and death. There law. Conspiracy in restraint of trade is a is an infinitely greater hazard in insuring part of their every-day operations as it buildings for the benefit of men without used to be a routine of business. When character than there is in insuring the occasion demands the unions descend to lives of men with poor health. And the intimidation or even bloodshed. Some fire insurance companies owe it to their of their methods are as bad as the old honest policyholders, to their stockholders, and to the community to be much more general manager plan, for in Staunton the stringent in the moral requirements of the control of the police and fire departments people to whom they issue insurance. remains in the hands of the mayor, and the

About 3,500 fires were deliberately general manager is entrusted principally lighted in New York City last year. with business details, such as the purchasSeventy-two cases of arson were brought to ing of supplies, paving of streets, and simicourt, twenty-three convictions were se- lar functions that involve the expenditure cured. The need is urgent that the hand of money. of the law fall heavier than this upon men This is, of course, also a radical advance who are willing to risk the safety of thou- upon the commission form of government, sands of people to carry out their dishonest under which the legislative and executive schemes for money-making.

functions are in the same hands and under It is time, too, that the public demand which the executive departments are better measures of fire protection. As parcelled out among the commissioners explained elsewhere in this number of the and the executive responsibility thereby magazine, the mutual insurance

insurance com- divided. Dayton puts the whole burden panies have shown that rigid inspection of administration upon one man. Abuse and proper appliances will almost eliminate of his extraordinary power is prevented the risk of fire. While city conditions by provisions for the initiative, referenare not the same as the conditions sur- dum, and recall. rounding the mills insured in the factory Dayton thus approaches the nearest of mutuals, the same methods could accom- all large American cities to the German plish approximately the same results. system, by which the administration of What is needed to get these methods municipal government has become a speciadopted is an enlightened and aroused alized technical profession that is underpublic opinion. The fire problem is not taken as a life work by men of the highest only the insurance companies' business intelligence and ambition, who prepare and the fire commissioners' business, it for the task by years of study and who is every man's business not only in New find their employment well paid and York but in every city in the country. stable. So seriously is their work con

sidered that, a few years ago, a large GerDAYTON'S STEP FORWARD IN man city advertised for months for a CITY GOVERNMENT

mayor (who corresponds to Dayton's

general manager), offering a high salary, AYTON, Ohio, has adopted before an applicant who dared pretend to the “city manager” plan of possess the necessary qualifications asked municipal government to take for the place. effect under a new charter It may very well be that Dayton has

the first of next year. After taken the step forward that will place that date the city council will consist of the chief administrator of a big city's five commissioners whose duties, except affairs in a position of such security and when they appoint the general manager, dignity that municipal government may are purely legislative. They take the

They take the become a field for the best business abilplace of the older larger council and con- ity and the most statesmanlike intelligence centrate responsibility for city ordi- of the country. nances in a few hands. But the remark- Years ago, when the recently-retired able phase of the new charter is the con- Ambassador Bryce wrote “The American centration of practically all the executive Commonwealth," city government was power of a large city in the hands of one the one conspicuous failure which he had man, the general manager. He is to to chronicle. With the wide spread of the administer all the city's business except commission form of government and the the courts and the schools.

hopeful experiments in city-managers, the This is an advance even upon the charter present would afford a much brighter of Staunton, Va., which originated the picture.

D

« PředchozíPokračovat »