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When we come to deal with great corporations the need for the Government to act directly is far greater than in the case of labor, because great corporations can become such only by engaging in interstate commerce, and interstate commerce is peculiarly the field of the General Government. It is an absurdity to expect to eliminate the abuses in great corporations by State action. It is difficult to be patient with an argument that such matters should be left to the States, because more than one State pursues the policy of creating on easy terms corporations which are never operated within that State at all, but in other States whose laws they ignore. The National Government alone can deal adequately with these great corporations. To try to deal with them in an intemperate, destructive, or demagogic spirit would, in all probability, mean that nothing whatever would be accomplished, and, with absolute certainty, that if anything were accomplished it would be of a harmful nature. The American people need to continue to show the very qualities that they have shown—that is, moderation, good sense, the earnest desire to avoid doing any damage, and yet the quiet determination to proceed, step by step, without halt and without hurry, in eliminating or at least in minimizing whatever of mischief or of evil there is to interstate commerce in the conduct of great corporations. They are acting in no spirit of hostility to wealth, either individual or corporate. They are not against the rich man any more than against the poor man. On the contrary, they are friendly alike toward rich man and toward poor man, provided only that each acts in a spirit of justice and decency toward his fellows. Great corporations are necessary, and only men of great and singular mental power can manage such corporations successfully, and such men must have great rewards. But these corporations should be managed with due regard to the interest of the public as a whole. Where this can be done under the present laws it must be done. Where these laws come short others should be enacted to supplement them.
Yet we must never forget the determining factor in every kind of work, of head or hand, must be the man's own good sense, courage, and kindliness. More important than any legislation is the gradual growth of a feeling of responsibility and forbearance among capitalists and wage-workers alike; a feeling of respect on the part of each man for the rights of others; a feeling of broad community of interest, not merely of capitalists among themselves, and of wageworkers among themselves, but of capitalists and wage-workers in their relations to each other, and of both in their relations to their
fellows who with them make up the body politic. There are many captains of industry, many labor leaders, who realize this. A recent speech by the president of one of our great railroad systems to the employees of that system contains sound common sense. It runs in part as follows:
"It is my belief we can better serve each other, better understand the man as well as his business, when meeting face to face, exchanging views, and realizing from personal contact we serve but one interest, that of our mutual prosperity.
"Serious misunderstandings can not occur where personal good will exists and opportunity for personal explanation is present.
"In my early business life I had experience with men of affairs. of a character to make me desire to avoid creating a like feeling of resentment to myself and the interests in my charge, should fortune ever place me in authority, and I am solicitous of a measure of confidence on the part of the public and our employees that I shall hope may be warranted by the fairness and good fellowship I intend shall prevail in our relationship.
"But do not feel I am disposed to grant unreasonable requests, spend the money of our company unnecessarily or without value received, nor expect the days of mistakes are disappearing, or that cause for complaint will not continually occur; simply to correct such abuses as may be discovered, to better conditions as fast as reasonably may be expected, constantly striving, with varying success, for that improvement we all desire, to convince you there is a force at work in the right direction, all the time making progress— is the disposition with which I have come among you, asking your good will and encouragement.
"The day has gone by when a corporation can be handled successfully in defiance of the public will, even though that will be unreasonable and wrong. A public may be led, but not driven, and I prefer to go with it and shape or modify, in a measure, its opinion, rather than be swept from my bearings, with loss to myself and the interests in my charge.
“Violent prejudice exists towards corporate activity and capital to-day, much of it founded in reason, more in apprehension, and a large measure is due to the personal traits of arbitrary, unreasonable, incompetent, and offensive men in positions of authority. The accomplishment of results by indirection, the endeavor to thwart the intention, if not the expressed letter of the law (the will of the people), a disregard of the rights of others, a disposition to withhold what is due, to force by main strength or inactivity a result not
justified, depending upon the weakness of the claimant and his indisposition to become involved in litigation, has created a sentiment harmful in the extreme and a disposition to consider anything fair that gives gain to the individual at the expense of the company.
"If corporations are to continue to do the world's work, as they are best fitted to, these qualities in their representatives that have resulted in the present prejudice against them must be relegated to the background. The corporations must come out into the open and see and be seen. They must take the public into their confidence and ask for what they want, and no more, and be prepared to explain satisfactorily what advantage will accrue to the public if they are given their desires; for they are permitted to exist not that they may make money solely, but that they may effectively serve those from whom they derive their power.
