The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, April 03, 1903, Image 1

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The Commoner.
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Vol. 3. No. ii.
Lincoln, Nebraska, April 3, 1903.
Whole No. 115.
Missouri Bits the Trusts.
The Missouri supreme courf has found five
great beef packing companies Luiity of maintain
ing an unlawful combination to control the price
of beef in that state, and has levied a fine of five
thousand dollars on each. of the companies. The
'opinion of the court was unanimous, and the
companies affected are the Armour, Cudahy, Ham
mond, Swift, and Schwarzchild and Sulzburger
companies. .
A fine of five thousand dollars in such a case
is, of course, insignificant when compared with
.the profits made by the companies, and this calls
attention to the fact that in large violations of
the law the punishments are not in proportion to
the magnitude of the offence. It may be said that
from a moral standpoint the crime is as great
when one steals a small amount as when he steals
a large amount, and yet it is well known that
public opinion does hot condemn large violations
as it does small violations, and therefore the
pecuniary penalty ought to be great enough to
protect the public from repeated infractions of the
law. In the cases mentioned, the fines imposed,
while they may be the maximum fines allowed un
der the law, will hardly restrain the companies
from another conspiracy against the public. The
court could, upon the evidence, have prohibited
them from doing business in the state, and yet
such a judgment might havo hurt the people of
the state as much as the corporations.
These cases bring plainly to view the inabil
ity of one state alone to furnish a complete or
satisfactory remedy and prove the wisdom of the
Kansas City platform, which suggested a federal
The present anti-trust law, the Sherman
law, is sufficiently broad to cover such a conspir
acy against trade as that formed by the pack
ers, and, if enforced by imprisonment, would
strike terror into the hearts of the trust magnates.
But the present law only relates to conspiracies
between separate individuals or corporations. An
other remedy is necessary when a number of cor
porations are merged in one and the one cor
poration controls the market In tne case re
cently tried in Missouri it was shown that fiva
distinct and separate corporations conspired to
gether to fix the price of meat, but suppose the
five corporations should consolidate, and form one
corporation? The injury to the public would be
even greater because, instead of having to agree
among themselves, the corporation would act as a
unit, fnd yet if such a consolidation was formed
neither the Sherman anti-trust law nor the anti
trust laws of the various states would reach th9
evil. The Kansas City platform remedy does,
however, reach this very evil, and that remedy
added to the present remedy, and the two rem
edies enforced by an administration really in sym
pathy with the public, would kill the trusts.
Let the criminal clause of the anti-trust law be
enforced against the officials of the various cor
porations if they combine against the public, and
then let congress declare that large corporations,
before engaging in interstate commerce, must se
cure a permit from the federal government which
permit can be granted only upon conditions that
will make a private monopoly impossible.
The state of Missouri is to be congratulated
upon the enforcing of its state law against these
powerful companies, and the federal government
is to be censured for not having used the crim
inal law against these same corporations. But
congress and the administration cannot escape
blame for failure to enact the legislation needed
to protect the public from trust extortion. The
failure of the president and congress to do some
thing really effective shows how absurd it Is to
expect the trusts to be killed so long as the gov
ernment is in the hands of officials who secure
election through the aid of contributions collected
from th,e corporations.
, The Cincinnati Situation.
The Commoner is asked whether it will apply
to the Cincinnati situation the same argument
that was made two years ago when Holla Wells
was nominated for mayor of St. Louis. Yes. The
readers of The Commoner will remember that ob
jection was made to the nomination of Mr. Wells
by the democratic party, and the reason given was
that the party should not be held responsible for
the conduct of a man who rejected the principles
of the party as set forth In the national platform.
But at the same time The Commoner suggested
that whenever it became necessary to take non
partisan action in municipal affairs it should bo
done through an independent nomination. Mr.
Ingalls of Cincinnati has been nominated for
mayor by an independent movement, and has not
been indorsed by the democratic convention. Ho
does toot, therefore, stand in tho attitude that Mr.
Wells did. Whether the local democrats should
support him is a question which they can decide
'for themselves. They do not need advice from
.without, because no outsider can be as well in
formed about the conditions that they have to
meet. The fact that Mr. Ingalls is not in har
mony with all of the Kansas City platform Is not
in itself conclusive proof that he is incompetent
for the place because he does toot deal with na
tional quostions. His views on the local questions
that are up for settlement are more important It
has been suggested that if elected mayor he will
become a candidate for governor, and afterward
for president If he does, tho democrats will
scrutinize his views on national questions. Not
being a democratic candidate he cannot appeal to
democrats as a party nominee. Democrats should
vote for him or against him according to their
opinion of his merits. It would be a reflection
upon the intelligence of the people of Cincinnati
and Ohio to assume that they could not distinguish
between the availability for a city office and avail
ability for a higher office which must deal with
other questions.
