The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, January 01, 1920, Page 3, Image 3

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

The Commonei?
JANUABT, 1920 ;
An Industrial Peace Plan
would bo in such demand for permanent public
The fact that the United States lias given to
the world a peace plan embodied in thirty
atios with governments representing threo
nlrtcrs of the population of the:- world and in
Z covenant of the-league of nations (described
hvtho president as "the heart of the covenant")
makes it worth while to consider whether
the plan may not be employed for the settlement N
0f industrial disputes. I venture to add, if I
may be pardoned, that I advocated the plan as
"means of settling industrial disputes some
fifteen years ago, before I thought of applying
It to International controversies. .
In all disputes there are three factors that
enter into the selection of a remedy: .First,
the disposition of the parties; se&md, the
recoKnition of the need for a remedy; and third,
the machinery through which th,e desire for a
remedy can find effective expression.
We may assume the existence of a desire,
practically universal, for the peaceful settle
ment of all disputes between labor arfd -capital.
Even in international affairs, there is no doubt
that a large majority of the people of all civil
ized nations oppose war except as a last resort.
They prefer peaceful means to the arbitrament
of war, but it is difflcult for the popular will
to find expression. v
Secret diplomacy has concealed the earlier
stages of international controversies so that
the people relied upon to do the fighting have
been kept in ignorance' until a sudden call to
arms paralyzed the peace sentiment and sub
jected those who protested to the charge of
treason. Then, too, long-standing, race prej
udices, prejudices betwoejouations, tind
Bometimes, religidus prejudices, have made
it easy for militarists to inflame the pas
sions that developed local clashes into
armed conflicts. Manufacturers " who make.
fortunes out of war contracts are quick
to take advantage of the ignorance of the peo
ple and of popular passions, and their profits
aro so large that they can, when they find it
necessary, control such newspapers as are pur
chasable. To these disadvantages under which
the masses labor may be added the undemo
cratic character of many governments and the
political influence of the military parties.
The hope of universal peace rests upon the
progress now being made along all the lines
above mentioned. Secret diplomacy, or at least
tbe secret treaty, is abolished by the league of
nations; prejudice will decrease as general in
telligence increases and as a reduction of arma
ments lessens tbe force of the appeals made
by militarists and manufacturers of 'munitions,
while the growth of democracy constantly in
creases the relative influence of the average man
in his government. And possibly the great
est change of all is the appearance of woman
m the arena of politics, with her attachment
for the home to inspire her to combat war, the
enemy of her home. -
The league of nations is launched upon the
world at a most auspicious time. The late
war, surpassing all previous conflicts in its
cost, whether ' measured by blood, by expond
ture of money, or by the mortgage that it lays
"Pon the toil of future- generations, has con
vinced the world that something must be done.
xae people everywhere are calling for machin
ery through which' the desire for peace may
una expression.
. .
The leaguq r .nations furnishes the machin
ery, and, fortunately, the leading nations had
"Jen prepared for the plan by their recent" agree
ments with the United States providing for ln
oh!l ition a11 disputes of every kind and
naracter before a roBort to -war. "Whatever
Zjerences may exist as to the details of the
covenant, a league of nations, established for
"w purpose of settling all international disputes
the f tefUl mean8 is one the cortaInties of
Likewise, in' tliA mnffor nf Industrial 'dis-
thft ! .me, we may 'assume, I repeat, that
"Q sentiment is practically unanimous in favor
is an attempt at compulsion; one geeks to force
the employor to terms by shutting off the lahor
supply and the other attempts to force em
ployes to terms by withdrawing the opportu
nity of earning a livelihood.
Neither can be regarded as desirable, even by
the side that employs 'it; it is in tho naturo of
a last resort and is only employed when argu
ment falls. And, oven if tho strlko and tho
lockout, were desired by oithor party to tho dis
pute, or by both parties, what of tho third
party tho public? No strike can DIRECTLY
affect any large percentage of the. people, but
the indirect effect may reach every one.
Take three strikes as illustrations. The coal
strike, which threatened to paralyze a groat
basic industry and shut off tho supply of fuel
at tho beginning of winter, directly concerned
a few thousand mine owners and something liko
a half million mine workers, but it indirectly
reached the firesides of a hundred millions of
people and tho furnaces that furnish power for
all our factories. The steel strike, with a
comparatively few stockholders and few hun
dred thousand employes, ha's partially paralyzod
many branches of industry and indirectly laid
tribute upon a multitude of homes.
At one time a railway strike seemed possible;
that Would have immediately touched the
pocket nerve of capitalists who control twenty
billions of railway stocks (partly water) and
railroad bonds, and would have suspended the
earning capacity of nearly two million persons,
but it would have greatly inconvenienced near
ly fifty times as many who patronize tho rail
roads. The public, like tho innocent bystander,
gets hurt, even though the actual combatants
are few in number in proportion to tho entire
population. A whole nation desires peace in
industry, and the recent strikes and rumors of
strikes have directed public attention to a great
need, made apparent by society's helplessness,
Now is the opportune time to consider an
industrial peace plan. The harvest is ripe, the
reapers are waiting; machinery is tho need of
the hour. The peace plan, that has made re
mote the possibility of war between us and the
.contracting nations and now promises to hasten
the coming of universal and perpetual peace
throughout the world, would seem to offer tho
easiest means of settling labor disputes before
they reach the strike or lockout stage. Tho
plan is simple; it provides for a public investi
gation before resort to any attempt at compul
sion on the part of either capital or labor.
