The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, December 01, 1916, Page 6, Image 6
Jft j -V,fiV9iyai The Commoner "VOL. 16, NO. 12 c The President's Annual Message At noon, December 0, President Wilson ad dressod the joint session of congress at Wash ington, presenting his annual message. Ho said: "Gentlemen of tho Congress: In fulfilling at this time tho duty laid upon mo by tho constitu tion of communicating to you from time to time information of tho state of tho union and rocom monding to your consideration such legislative measures as may bo judged necessary and ex podiont I shall continuo tho practice, which I hope has boon acceptablo to you, of leaving to tho reports of tho several heads of the execu tive departments tho elaboration of tho detailed needs of tho public service and confine myself to those matters of moro general public policy with which it seems necessary and foasiblo to deal at tho present session of tho congress. "I-roalizo tho limitations of time under which you will nocessarily'act at this session and shall raako my suggestions as few as possible; but there woro somo things loft undono at the last session which there will not bo time to complete and which it scorns necessary in tho interest of the public to do at once. PROGRAM TO BE COMPLETED "In tho first place, it seems to me imperatively necessary that the earliest possible consideration and action should bo accorded tho remaining measures of the program of settlement and reg ulation which I had occasion to recommend to you at the close of your last sossion in view of the public dangers disclosed by tho unaccommo dated difficulties which then existed, and which still unhappily continuo to exist, between the railroads of tho country and their locomotive engineers, conductors and trainmen. "I then recommended: "First, immediate provision for the enlarge ment and administrative reorganization of tho Interstate Commerce commission along tho lines embodied, in tho bill recently." passed by the houso of representatives and now waiting ac tion by the senate; in order that tho commission may bo enabled to deal with the many great and various duties now devolving upon it with a promptness and thoroughness which are, with its present constitution and means of action, practically impossible. EIGHT-HOUR LAW AMENDMENTS "Second, the establishment of an eight-hour day as the legal basis alike of work and of wages in tho employment of all railway employes who are actually engaged in the work of operating trains in interstate transportation. "Third, tho authorization of the appointment by the President of a small body of men to ob serve tho actual results in experience of the adoption of the eight-hour day in railway trans portation alike for the men and for the rail roads. "Fourth, explicit approval by tho congress of tho consideration by the Interstate Commerce commission of an increase of freight rates to meet such additional expenditures by the rail roads as may havo been rendered necessary by tho adoption of the eight-hour day and which havo not been offset by administrative readjust ments and economies, should the facts disclosed justify tho increase FOR SETTLEMENT OF STRIKES , "Fifth, an amendment of the existing federal statute which provides for the mediation, con ciliation, and arbitration of such cotatjeoversies as the present by adding to it a provision that, in caso tho methods of accommodation now pro vided for should fail, a full public investigation of tho merits of every such -dispute shall bo in stituted and completed before a strike or lock put may lawfully bo attempted. SUGGESTIONS RENEWED "And, sixth, the lodgement in the hands of tho executive of the power, in case of military necessity, to take control of such nortions and such rolling stock of the railways of tho coun- lay be required for military use and to oporato them for military purposes.-with author ity to draft into the military service of the United States such train crews and administrative offi cials as tho circumstances reauire for their safe and efficient use . r i m "The second and third of these recommenda tions the congress immediately acted on; it es tablished tho eight-hour day as the legal basis of work and wages in train service and it au thorized the appointment of a commission to observe and report upon the practical results, deeming theso measures most immediately need ed; but it postponed action upon the other sug gestions until an opportunity should be offered for a moro deliberate consideration of them. The fourth recommendation I do not deem it neces sary to renew. Tho power of the Interstate Commerce commission to grant an increase of rates on tho ground referred to is indisputably clear and a recommendation by the congress with regard to such a matter might seem to draw in question the scope of the commission's authority or its inclination to do justice when there is no reason to doubt either. "The other suggestions the increase in the Interstate Commerce commission's membership and in its facilities for performing its manifold duties, the provision for full public investigation and assessment of industrial disputes, and tho grant to the executive of the power to control and operate the railways when necessary in time of war or other like public necessity I now very earnestly renew. "Tho necessity for such legislation is manifest and pressing. Those who havo entrusted us with the responsibility and duty of serving and safeguarding them in such matters would find it hard, I believe, to excuse a failure to act upon theso grave matters or any unnecessary post ponement of action upon them. "Not only does the Interstate Commerce com mission now find it practically impossible, with its presont membership and organization, to per form its great functions promptly and thorough ly, but it is not unlikely that it may presently be found advisable to add to its duties still oth ers equally heavy and exacting. It must first bo perfected as an administrative instrument. MUST HAVE INDUSTRIAL PEACE "The country, can not and should not consent to remain any longer exposed to profound in dustrial disturbances for lack of additional means of arbitration and conciliation which the congress can easily and promptly supply. And all will