The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, December 01, 1916, Page 6, Image 6

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The Commoner
"VOL. 16, NO. 12
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.
"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.
"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
, "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.
"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
"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.
"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.
"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 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
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.
"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 is not necessary .that I slioum