« ПретходнаНастави »
over-production on the one hand or of starvation on the other.
I can think of nothing that would do so much to bring about this happy state of things as the extension of the sphere of the Post-office over the general business of public transportation. But of all the benefits that will accompany the new régime, the greatest perhaps is this : it will at once deprive our railway corporations of their power to do evil, and will make them public servants, dependent for their corporate existence upon their performance of their public duties to the public satisfaction. The consolidation of railway systems must, I believe, continue until all our post-roads are both owned and managed by the National Government. The movement must, however, proceed step by step ; first one road or system must be taken by the government and then another. If, in the meantime, the New York Central or the Pennsylvania gradually widens the sphere of its operations until the one absorbs the other, the result will only be for the public benefit. Let the government once assume its legitimate function of determining, collecting, and distributing transportation taxes and there will be comparatively little trouble in solving the rest of the railroad problem.
Take from the railway manager his imperial power of giving passes and granting rebates ; his power to discriminate between individuals and between places ; subject him to the terms of a traffic contract drawn up between himself and the National Government, and he will no longer be able to corrupt legislatures and bulldoze private citizens ; he will no longer be able to build up one city and ruin another. Under the new conditions, every consolidation would be for the public good as well as for the advantage of the railroads. These consolidations would lessen railway expenses and increase business facilities. Government patronage, it is true, would somewhat increase under the new régime, but it would not increase anything like so much as railroad patronage would diminish. The patronage of such a ruler as President Roberts of the Pennsylvania Railroad with his 100,000 subordinates is, I submit, an infinitely greater danger to both our industrial and political liberties than is or ever can be the patronage of the President of the United States. Hundreds of ticket agents and freight agents would be relieved of their present unpleasant duties as deputy collectors of transportation taxes for private railroad corporations. The remainder would serve as public servants, collecting a tax so low and so simple that their work would be a pleasure instead of a disagreeable burden.
The postmen on the trains would be able, in many cases, to attend to the baggage and parcels business. Many of the country stations would become post-offices, the postmaster being, at the same time, the freight and express agent. This would effect a large saving of moneys now paid for the carriage of the mails to post-offices, and would
facilitate the plan for the free distribution and collection of mail matter in country districts.
“The highways of nations are the measure of their civilization. Without roads there can be no society, government, commerce, or intelligence. In exact proportion to the abundance and excellence of highways (and in exact proportion to the cost of transportation on those highways) are the exchanges of services between men, the communication of thought, the augmentation of wealth, the growth of comfort, the development and the consolidation of the civilized state.
“From a polyp up to man the increasing perfection of the circulating system marks the increasing activity of life, the more perfect interdependence of the various parts of the organization, a wider range of sympathies, and an increasing ability to dominate natural surroundings. From the savage who lives without any interest in the rest of the world, confined to his own horde, and wandering through the trackless forests, up to the present condition of society, with its iron roads, like arteries carrying the material for social life where it is called for, and with its telegraphs and telephones extending like a network of nerves, bearing prompt intelligence to the centres of all that affects the parts, the history of the increasing perfection of the means of transportation and
Report of the U. S. Committee on Pacific Railways, made Feb. 19, 1869.
of communication, is the history of all human advancement." 1
The extension of the sphere of the Post-office to cover the entire business of public transportation, and the application of the cost of service principle to the determination of rates is surely the next great step in this advancement.
1 Westminster Review (slightly changed), Jan., 1871.
THE UNITED RAILWAYS OF AMERICA
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
SINCE mankind were first welded into nations, the Highway has always been the symbol of Government and THE OWNER OF THE HIGHWAY HAS BEEN THE GOVERNMENT. This was true of the ancient Oriental Empires; it was pre-eminently true of the Roman Empire. Some incidental advantages may have accrued to the Roman subject from the Roman Road, but its primary purpose was to facilitate the movements of the Emperor's troops and of the tribute exacted by those troops from the Emperor's subjects. “To the Oriental mind," says Trumbull, “a Road, the King's Highway, included the idea of a kingdom planned and a kingdom controlled. Again, it included the idea of a Personal Sovereign, of a Sovereign whose Plan is back of the Highway and whose Purpose is before it. In the earliest empire in history, the symbol of Royal Greatness was Royal Road-Building. The ancient Oriental idea of a road, an idea