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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (March 1, 1915)
VOL. 15, NO. 3
'i IV W' 'S..'
Government and Business
JoBopli B. Davles, tho newly ap
pointed head of tlio federal trade
commission, gave a lecture recently
in the Edward Bole Foundation se
ries at Williams college, Williams
town, Mass., in which ho told what
tho Wilson administration has done
to set business free, and in which he
also gave an idea of the work of the
now federal trade commission ap
pointed by President Wilson Febru
ary 22. His subject was "Govern
ment and Business." Tho following
report of his address is taken from
tho Milwaukee Journal:
"Freedom In political opportunity,
which is guaranteed by the consti
tution, necessarily involves freedom
in industrial and national opportun
ity. Absolutism or tyranny in an in
dustrial and financial way is as ab
horrent to our conception of govern
ment as political absolutism. Mon
opoly is industrial and financial mon
archy. It is the negation of dem
ocracy. FOR BUSINESS INDEPENDENCE
"Tho Sherman law was, therefore,
the declaration of industrial and fi
nancial independence. It aims to
lceop tho channels of trade free and
open through the processes of com
petition, through regulated competi
tion, and elimination of monopoly.
AN INDIVIDUALISTIC ERA
"This judgment has come in spite
or, and perhaps on account of, tho
unusual conditions surrounding the
life of this young nation. Machin
ery, division of labor, large-scale
production, combination, the develop
ment of international trade, have
created a new era within the last cen
tury. It brought great opportunities
to tho individual.
"These conditions were accentuated
in this new virgin country, and the
" processes of wresting great fortunes
out of the hills and mills developed
minds and men of great individual
ism. It was but natural that men
bred under such conditions should
chafe under any restrictions placed
upon their development.
"There came a breed of strong,
able men, and men honest according
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to their lights, who became impatient
with any consideration of govern
ment authority. The public sense of
tb,o community took good-natured
and tolerant cognizance of this spirit
which gave impetus and developed
such gigantic business enterprise and
success. The restrictions sought to
be imposed by government for the
general good were openly fought or
covertly avoided. It was but natural
that grave abuses should arise.
"The school systems which the vir
tue of tho pioneer had so prodigally
provided, the press and other agencies
of intelligence gradually developed a
public conscience which induced a
revolt and public condemnation of
abuses of financial ability and power.
"There has come a new attitude
among the masters of great business
enterprise and finance. There has
come a recognition that the law must
be obeyed, and that personal punish
ment should be imposed upon those
who insist upon being outlaws under
tne rules of fair dealing generally
recognized among honest business
men. The old spirit of vigorous in
dividualism has been tempered, too,
by a new feeling of social conscious
ness that recognizes an obligation to
society. The wise leaders of the bus
iness world are seeking more, not to
avoid the law, but to adhere strictly
"Passion has subsided irttn ihtx In-
sire to build equitably and fairly,
both for the benefit of the social good
and also to enable business to under
stand more clearly what law and so
ciety demanded. It was under such
conditions the program of the pres
ident of the United States with ref
erence to so-called business legisla
tion was inaugurated.
NEW TRUST LEGISLATION
"The president delivered his mes
sage to congress embodying his trust
program on January 20 last... In it
he set forth his plan for the construc
tive development of the law in so
wonderful a way and in such an in
imitable manner, and so forcefully,
that it immediately challenged the
admiration and support of the whole
business community of the nation.
There was scarcely a dissent, and so
well has the spirit of his message
been interpreted by congress that two
great constructive measures were
placed upon the statute books.
"Tho federal trade commission bill
passed the house without a single
dissenting vote, and with practically
a unanimous vote in the United
States senate. There was practically
unanimity of opinion, too, as to the
"This recent trust legislation was
an attempt to mako more clear the
things forbidden, to provide for addi
tional remedies to persons wronged
by violations, thereof, to make prop
erty rights in corporations more se
cure by the imposition of personal
sunt upon gramng officers of corpor
ations. LAW CLEARED BY DEFINITION
"Certain nrnnHnoa cji, i
.discrimination, tying contracts and
uuiuir memoas or competition, were
definitely declared by statute to be
"Personal guilt is imputed to di
rectors or officers of corporations en
gaged in interstate commerce who di
rectly or indirectly defraud stock
holders to their own enrichment.
AGAINST INTERLOCKING '
"Interlocking stockholdings and
directorates are under certain condi
tions prescribed. It is indicative of
the discriminating wisdom and scien
tific care with which these intricate
matters were approached and treated
by congress that these .conditions are
declared to be illegal where they sub
stantially lesson competition, and the
determination of that fact, after due
hearing, is left to trained experts.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
"A business tribunal is constituted
by the federal trade commission act.
The commission will be a nonpartisan
board of five men, whose tenure of
office shall be seven years. Its mem
bership, in the wisdom of the presi
dent, will undoubtedly bo character
ized by qualities of practical and ex
tensive familiarity with business af
fairs, expert knowledge of industry,
and indisputable integrity.
