The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, August 28, 1908, Page 6, Image 6

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The Commoner.
clination to amend his platform, for he has already made a patch
work1 'quilt of the convention's platform by promiscuous amend
ments. And to what "well known" methods does he refer? To the
underselling of competitors in one section while the price is main
tained elsewhere? And yet this is the very thing which we propose
to remedy, but he proceeds to denounce our remedy as absurd and
socialistic. The trouble with Secretary Taft is that he spends so
much time trying to discover excuses for inaction in trust matters
that he has none left for the consideration of effective remedies.
He spends more time uttering warnings against remedies proposed
than he does in pointing out the evils to be remedied or in suggest
ing remedies. He says:
"The combination of capital in large plants to manufacture
goods with the greatest economy is just as necessary as the as
sembling of the parts of a machine to the economical and more
rapid manufacture of what in old times was made by hand."
And ho adds that :
"The government should not interfere with one any more than
the other, when such aggregations of capital are legitimate and
are properly controlled, for they are the 'natural results of modern
enterprise and are beneficial to the public."
No one proposes to interfere with, production on a large scale.
No one objects to production on a scale sufficiently large to enable
the producer to utilize by-products and take advantage of all the
economies that large production makes possible. It is just here
that the trust magnates attempt to confuse the public mind, and
Mr. Taft has unconsciously adopted their language.
Let the issue be made plain; let the distinction be accurately
drawn; let the respective positions of the parties be fully under-
stood. The democratic party does not oppose all corporations; on
the contrary, it recognizes that the corporation can render an im
portant service to the public. The democratic party wants to employ
every instrumentality that can be employed for the advancement
of the common good; but the democratic party draws the line at
the private monopoly, and declares that a private monopoly can
not be justified on either economic or political grounds.
From an economic standpoint, a monopoly is objectionable.
The moment a corporation secures a practical monopoly in the pro
duction or sale of any article, certain evils appear which' out
, weigh any good that can come from large production or control.'
Wherever private monopolies exist, certain irresistible tendencies
manifest themselves. First, it raises pricesthis is the first thing
thought of for the increasing of profits. Then, in proportion as it
becomes the only purchaser of the raw material, it reduces the price
of the raw material, and the producer of that raw material, having
no other market, must accept the price offered. In this way, too
the profits of the corporation are increased. Third, a reduction in
the quality of the product affords an opportunity for increasing
profits. Fourth, reduction in wages follows wherever conditions
will permit.
Competition protects the purchaser, for when a number of in
dependent producers stand ready to supply him with what he needs,
lie can choose between them and buy from the one who offers the
best product at the lowest price. He is also protected in quality
because those who compete for the opportunity to sell to him must
show either advantage in price or advantage in quality. Competi-
tion protects the man who produces raw material, for when there
are a number of bidders for that which is being sold, he can accept
the highest price offered. Competition also helps the wage-earner
for his skill is the finished product" which he offers upon the market'
and where a number of independent industries are endeavoring to
secure the highest skill, the skilled laborer has the best assurance
of obtaining a fair recompense; when there is but one employer
the employe must take the price offered, .because he will lose the
advantage of his experience if he must go out to find a different
kind of employment.
The business men of the country have felt the pressure of the '
trusts. The retailer has been compelled to enter into contracts
- Which restrict his management of his own affairs, he has found the
terms of sale and payment changed to his disadvantage and he has
been forced to carry more and more of the risks of trade He is
convinced that there are no good trusts and that his only safety is
in the democratic plan which lays, the axe at the root of the tree
The traveling men naturally take especial interest in the trust
question, because the more complete the monopoly secured" bv a
corporation the less they are needed. We have no mpre intelligent
class than the representatives of commerce, and their retirement
from the road would mean a serioiis loss to the country white a few
promoters would be the only persons benefited, they gaining bv
the capitalization of the salaries, saved by the .eUminatipn of com
petition.. , i , .
