The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, January 01, 1917, Page 8, Image 8

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

The Commoner
VOL. 17, NO. 1
v .
a national character that It requires a single
national tribunal to regulato It. An extract
from a recent report of Special Master W. S.
Thbrlngton, sitting in tho Central of Georgia
ana. Western Railway of Alabama rate hearings,
is In point on this separation betwoen local and
Interstate business. Ho stated:
" 'Tho vlco of such a claim consists in tho
, assumption of tho unity, and insoparabloness in
' all cases of tho two classes ot traffic .
" 'That ouch a separation is difficult or not
possiblo. with tho exactness of mathematical
certitude is very generally admitted, but it
wpuld bo a startling canon of construction that
a state is to bo deprived of a right so vital -because
of difficulties in. the way of its exorciso
, 'when such a principle has never been applied
i' to the individuals scoring to enforce, ordinary
,'( rights in tho courts.'
"One sentence will contain ,an answer v to
claims of this character, that it is difficult to
separate tho expenses on logal and through
"Even after you have removed tho state, .lines
tho problem of reasonable Jocal rates stiU re
malhs. . ,. i ,)
"The longor tho hauls and, the hlgherVtho
rates , tho bettor it is for tho stockholders in
railway companies. Upon th,b other hand, it; is
to the interest of tho public, generally, to have
short hauls as well as long hauls antj'to have
rated just as low as uioy can reasonably be
placed, providing it does not seriously Intorfero
with tho prosperity and growth of tho railway
business. In order to toll, whether local, rates
are reasonable or not It will bo necessary always
to make some division between operating ex
penses, earnings, and values. This will bd true
whether state governments or whether tho na
tional government has jurisdiction over these
local hauls. Tho problem of the reasonaDlo
local haul in all Its complexity, would still be
with us oven if you wore able to destroy state
" '"Occasionally one hears' about various ex
, araples of freak legislation on tho part "of somo
states. These aro very rare. The argument
that such acts impeach the whole Tjody of state
legislation is like saying that one sinner in a
church renders the whole church a failure.
This arguraont is actually advanced from time
to time; the only thing it proves is th6 ajslnine
Btupidity of tho man who makes' the -argument.
There have boon a Hundred wise and beneficial
laws enacted to one that- is foolish; and- gen
erally tho unwise law has been quickly rcle-
- gated to tho realm of dblivloh by the courts or
.by-Jtho solid good sense of .public' oplhfan '-causing
its repeal. ' " .." ;
"Should it over bo proven in any given case
that a state has roduced it's interior rates with
v .the deliberate purpose of favoring "Kb own in
dustries to the injury of aun'eighborlng state,
then it will bo ample aimef or, the courts to-interfere.
There is not a state, commissioner In
America who supports such a policy. i (See
Ban Diego Land & Town Go. v. JaBpor, 189 U
B., 439; Knoxville Waterloo, v. Knoxville,. -189
U. S. 434, 439.) .,. . ' . ,
"The real issue is practical rather than the
oretical in character. It 'is- not whether wo
lhall abolish all sato regulation, but, instead,
whethor this or that- is sTpp'per function '"to
bo performed by tho state. Whenever the' act
of -a. state legislature or commission' does, in
fact, conflict with the findings of the Interstate
commerce commission as to what is just and
t reasonable, and directly interferes with and
places a burden upon interstate commerce,
practically all of us, at least the vast majority,
are ready to acknowledge that such a condi
tion of affairs should not continue. Either the
courts ort somo other tribunal not a party to
tho disagreement should have power to determine-
which rate is reasonable. If additional
legislation' bo needed to clarify this situation
efforts along that line will ultimately Buc'cded!
' But' that does not affect to -the slightest extent
the other proposition that where a given act
ofHai stats; tribunal does not interfere with in
terstate commerce it should- 'stand. The' de
velopments of the lawLa's been along ttte line
-of fdetermlnlny what does and "what ddes not
Interfere with interstate cottim&fce. This kind
fi'legi8latlon and judicial interpretation have
been in progress for many years. .EfuVlfris a
wholly ndw and unheard-of proposition -to do
ftway with state regulation. This la a doctrine
that jeopardizes our institutions.
"In case of a discrimination between rates,
that ono which Is unreasonable should yield.
If such a conflict exists (botween state and in
terstate rates, lot the supreme court determine
which ono is reasonable and must stand, and
the other should bo disapproved. The judi
ciary has no power to determine reasonable
rates for tho future, but it has exercised tho
power of determining the reasonableness of
rates already established. Even If that were
not so, it would bo better to amend the consti
tution In that respect than to devitalize our dual
system of government, by a virtual amendment
In anpther manner.
"Chief Justice Marshall retained to the full
est extent entire appreciation of tho importance
of the federal judiciary and the national gov
ernment, thereby securing to as and to poster
ity one nation instead of many; yet Chief Jus
tice Marshall was capable also of realizing the
value of the states in our scheme of govern
ment. "In the famous case of Gibbons v. Odgen (9
Wheat., 1, 203), Marshall commenting on these
powers reserved to the states, csaid:
" 'They form a portion of that Immense mass
of legislation which embraces everything with
in tho territory o a state not surrendered to
the general government; all which can be most
advantageously exercised by the states them
selves. Inspection laws, quarantine laws,
health laws of every description, as well as laws
for regulating the internal commerce of a state,
and those which respect turnpike roads, fer
ries, etc., are component parts of this mass.'