EXPERT KNOWLEDGE OF BUS
INESS "The federal trade commission, so
constituted, holds promise of the
greatest of service, not only to the
country at large, but to the business
community. Through its agency a
mass of information will be gathered,
co-ordinated, classified, and digested.
The facts will be of record and known
to a body of men charged with the
enforcement of tho law.
"The members of this commission
will obtain therefrom not only a per
spective of the constituent industries
of the country, but will have in the
course of time an intima$: under
standing of the constitution of the
different industries, their organiza
tion, the degree of centralization,
their needs, and their relation to
markets. This body of co-ordinated
information will be available to con
gress and to the president.
BUSINESS MEN ADVISE COURTS
"To take testimony as a master in
chancery, and to advise With the
court in the formation of decrees,
this trade body of experts is subject
to call by the courts. It brings to
the administration of the law not
only legal knowledge, but expert
knowledge of $j5onomic conditions
and industrial processes which may
be prolific of great good.
AID TO BUSINESS ADJUSTMENT
"In certain situations where the
government has brought suits to dis
solve trusts or to restrain certain
practices, the defendants have frank
ly gone to the department of- justice,
admitted such practices, pleaded in
extenuation either lack of knowledge
or pressure or overpowering business
necessity, and have convinced the de
partment of justice that there was
no malicious intent to violate the
Sherman law. In some such situa
tions the attorney general has in the
past, prescribed certain nnnrliMnTin
which the government would exact inJ
the reorganization of business.
"This situation holds within it
great possibilities in the accomoda
tion of business to the requirements
of the law. It entails as well possi
bilities of great abuse, and it involves
grave and serious responsibility of
the attorney general. It has been
exercised with great discernment in
the past, and it would not be at all
strange if in the future, as in the
past, it might be exercised with great
"The federal trade commission is a
continuous and nonpolitical body of
business experts. It is subject to the
call of the attorney general in a sit
uation of this kind. Its knowledge
would certainly be coextensive with
the knowledge of the department of
justice, and in the course of time its
experience would be much greater.
There is assurance also of greater
continuity of purpose and policy in
such a situation, and in the course of
time it is, conceivable that there
would be built up a body of adminis
trative law that would be consistent
in its development, not subject to
political change, and be of the great
est of benefit to the business com
munity as affording a means whereby
business methods., might be exnedL
tiously accomodated and reaSX
to the requirements of the law
ABOLITION OF UNFAIR COMPETT
"Some of the great monopolies of
the world have been built up, not by
efficiencies but by practices of un
fairly driving out competitors.
'The greatest menace to the great
body of business men of this nation
lies in the practices of unfair com
petition which are potential in large
and monopolistic rivals. Of the 305 -000
corporations of the United States
296,000 have a capital, surplus and
undivided profits of a million dollars
or less. But 1,6 0Q corporations have
a capitalization of $5,000,000 or
oyer. And yet 100 of these corpora
tions own one-seventh of the total
property value of the nation.
"The greatest menace to these 296,
000 corporations of relatively small
capital, who constitute 95 per cent
of the business interests of the coun
try, is the unfair methods of compe
tition which might be employed by
"There have been attempts to
translate this legislation into terms
of menace to business. This arises
either from ignorance or perversity.
No honest business man can read and
understand this legislation but will
conclude that not only is there no
suggestion of war upon legitimate
business, but that there is indeed im
mediate and great potential promise
of distinct aid and service to legiti
mate enterprise and industry. It is a
translation into law of the purposes
and hope of the president of the
United States to eradicate the evil, to
preserve that which is healthful, and
to establish a constitution of peace,
within which and under which there
mav nnmfl an am. of ernnd feelincr be
tween public opinion, business and
SIR WALTER RALEIGH
"I spread my cloak to keep her feet
from the wet," complained Sir Wal
"Yet you lost out with Queen Eliz
abeth in the end."
"You don't understand girls,
Walt," commented his friend. "You
should have carried her across."5
Louisville Courier Journal.
ADVICE TO ALMOST ANYBODY
When your other tasks are through,
o Hammer Bryan!
When you've nothing else to do,
1 . Hammer Bryan!
Got a pimple on your lip?
Have your trousers sprung a rip?
Ha;s the baby got the pip?
Who's the cause of all your woe?
Making trouble high and low?
Who makes butchers slick and sly,
And the price of grub so high,
Dooming countless men to die?
What's the remedy, my son?
He's behind the damage done.
It is Bryan that brings the snow.
It is Bryan that takes your dough,
Bryan who makes the coal run low.
When you've nothing else to do,
What's fair play to me and you?
Hammer him from morn 'til-night.
Knock him wrong and knock mm
He's the only goat in sight.
By J. P. M'Evoy in the Chicago
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