agree that there must be no doubt as to the power of the executive to make immediate and uninterrupted use of the railroads for the concentration of the- military forces of the na tion wherever they are needed and whenever they are needed. "This is a program of regulation, prevention, and administrative efficiency of the Interstate Commerce commission, and the house of repre sentatives has already acted;' its action needs only the concurrence of the senate. PREVENTION OF STRIKES IMPERATIVE "I would hesitate to recommend, and I dare say tho congress would hesitate to act upon tho suggestion should I make it, that any man in any occupation should be obliged by law to con tinue in an employment which he desired to leave. To pass a law which forbade or prevent ed the individual workman to leave his work before receiving the approval of society in do ing so would be to adopt a new principle into our jurisprudence which I take it for granted we are not prepared to introduce. But the proposal that the operation of the railways of the country shall not be stopped or interrupted by the concerted action of organized bodies of men until a public, investigation shall have been instituted which shall make tho whole question at issue plain for the judgment of the opIhinjeVtlfe nation is not to propose any such. principle. It is based upon the very different principle that the concerted action of powerful bodies of men shall not be permitted to stop the industrial processes of the nation, at any rate before the nation shall have had an opportunity to acquaint itself with the merits or the case as between employe and em ployer, time to form its opinion upon an impar tial statement of the merits, and an opportunity or SIT. aU pctlcable me of conciliation or arbitration. I can see nothing in that nron osit on but the justifiable safeguarding by society of the necessary processes of its very life. There is nothing arbitrary or unjust in it unless it be arbitrarily and unjustly done. It can and ,. ,, be done with a full and scrupulous rega5 ?d the interests and liberties of all conS, r Itself " fr the Permanent interests of society THREE FURTHER POINTS "Three matters of capital importance await the action of -the senate, which have already h acted upon by the house of representatives iu bill which seeks to extend irontn , ' l w i i i.i o--i iiuyuom or Lhe thought by some to be legal under the term Z nnmhinn.f-.lnn fn flinno onnnirari i .. ffwnttm nnmmovnA nt ! - a .. 'DO j.v..bU "'mwvi; ! iub uuuiury tnan is the laws against monopoly; the bill amending tho present organic law of Porto Rico- and t bill proposing a more thorough and systematic regulation of the expenditure of money in elop tions, commonly called the Corrupt Practices act. I need not labor my advice that these meas ures be enacted into law. Their urgency lies in the manifest circumstances which render their adoption at this time not only opportune but necessary. Even delay would seriously jeapord the interests of the country and of the govern ment. "! "Immediate passage of the bill to regulate the expenditure of money in elections may seem to be less necessary than tho immediate enactment of the other measures to which I refer; because at least two years will elapse before another election in which federal offices are to be filled; but it would greatly relieve the public mind if this important matter were dealt with while tho circumstances and dangers of the public morals of the present method of obtaining and spend ing campaign funds stand clear under recent ob servation and the methods of expenditure can be frankly studied in the light of present experi. ence; and a delay would have the further very serious disadvantage of postponing action until another election was at hand, and some special object connected with it might be thought to he in the mind of those who urged it. Action can be taken now with facts for guidance and with out suspicion of partisan purpose. "I shall not argue at length the desirability of giving freer hand in the matter of combined and concerted effort to those who shall under take the essential enterprise of building up our export trade. That enterprise will presently, will immediately assume, has indeed already as sumed, a magnitude unprecedented in our ex perience. We have not the necessary instru mentalities for its prosecution; it is deemed to be doubtful whether they could be created upon an adequate scale under our present laws. Wo should clear away all legal obstacles and create a basis of undoubted law for it which will give freedom without permitting unregulated license. The thing must be done now, because the oppor tunity is here and may escape us if we hesitate or delay. "The argument for the proposed amendments of the organic law of Porto" Rico is brief and conclusive. The present laws governing the is land and regulating the rights and privileges of its people are not just. We have created expecta tions of extended privilege which we have not satisfied. There is uneasiness among the people of the island and even a suspicious doubt with regard to our intentions concerning them which - the adoption of the pending measure would hap pily remove. We do not doubt what we wish to do in any essential particular. We ought to do it at once. INDUSTRIAL PREPAREDNESS "At the last session of the congress a bill was passed by the senate which provides for the pro motion of vocational and industrial education which is of vital importance to the whole country because it concerns a matter too long neglected, upon which thorough industrial preparation of tho country for the critical . years of economic development immediately ahead of us in very large measure depends. May I not urge its early and favorable consideration by the house of rep resentatives and its early enactment into law It contains plans which affect all interests aiUA all parts of the country, and I am sure that there is no legislation now pending before the congress whose passage the country awaits with more thoughtful approval or greater impatience to see a great and admirable thing set in the way of being done. - "There are other matters already advanced to the stage of conference between the two houses of which.it is not necessary .that I slioum 1 .