Mr, Taft either misunderstands or misrepresents the democratic
position in regard to the extermination of the principle of private
monopoly. In his notification speech, he says:
"Mr. Roosevelt would compel the trusts to conduct their busi
ness in a lawful manner and secure the benefits of their operation
and the maintenance of the prosperity of the country of which they
are an important part; while Mr. Bryan would. extirpate and destroy
the entire business in order to stamp out the evils which they have
Here is a confession by Mr. Taft that he regards the" trusts as
necessary to the nation's prosperity, for he declares 'that they play
an important part in the maintenance of prosperity, and he
charges that I would "extirpate and destroy"- business in extirpat
ing and destroying the principle of private monopoly. Surely, his
study of the trust question has been very superficial, if he sees
danger in the restoration of a reign of competition.
Let us take an illustration: Suppose the democrats succeed
in the enactment of a law in harmony with the democratic plat
forma law requiring every corporation to take out a federal
license before it is permitted to control twenty-five per cent of
the business in which it is engaged. Would this "extirpate and
destroy" the business of the country? As already stated,' but a very
small per cent of the corporations would be affected by the law,
and those affected would be the 'ones that have been giving the
officers of the law so much trouble during the last eighteen years.
As the licensed corporation increased its business from, twenty-five
per cent to fifty per cent, it would be under the watchful eye of
the government, would be compelled to make such reports as the
government required, would be prohibited from watering its stock,
and would be required to sell to all customers upon the same terms,
due allowance being made for cost of transportation. Would it
'extirpate and destroy" business to require these licensed corpora
tions to do business on an honest basis and to be reasonable in their
business methods? Would not the benefit accruing to the ninety
nine small corporations thus protected from conscienceless methods
be enough to offset any evil effects that might follow from such
restraint of a few big corporations? Is business so dependent upon
dishonesty and unfairness that it would be 'extirpated and de
stroyed" if morals were introduced into it? When the licensed
corporation reached a point where it controlled one-half of the
business in which it was engaged, it would, according to the dem
ocratic plan, have to stop expanding. Would it "extirpate and
destroy" business to put this limitation upon the greed of a few
corporations? Surely our plan could not injuriously affect cor
porations that might hereafter seek to establish a monopoly.
But possibly Mr. Taft thinks that it would "extirpate and
destroy" business to apply the plan to existing monopolies. Let
us see: Suppose we have a corporation now controlling seventy
five per cent of the output of the article in which it deals, and
through this control, regulating the price and the terms of sale.
How would the democratic plan affect it? A date would be fixed
at which the law would take effect, and on or before that date the
corporation would be required to apply for a license. The evi
dence would show that it controlled a larger proportion of the
product than the law permitted, and it would be compelled to sell
off enough of its plants to reduce its output to fifty per cent of the
J i S.-S Xt CUld th?n Comply the law obtain i1;s license,
WnJE Mf ? ? Cary 0n lts business in accordance with the law.
ZIL etirPate and destroy" business to compel such a cor
tS8pS!e lenoueh of its Plant to reduce its production
?LJS CenTh(; pePle would stiU need the article which
y?u?eJ and be Plants which it was compelled to sell would
3 S ependent plants competing with it. This competition
dernf fl mC? andJthe reduced Prices would Urease the
thfZnnL ar-tlcle' and this increased demand would stimulate
labor A0f mT faf one and give a larger employment to
extirJL BtSTfT .f petition in that industr instead of
it A tf ?f S? destroying" the industry would revive and enlarge
a chl " the benefit would go to the consumers in the form-of
5i,r 5? 'produ?t and a hetter product, part would go to the pro-
gto thtLmaterial ? of a beter Price ad Pt would
fon , tn IZ? Q?ZTln !he form of better wages. The only per
able to PniiL7ld? Vhe trUSt maates, who would no longer be
t in stock by trolling the market.
eitW t li $ e? 1S anal7zed will be seen that Mr. Taft must
StlT ? t0 ,the remedy and its effect or he must
KS? esf n f ralS int bUSineSS W0Uld "extirPate
Wfljhna!e uoted and re-quoted Mr. Taft's language because I
rbsurdL'Ttt8 TVhQ .nds of those who listen to me the
of extermiW T?jectlon. whicb be raises to the democratic plan
nS35SfwlqP?leB, He fails t0 distinuish between the
honest business that makes ,a country prosperous and the brig
andage practiced by private monopolies! f he people have
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