The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, December 01, 1911, Image 1

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

VOL, llf NO. 47
Lincoln, Nebraska, December 1, 1911
Whole Number 567
Opportunities and Dangers Confronting
Democrats in Congress
. The democratic congress has two dangers to
avoid: First federal incorporation of "big
business' and. .second, the central bank con
templated by the Aldrich currency scheme. The
democratic party ought to stand as a unit
against both of these. The first la intended to
i?h relieve the trusts of the annoyance of state
regulation; the .second is intended to enable
Wall street to strengthen its strangle-hold on
.the country's business.
. The trust question iB one of the most im
portant questions that will confront the demo
cratic congress and it should be taken up at
once. The house made a mistake in not acting
) i immediately upon the announcement of the su-
preme court decisions in the Standard OJ1 and
- i Tobacco cases. The insertion of the word "un-
. reasonable" in the anti-trust law wag not 'an act
of judicial construction, it was an act of
'legislation. It was an assumption of legislative
power by the court.
" Thirteen years ago the supreme court not
only refused to insert the word "unreasonable"
but declared that to do so would be a violation
of the constitution. The democratic congress
ought to have acted at once; it ought to have
declared by statute that every combination in
i 'restraint of trade should be regarded as un
- reasonable specifically denying the idea written
- . "into the law by the court. And this ought to be
"done now. There ought not to be a moment's
delay. Congress in defense of its own self
respect, and in protection of its own rights as
well as out of deference to the wishes of the
people-r-ought to declare that the law was in
tended to stand as written twenty-one years ago
and not as the supreme court has recently con
strued it. If we have any democrats in congress
who are afraid to take the people's side of the
trust question they ought to be given an oppor
tunity to separate themselves from the real
democrats so that their constituents can replace
them at the next election. We can not afford to
have men call themselves democrats and yet
stand with the trusts as against the general
But legislation restoring the anti-trusfc law
Repairing thd breaches made in it by the su-
preme c'ourtn-is 'nab sufficient. The : democratic
platform! has' -in three, campaigns announced a
remedy the only real remedy proposed on the
trust question. The democratic plan contem
plates the addition of federal supervision to
state legislation. It proposes a license system,
to be invoked whenever a corporation reaches
x point where it controls twenty-five per cent of
the total product. This would leave undisturbed
all but a few of the corporations. Probably not
more than two .or three, hundred out of the tens
of thousands of corporations control anything
like" twenty-five per cent of the total product,
v?but. those irhich are compelled to take out a
license are the ones which need watching.
Licensed corporations would not be permitted
to override state laws, They would simply be
permitted to onter into interstate commerce sub
ject to such regulations as congress might pro
vide and subject in each state to the laws of
that state. Corigres could prescrlbo for licensed
corporations such conditions as might seem
necessary from time to time. The two most
important being, first, that there should be no
water in the stock; and, second, that the cor
poration should sell to all customers upon the
' same terms. Other conditions could be added
but these are most essential.
The democratic plan contemplates also a fifty
per cent limit as a maximum; that is, no cor
poration should be permitted to control more
than fifty per cent of the total product. This
would leave the remaining fifty per cent to be
controlled by one or more competitors, thus in
suring competition. The percentages suggested
twenty-five and fifty are simply tentative.
The twenty-five per cent could be made higher
or lower according to the opinion of members
of congress and maximums of fifty per cent
might be changed to a higher or lower per
centage now, or when experience has thrown
more light upon the subject. The important
thing is that there shall be a maximum limit
a limit at which the corporation comes under
federal supervision and a limit beyond which
it shall not go. Monopoly depends on the per
centage of control, and until the law recognizes
and fixes the percentage the smaller corpora
tions will be without protection and the stock
holders of the larger ones will be uncertain as
to whether they are violating the law or not.
-The Insertion of the word "unreasonable" in
the anti-trust law has destroyed whatever cer
tainty it may have had before and has left
honest business men in the dark as to what is
lawful and what unlawful. The democratic plan
isthe only plan which has been proposed" that
supplies protection to those engaged in legiti
mate business and so defines monopoly that
men engaged in largo business may know what
limits they must respect.
The democratic party in congress has a great
opportunity to protect the people and, at the
same time, protect those business men who,
though anxious to enter upon ambitious plans,
are also desirous of obeying tho law of the land.
Tho democratic party must deal with the
tariff question again, and in so doing it should
begin at the beginning. At tho special session
the democrats were persuadod to pass a bill
which was confessedly unsatisfactory to demo
crats but which was supported on tho theory
that the democrats woro justified in framing a
bill which would bo acceptable to a republican
senate. While tho reasons advanced in behalf
of this plan wero plausible they were not sound.
The democrats should have known that a re
publican senate would not pass tho bill as it
came from the house. Tho progressive republi
cans, claiming all the time to be protectionists,
could not afford to accept a bill passed by a
democratic house where the majority repudiate
the idea of protection. If the democrats had
made the house bill to conform to democratic
ideas and left the republican senate to make
such increases as the senate desired a better
compromise could have been secured. But, be
that as it may, tho experiment was tried and
failed. The house would not think of adopting
now tho tariff bill as it finally went to the
president and, as it must make the bill over
again, it should profit by experience and make
the bill to conform to the democratic theory on
the tariff question.
In other words, It should begin with free wool
and frame the schedule accordingly. This will
give a greater reduction on tho manufactured
products than the bill passed by the house at
the special session. Of course, a free wool
bill will not pass the senate but the democrats
are not to blame for that. They are to blame,
however, if they allow the wool growers to force
the democratic house into an Indorsement of the
principle of protection. If the principle of pro
tection is Indorsed in regard to wool it can not
be rejected as to other things democrats can
not believe in the protection of wool without
surrendering the tariff for revenue only doc
trine" they can not bo protectionists in spots.
The protective theory is either right or wrong.
If it Is right, then the republican party is right
in Insisting that It should be applied wherever
it 'is needed that Is all the republicans ask, but
the word "needed" is usually construed to mean
"desired," for they have never been able to
draw any distinction between the desire of
protected interests and their needs. It is worse
than useless to assert that a tariff on wool is
necessary for revenue. The revenue derived
from wool cpuld be derived much more easily
from a tariff on raw silk and on raw rubber.
-, H
,m.. wiiiria dutA&niv
f llJu-tM
i j i M'ibuJa&i