The fact that Mr. Ingalls is the president of
a railroad suggests that his sympathies may be
"on the side of the corporations in contests be
tween them and tho people as a whole, atod this
might effect his action in matters of taxation and
on questions effecting municipal ownership, but
his position on these subjects ought to be made
known either by his platform or by the speeches
which he makes. The Commoner would urge in
dependence ito the selection of municipal officials.
Men ought to be judgod upon their merits and
upon their ability to meet e isting conditions,
rather than because of their membership in a na
tional political party. In some of the smaller
cities no party nominations are made, all the
candidates being brought out either by petition or
by movements organized Jtor the securing of some
specific reform, or the enforcing of some line of
policy. Much of tho corruption in the large cities
is due to the fact that the politcial machine,
strengthened by tho patronage it has to dispose of,
controls nominations and forces unworthy meto
upon the party. If every one felt free to decide
between men, considering only their character
and the policies for which they stand, a great ad
vance would be made toward pure local govern
ment. The republican party ito Cincinnati is domi
nated by a political boss and must also be con
sidered. Whether Mr. Ingalls is the man best
fitted to overthrow him is a question for the
voters to determine.
The reorganizers are making an effort to cap
ture the democratic convention about to be held
in the Wichita, Kas., district to nominate a can
didate to succeed Senator Long. It behooves tho
loyal democrats to be on their guard. We need
more voters in the democratic party than tho
railroad attorneys, financiers and federal office
seekers can supply, and wo cannot expect to get
them unless the democratic party stands boldly
and consistently for the rights of the people on
all questions. And nowhere is Kansas City plat
form democracy more essential than in the west
ern states.
Harmony and Harmony.
The, editor of Tho Commoner has received an
unsigned lettor such letters are usually unsigned
asking why Mr. Bryan is not willing to worj:
for "democratic harmony;" why ho docs not
"make an effort to unite all men bolleving in
democratic principles;" why ho "keeps up a war
in tho democratic camp?" This unknown corre
spondent Insists that "peace and harmony are
essential to success," and suggests that Mr. Bryan
ought to "try to rehabilitate tho democratic party
and bring it into public favor." As a clincher ho
asks who Is to be "tho proper judge or judges of
genuine, sound and sterling democracy?"
There are other things In the letter which in
dicate that the writer's sympathies are really
with those who bolted the ticket father than with
thosqj who supported the paity in recent cam
paigns, but an answer is given for the beneflt of
those readers who have to meet theso inquiries.
Mr. Bryan is interested in securing democratic
harmony, and certainly has more personal reason
to regret a lack of harmony In tho party than
.tho men who, after voting for tho republican
ticket, now clamor so loudly about "letting by
gones bq by-gones." Mr. Cleveland was electcl
by the democratic party in 1892, and no one will
seriously dispute the fact that ho proceeded at
once, knowingly and wilfully, to misrepresent tho
people Who elected him upon an Issue which his
own conduct made paramount for tho time being.
Waiving for the present the right of a party nom
inee to betray those who nominated him and to
barter away the suffrages that ho had received, it
is sufficient to say that Mr. Cleveland was tho
greatest disturber of party harmony of tho pres
ent generation. Never before in the history of
the party did a democratic president undertake
to change the party's attitude upon a great pub
lic question, or to force upon the party as a party
measure a bill identical in purpose and almost
identical in language, with a bill drawn by tho
leaders of the opposing party. This Mr. Cleve
land did. The bill introduced by Congressman
Wilson in August, 1893, was almost an exact copy
of a bill introduced for the sanrn purpose by Sena
tor John Sherman a year before.
The president's action was made the issue in
the fight for delegates to the national convention
of 189G, and in spito of the influence of patronage,
the influence of money and the Influence of all
the great corporations, the rank and fllo of tho
party by a large majority repudiated the presi
dent's policy and adopted a platform that in effect
condemned his course and pointed out a course
directly opposite,.
This was the' most democratic convention held
in fifty years and probably the most democratic
ever held in the United States. Seldom, if over,
before had a battle been waged between the voters
at the primaries on a definite principle, and never
before did a convention inore perfectly reflect the
sentiments of the voters of the party. What wai
the result? The administration and all who
could be influenced by the administration, tho
great financiers, the great corporation lawyers and
all who held their service to corporation above
their party allegiance, joined in an effort to de
feat the democratic ticket and elect tho republi
can ticket. Some of these bolting democrats went
directly into the republican party and have been
there ever since; some stopped half way, and
tried to organize a new democratic party. Having
failed in this, some of these went over to the re
publican party and some returned to the demo
cratic fold. Of the prominent ones who returned
nearly all boasted of what they had done, and
few have ever announced a change of heart or a
change of opinion upon public questions. They
now demand harmony. And at what price? Tho
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