Compulsory arbitration does not meet our In
dustrial needs any moro than it does our inter
national needs. Before we adopted the plan
providing for investigating all international dis
putes we relied for security on our arbitral on
treaties, twenty-six in number, which provided
for .the arbitration of minor questions; but these
treaties specifically excluded from arbitration
questions of honor and independence, vital in
terests and sthe interests of third ParUes-the
very questions out of which wars grow. The
neae plan upon -which we now rely closes tho
gap and leaves no dispute out of which a war
fan grow until after a period of nvestigation
sufficient in length to permit passions to sub
side and questions of fact to be separated from
questions of honor.
9n in industrial controversies, we cannot com
J i emnloyerB to pay wages that will bo de
structive of their business, neither can wo com
S5 ?e earners to work for Insufficient pay
V Z one would be confiscation and the other
slavery Ana , in the arbitration of industrial
5f mute's it is really a gamble upon the bias of
flo one man who decides the controversy; Ar-
im, v SmnarUal in such matters, everything
& on with side secures tne umpire.
, Tinf there are some who will
' "S S every man OUGHT to be impartial
contend that every umi sometimes Im-
contend that every man uu B0mQtlme3 ira-
but that which SHOULD uu i ugo
nmnnrv ratner uinu c , nn f ffn,i npr.
nf . .o jiav;uv;uiiy uuhujiuumo i ..- m,0.-- ,,,. wo cannot bah out. w
Th ?J!QRcef ul .sottlexnonl of such controversies. material have, we Qf arbltrators.
CuiJ?8 uand the loclut are, in, he field of feet men when we are i country they
"Wustry what war i hAfwri nations.- Each If we had any perrect
emtio mat tuoy could not bo spared for- the
occasional work of preventing strikos.
But, whllo compulsory ARBITRATION Is.aa
impossible as it is undesirable, compulsory 1X-
VIDSTIGATION Is not only defensible, but mw
objoctlonablo. Public opinion iatho final a
biter In all matters In a govornmont like ours
that is, public opinion intelligently formed upon
all tho facts involved; and how can the public
form an intelligent opinion until it is in pos
session of tho facts?
Tho tlinehas passed whon oithor side to a
great Industrial controversy can demand judg
ment on a one-sided statement of tho differences
However convinced it may ho of tho JiiBtnoflB .
of its cause, neither sldo ran foreclose discus
sion and demand an immedlato verdict In Us
favor. While ovory ono has a general bias on
ono side or tho other, tho groat majority of
partisans aro open to conviction and doslro to
hear both sides boforo tho jury is polled,
Tho poaco plan proposod 'mcots all tho objec
tions that can be raised to compulsory arbitra
tion, provides for tho fullest investigation, and
assures representation to both sides. Tho com
mission contemplated by tho plan should be a
permanent board of, say, threo members; two
should represent, tho two classes,, employers and
employes, and tho romalning mombor should
bo so disconnected from tho two classes as to re
duce his bias to a minimum. Ho should bo
free from business or social obligations to cither
side, so that ho can repruaont tho public rather
than the parties to the dispute,
Tho commission should be empowered to in
vestigate upon tho request of oithor party, and
should have authority to act on Its own Initiative
in case tho feeling on both sides should restrain
tho parties from making a request, and it
should have amplo power to call witnesses and
compel tho submission of papers, books, etc.,
bearing on tho case. In each case investigated
two members should bo added to the board,
one chosen by each side, to servo during ;th,e
investigation, with authority equal to tho perma
nent members and with equal prorata compen
sation. This would Insure a minority report If tho
investigation resulted in a disagreement, and
each party to tho dispute would have Its sldo
fully presented. As tho report would not bo
legally binding upon either side, but rost upon
its merits, tho members of the commission would
lie even more apt to strive for equal and ex
act justice than they would if, by their find
ings, they could settle tho question on the sldo
to which they lean.
With such a tribunal always ready to act,
the parties to the controversy could bo re
strained from strlko or lockout for a reason
able time, whilo tho commission is investigating
just as under the peace plan tho contracting
nations agree not to resort to war until after
Public opinion would support tho majority
report and thus compel a settlement in accord
ance therewith, unless tho reasons given by
the minority members appealed more strongly
to the judgment of the public. Tho creation of
such a tribunal would not only furnish tho ma-'
chinery necessary and prevent strikes and lock
outs in nearly every case, but tho very exist
ence of such a tribunal would tend to restore
harmony between tho two classes, Just as an
anticipated strike or lockout tends to create dis
cord. , -
Such a' tribunal, based upon fair principle
and giving equal consideration to tho claims'
of both sides, would also tend to cultivate con
fidence in the government and a respect for
law, while it would, on the other hand, silence
those who seek a pretext for declaiming against
organized government.
I submit tho plan (It can be used by states
and by communities as well as by the nation)'
in the belief that it will contribute towards the
end which all good citizens have in view, namely
tho proper use of a people's government for tho
protection of tho rights of each citizen and tho
promotion of the welfare of all.
1 W. J. BRYAN.
Eleven million dollars is to bo spent in mak
ing good roads in Nebraska during the next
three .years, but it is strongly suspected ,that it
will take much more than that to make . the.
running good' for 'republicans of that state. -
r '
Ft v