The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, August 25, 1898, Page 2, Image 2

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    tTbe Conservative.
i ) FOOLS Fifty years of
AND LAWS IJY railroad opcrntion
FOOLS. have developed
four propositions in connection , with
traflic , which nre as yet not well under
stood 1) } * the public at largo , but which
because of the regulative measures im
posed by the public upon the railroads
should be more generally comprehended
in order that such control should be in
telligently directed.
In the first place it may bo stated that
any railroad adequate for the accomoda- ,
tion of the communities through whicli
it passes on its way between terminal
points is , because of that fact , ccmpotont
to handle at a very small additional ex
pense , much more business than can be
furnished by these same communities.
To illustrate : All the facilities fur
nished by the Chicago , Burlington &
Quincy railroad between Chicago and
Omaha are necessary for the proper
handling of the traflic along its line in
cluding Omaha. The same is true of
the Chicago , Milwaukee & St. Paul ,
the Chicago , Hock Island & Pacific , and
the Chicago & Northwestern railways ,
all of which run between Chicago and
Omaha but through different communi
ties en route. The result is that al
though these intermediate communities
have no excess of needed railroad facili
ties , when it comes to Omaha the case'i
is reversed , for any one of the lines
named can with a slight additional ex
pense , accomodate the entire traflic of
that point as well.
This brings us to our second proposi
tion , viz. , that unlike all other commer
cial enterprises , competition between
railroads is the "death" rather than the
"life of trade. " This results from thp-
fact that there is no such tiling as abso
lute cost of transportation , so far as
given quantities are concerned. Like a
merchant , a railroad's percentage of
operating expenses may be reduced by
increasing the volume of trade , but un
like a merchant's , the element of
fixed charges remains constant regard
less of the amount of trade. Again to
illustrate : Marshall Field & Co. , can
double their sales with a very small in
crease of operating expenses but at a
largo increased outlay for the extra
amoxiut of goods sold. The Chicago ,
Burlington & Quincy railroad on the
other hand , can double its traflic with a
correspondingly slight increase of oper
ating expenses , but also with practically
no additional outlay for the extra
amount of the commodity furnished ,
called transportation. To allow compe
tition to enter into such a condition is to
demoralize values , upset calculations ,
and throw the entire mercantile com
munity which is dependent upon rail
roads , into a state of uncertainty. Un
less railroad charges are fixed and stable
no merchant can determine the cost of
his goods or be certain that his competi
tor iii trade has not an unfair advantage
which he is Tillable to overcome. Could
the history of railroad strifes bo written
it would bo found that many of the
commercial disasters which have come
to men , were directly chargeable to ir
regular tariffs and discrimination in
railroad rates.
To overcome this condition the expe
dient known as pooling was devised ,
aud it was found after some years of
trial , that it was an effectual remedy ,
which is our third proposition. The
choice of the word used to describe this
device is unfortunate. It not only
smacks of gambling but fails to convey
a correct idea of what it purports to do.
Popularly it is supposed to represent a
gigantic combination among railroads
under which the proceeds of all railroad
transportation at the highest possible
rate arc thrown together and divided
among the members of a conspiracy who
have joined together to despoil the pee
ple. Actually , so far as it applies to
railroads , the term means that in recog
nition of the fact that the capacity of
the railroads serving a given community
is much in excess of the business of the
community , the railroads have agreed
as to what proportion of such business
each road is equitably entitled , and iu
case any road receives more than its
proper amount it will refund the excess
to the others. These "pooling" agree
ments have nothing whatever to do with
the determination of rates. In and of
themselves they neither reduce nor ad
vance charges. They simply recognize
the right of each road to its proper pro
portion of the traffic and provide a
means whereby it may be secured with
out strife or the disturbing of values.
Because of the public misapprehension
of pooling , it was enacted when the in
terstate law was passed that pooling
should bo prohibited. The law recog
nized the evils of discrimination and
legislated against it , but through the
misapprehension referred to , it removed
the only means whereby discrimination
could bo prevented. This is evidenced
b"y the fact that during the past ten
years the railroads have tried every
means within their power to avoid dis
crimination and yet comply with the
law , but at no time have they been suc
cessful. The placing on the statute
boolts of a law which prohibits the recog
nition of the right to divide traffic , in
the face of an existing condition which
necessitates the division of traffic , is not
only illogical but inoperative. So long
as two or more railroads operate between
common points , so long will traffic bo
divided , and if discrimination is to be
removed and shippers given equal rights ,
some arrangement for an agreed division
of such traffic is a necessity. This is all
that is meant by pooling , and the sooner
the American public and through them
their congress recognize tin's necessity
the better it will be for all concerned.
Eailroads and pools , and laws by fools
who attempt to do everything by a "be-
it-onacted , " should receive the candid
.ind studious consideration of thought
ful and patriotic citizens ; and after that ,
ensiblo legislation doing justice to
railroads , or , at least repealing all unjust -
just and inoperative laws would logi
cally follow.
THK WKAI , OF Whistling boys
Tin : . .
WIIISTI.KS. nnd whistling men
liave long been ranked as thoughtless ,
listless and indolent , while whistling
jirls and crowing hens have always been
consigned to perdition. But the whistles
of individuals are indicators of an alto
gether different condition of energy and
success than that proclaimed by the
aggregation of whistles which each
morning awake the industries of a pros
perous and sturdily growing town. The
more steam whistles there arc blowing
from the right sort of manufacturing
plants on the west bank of the Missouri
river the better for farmers who can fur
nish thorn raw products to make into
commodities. And the consumer in the
East will pay no transportation on refuse.
Whistles indicate that the Nebraska
town where they do their shrieking is
sensibly engaged in reducing raw pro
ducts to finished goods compacting
bulks and enhancing values.
EI > AVAKI > ATKIN- The Boston
SON'S VIEWS. Transcript of Sat
urday , August G , contains an exhaustive
and instructive article by Edward At
kinson on the reorganization of the
fiscal policy of the government of the
United States.
Mr. Atkinson thinks that stamp taxes
have come to stay and that customs
duties will be made adjustable to com
mercial conditions , changes aud vicissi
tudes. Mr. Atkinson draws a parallel
between trade conditions in England
during 1840 and those existing in our
own country in 1898. Then it was that
Peel very radically changed England's
policy in regard to trade with foreign
nations and there is now need of a sim
ilar change in the United States.
Mr. Atkinson further remarks :
The old fallacy that low wages are
either necessary to a low cost of produc
tion or are synonymous with a low cost
of production has given place to the
true conception , namely , that our high
rates of wages arc derived from our low
cost of labor. The factors which make
the rate of wages are ,
First , the natural resources of the
Second , the relative burden of taxa
Third , the intelligence , skill aud effec
tiveness of the labor.
And fourth , the perfection of the
In respect to natural resources the
United States is the only nation which
produces within its own area an excess
of food , fuel , metal and fibre. All other