The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, February 21, 1901, 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 investiga-
POLITICAL EVIL tion , instituted by
INCORPORATIONS ; the legislature of
Nebraska , to in
quire into the attempts alleged to have
been made to "hold up" corporations by
threatening them with , unjust statutory
requirements , cannot be too strongly
commended. The charge has frequently
been made that large corporations often
seek to influence state legislatures and
the decision of courts. The time is op
portune to inquire into the truth of these
charges and seek to locate the respon
sibility for the alleged corruption ; to
ascertain whether the corporations pay
money to secure legislation favorable to
their interests or use money to prevent
legislation , admittedly oppressive and
unjust , and originated for the express
purpose of obtaining a price for its with
drawal. The latter practice has been
not infrequent in legislative bodies.
In addition to this Professor Jenks of
Cornell university in his discussion of
the "trust prob-
Why Paid ? . lem , " suggests an
other method fre
quently practiced to obtain money from
corporations. He says :
"It seems to be true at times
that a bill which may be en
tirely proper and even beneficial to the
public in its nature , but which also
favors particularly the interests of some
of the larger corporations , may be op
posed by the party leaders or by indi
vidual representatives , until an amount
of money has been paid either to party
managers or to enough individual mem
bers of the legislature to secure the
passage of the bill. Not long since a
bill which was said to be entirely in the
public interest , as well as in that of the
large corporations , could be passed in
the legislature of one of our larger
states , it was reported , only by the pay
ment of $150,000 to the leader of the
party in power. Some of the larger
corporations , business men say-expect
to set aside for such uses a considerable
sum to be charged to business expenses.
But if we grant that corruption of
the legislatures and even of the courts
on the part of the
Who is Responsible ? large corporations
is not infrequent ,
does it follow that the corporations
should themselves be destroyed , or that
they are , chiefly to blame ? The fault
seems to be rather with the legislatures
and the character of the men whom we ,
the public , send to them , or with our
ethical and social standards , than with
corporations as such. If the combina
tions have good features about them , it
would certainly be unwise to attempt to
destroy them because our legislators
were dishonorable men. A much wiser
as well as a much more certain and prob
ably an equally practical measure , would
be to endeavor in some way to improve
the character of our legislators by better
methods of election , or by general edu
cation , or to lessen , the opportturiies ,
through rules of our- legislatures or
otherwise , of those who , are , unsorupu-
lous enough either to blackmail a woll-
meuning corporation , or to take dis
honest pay from a dishonorable corpora
tion. That the political evil exists is
beyond question. That its cause is
mainly the trust and its only remedy
the destruction.of the trust by no means
follows , although that seems to be a
normal presumption by very many. "
Professor Jeuk's conclusion is sound
and logical. \ The responsibility and
blame for the cor-
Dishonest Officials , ruption belongs
primarily with
those who act as public agents.
All corporations and industrial com
binations must not bo condemned be
cause some of them use improper means
to further their interests any more tlian
all individuals should share in the
opprobrium belonging to the few who are
dishonest ? Nor should these combina
tions be abolished because of the dis
honesty of some legislators. Corpor
ations and individuals who deal with
the public must act in accord with the
methods and regulations which the pub
lic , through its agents , may require.
The state now buys text books for the
children in the public schools. If , as
sometimes happens , those whom the
people elect to make these purchases ,
before buying desirable school books ,
insist upon a financial consideration
for themselves from the publishers ,
must we condemn the publisher and
destroy his books ? Ought we not rather
denounce those who demanded and in
sisted upon the dishonest consideration ?
If county commissioners should demand
a personal compensation of bridge com
panies before letting the contract for the
building of bridges , ought the property
of the bridge company to be confiscated ?
The offense of the book company and
the bridge company is in a measure ex
tenuated , in that it is their business to
sell goods rather than impart instruction
in ethics to county or state officers. In
dealing with the public they only con
form to the ethical standard of the pub
lic , and if this standard be somewhat
below par and the people elect to have
steals in bridge-building or book-buying ,
by choosing dishonest officials or agents ,
how can any part of the blame attach to
the book or bridge concerns ? The re
sponsibility is indirectly the people's and
directly their agents' , and the punish
ment should be meted out to the dis
honest officials rather than to the victim
ized corporations.
As it is in buying school books and
building bridges , so it is in lawmaking.
Nothing could be
Not Compulsory , more illogical
than for people to
complain of the political evils of corpora
tions which exist , if at all , only because
of the dishonesty of the men whom the
same people have chosen to represent
them. Corporations , even if they so
desire , have no way of compelling ob-
. Btinate public servants to yield to un
worthy induoemouts. Neither legisla
tors nor judges could bo corrupted if-
they wore not willing to bo corrupted.
Honest men do not hold up honest
corporations , nor can they be bought by
dishonest ones. Why , then , should men ,
who are honest , bo afraid of being
bought by corporations ? Or why should ,
people , if they select honest men to-
represent them , bo alarmed lest some
body buy them ? And if they do not
select honest men whose fault is it ?
These charges of political evil on the
part of corporations reflect not so much
upon corporations as they condemn our
public servants. The remedy for these
evils is quite simple. A higher standard
of honesty and integrity on the part of
public servants would make impossible ,
political corruption by corporations.
Demagogues and political panderers
preach hatred and malice toward all
corporations ,
Demagogues. wealth producers ,
and wage payers.
To denounce and damn corporate
interests has become an easy and.
and not infrequent way for men of
mediocre intellects and moderate morals
to attain political prominence and in
fluence. The dishonest teachings of
such men have created an tinreasonable
and unwarranted prejudice , on the part
of many well-meaning people , to proper
ty in corporate form. It is not strange.
that dishonest and unscrupulous men.
should profit'by this feeling and , posing.
as public benefactors , "hold up" and.
extort money from corporations. The
public conscience , needs to be educated ,
into the proper appreciation of corporate
rights and made to understand that ,
property in this form should be held as
sacred and as much entitled to the
protection of the law as when owned by
an individual. A denial of these rights
to corporations is as dishonorable and
dishonest as to steal from an individual
or to disregard individual property
The repeal by the legislature of all
corporate legislation , founded upon pre
judice rather than reason , and the
punishment of hold-up statesmen and
lobbyists would materially aid the
development of a more just and rational „ ,
sentiment toward corporate capital.
The chronology
TROUBADOUR , of high-tariff pro
tectionists is very'
generally imperfect. But no deliverer
of sophisms and sounding nothingness
is more gifted in the arb of misinform
ation and malohronology than our
esteemed and admired troubadour , the
Hon. John Mellifluence Thnrston. This
distinguished statesman , poet and poser , '
in a recent torrential af ter-dinner downpour - " *
pour of words , attributed the panic of -
1898 to the repeal of thoMcKinley tariff *
in 1894. ' "Oh Rose ! White Rose ! Will'1
you lie ? " - '