Mr. Justice Hughes, in the masterly opinion
rendered in the Minnesota Rate case, gives,
recognition to tho same principle. He says:
" Our system of government is a practical
adjustment, by which the national authority as
conferred by the constitution is maintained in
its full scope without unnecessary loss of local
"The great benefit urged, on behalf; of exclu
sive national control' is uniformity. We have
made a sort of modern feti3h out 'of this slogan,
'uniformity.' Anything done In" the "home of
uniformity wo assume to jbe right and proper.
To be sure uniformity Is very greatly to be de
sired. We all agree on that proposition. But
therfc is something even better and more im
portant than uniformity that is, wise regu
lation. Rates may be uniformly high, or uni
formly low. Rules of service may bo uniformly
harsh and rigid or uniformly lax and. weak.
Proof that they are uniform does not prpve
that they are just. ,
"Wise regulation contemplates vastly mptfo
than more uniformity. ' If uniformity were 'the
summum bonum, we should Jhave a world gov
ernment prescribing what time of the year we
must plow and reap, what kind of education
, we shall give to our children etc, Hajryest
' time depends somewhat upon the particular
portion of the" world in which you live; edu
cation should depend somewhat upon yourr cir
cumstances and probable future life.
- "There are somo things which a world gov-.-eminent
could do better than national or state
governments. A world government could com
pel peace amongst the nations; but it could not
efficiently prescribe the character of the sewera
to be Installed by the city of Pittsburgh, Pa., or
Des Moines, Iowa. There are some things a
national government can do better than a state
or city government. But we do not want to
leave it to the national government to prescribe
the character of telephone service our crty
shall have. I do not want to leave It to con
gfeJ? t0JGtermin the time I shall retire at
B Th.f ? nro some thinss whch might
well be left to a world government, there are
others which can be cared for better by our
national government, and others by the state
'SE8 nnd Sti" thers by the county d
city, and family. And there are a few matters
that even the individual, himself, can beTper
Ior. strange aa t m? seem to some. '
The real problem is how to secure wise
regulation. Will a'strong centralized I govern
ment bring the best results, or is the federal
plan joining national and state control
-preferable? The' issue concerns tho method 7t
government one of the profound problems ll
- tho basis of all organized human life. ' '
"The tremendous growth of Interstate com.
merce seems to have raised the query amonSt
some of us as to whether separate state SI
ernments are longer needed. The wisdom
local self-government and the federal system It
statecraft Is up for consideration. The qn
born doctrine strikes at the very vitals of n
present system. ur
"There has been a marked tendency to swfn
from ono extreme to the other. At one tlm
tho prevailing sentiment favored independent
states. It was the genius of a Marshall that
created the great public sentiment, later crvV
tallized under the leadership of Lincoln, which
saved our country from' being transformed into
several separate nations. Today the pendulum
is swinging In the other direction. We are
anxiously waiting to seo If there will be other
champions of our federal system, our American
plan of government, men who will have tho
far-sighted vision and the courage to save the
country this time from going to the other ex
treme. The life of our dual system of govern
ment is again at stake. Many of us have lost
sight of its value in the glamour of a new na
tionalism. "Too much 'nationalism' is just as wrong aa
too much 'States' rights.' There is a happy
"It is not this government as one nation, nor
the several states, but the combination in one
federal plan that has rendered such a distinct
contribution to the welfare of humanity. It Is
this federal plan that must be most jealously
guarded. A tendency one way or the othir,
toward centralization or toward decentraliza
tion, is dangerous.
"It must be expected that from time to time
there will be strong men, men who are ambi
tious to leave distinguished'names in history,
who will champion a powerful, centralized gov
ernment in the United States. There always
has been, and there always will be, a dramatic
attraction in the building of great empires
about a central authority; th glory, of power
in a supreme authority interests and awes even
those who are governed. ' ' '
'The strength of nations does not' lie in tho
vastness of the territory under one highly cen
tralized and supremo authority. This truth has
been centuries in the learning.
"That government which hugs closest to the
sober and mature judgment of the people and
keeps in touch with the demands of changing
conditions is the one which best fulfills its
mission, and will live the longest.' The makers
"of government must set as 'their' goal,, not tho
creatidn of an extensive centralized machinery,
but a human organism, "capable of reaching out,
and searching after, and ineeting the demands
of life,".
, .Mr, B.ryan. In this address he calls attention
to the objections, which I desire to emphasize,
and treats them much inore elaborately than I
can in what I have to say to you. All I can do
is to present substantially the same thought in
- my own way.
. Wh'en you take the railroad systems of this
.country, involving, as they do, I think, 1GO,0OO
miles is it not?
JMr. Faulkner. It is over 200,000.
Mr. Esch. Two hundred and fifty thousand.
Mr. Bryan. Mr. Chairman, X will have from
time to time to inquire as to the details, be
cause I am better acquainted with the principles
involved than I am with figures. When you
take the railroad systems, involving the man
agement of some 250,000 miles of railroad, and
collecting earnings amqunting to
Mr. Adamson. It was almost three billion
last year.
'Mr. Bryan. Yes; over three' billions, I think
'- an amount at least twice the revenues of the
federal government.
Mr. Adamson. I beg your pardon, Mr. Chair
man, for interrupting. ' The' witness asked that
question, It was not I.
Mr. Bryan.' I hope that you will help me,
.because I come before you; gentlemen, without
any opportunity to prepare 'such a statement
as I would like to present', and will ,ask per
mission -to make such additions and amplifica
tions as may seem :bes'd when I have more
When you take the management of a system
of railroads with this "amount of '.'mileage and
'collecting mpre than twice)' a's I saj, tne reT"