"Publicity, and not secrecy, will win hereafter, and laws be construed by their intent and not by their letter, otherwise public utilities will be owned and operated by the public which created them, even though the service be less efficient and the result less satisfactory from a financial standpoint."
The Bureau of Corporations has made careful preliminary investigation of many important corporations. It will make a special report on the beef industry.
The policy of the Bureau is to accomplish the purposes of its creation by cooperation, not antagonism; by making constructive legislation, not destructive prosecution, the immeBureau of diate object of its inquiries; by conservative invesCorporations. tigation of law and fact, and by refusal to issue incomplete and hence necessarily inaccurate reports. Its policy being thus one of open inquiry into, and not attack upon, business, the Bureau has been able to gain not only the confidence, but, better still, the cooperation of men engaged in legitimate business.
The Bureau offers to the Congress the means of getting at the cost of production of our various great staples of commerce.
Of necessity the careful investigation of special corporations will afford the Commissioner knowledge of certain business facts, the publication of which might be an improper infringement of private rights. The method of making public the results of these investigations affords, under the law, a means for the protection of private rights. The Congress will have all facts except such as would give to another corporation information which would injure the legitimate business of a competitor and destroy the incentive for individual superiority and thrift.
The Bureau has also made exhaustive examinations into the legal condition under which corporate business is carried on in the various States; into all judicial decisions on the subject; and into the various systems of corporate taxation in use. I call special attention to the report of the chief of the Bureau; and I earnestly ask that the Congress carefully consider the report and recommendations of the Commissioner on this subject.
The business of insurance vitally affects the great mass of the people of the United States and is national and not local in its application. It involves a multitude of transactions among the people of the different States and between American companies and foreign governments. I urge that the Congress carefully consider whether the power of the Bureau of Corporations can not constitutionally be extended to cover interstate transactions in insurance.
Above all else, we must strive to keep the highways of commerce open to all on equal terms; and to do this it is necessary to put a complete stop to all rebates. Whether the shipper or the railroad is to blame makes no difference; the rebate must be stopped, the abuses of the private car and private terminal-track and side-track systems must be stopped, and the legislation of the Fifty-eighth Congress which declares it to be unlawful for any person or corporation to offer, grant, give, solicit, accept, or receive any rebate, concession, or discrimination in respect of the transportation of any property in interstate or foreign commerce whereby such property shall by any device whatever be transported at a less rate than that named in the tariffs published by the carrier must be enforced. For some time after the enactment of the Act to Regulate Commerce it remained a mooted question whether that act conferred upon the Interstate Commerce Commission the power, after it had found a challenged rate to be unreasonable, to declare what thereafter should, prima facie, be the reasonable maximum rate for the transportation in dispute. The Supreme Court finally resolved that question in the negative, so that as the law now stands the Commission simply possess the bare power to denounce a particular rate as unreasonable. While I am of the opinion that at present it would be undesirable, if it were not impracticable, finally to clothe the Commission with general authority to fix railroad rates, I do believe that, as a fair security to shippers, the Commission should be vested with the power, where a given rate has been challenged and after full hearing found to be unreasonable, to decide, subject to judicial review, what FR 1904 M-~!!
shall be a reasonable rate to take its place; the ruling of the Commission to take effect immediately, and to obtain unless and until it is reversed by the court of review. The Government must in increasing degree supervise and regulate the workings of the railways engaged in interstate commerce; and such increased supervision is the only alternative to an increase of the present evils on the one hand or a still more radical policy on the other. In my judgment the most important legislative act now needed as regards the regulation of corporations is this act to confer on the Interstate Commerce Commission the power to revise rates and regulations, the revised rate to at once go into effect, and to stay in effect unless and until the court of review reverses it.
Steamship companies engaged in interstate commerce and protected in our coastwise trade, should be held to a strict observance of the interstate commerce act.
In pursuing the set plan to make the city of Washington an example to other American municipalities several points should be kept in mind by the legislators. In the first place, the people of this country should clearly understand that no City of Washington. amount of industrial prosperity, and above all no leadership in international industrial competition, can in any way atone for the sapping of the vitality of those who are usually spoken of as the working classes. The farmers, the mechanics, the skilled and unskilled laborers, the small shop keepers, make up the bulk of the population of any country; and upon their well-being, generation after generation, the well-being of the country and the race depends. Rapid development in wealth and industrial leadership is a good thing, but only if it goes hand in hand with improvement, and not deterioration, physical and moral. The overcrowding of cities and the draining of country districts are unhealthy and even dangerous symptoms in our modern life. We should not permit overcrowding in cities. In certain European cities it is provided by law that the population of towns shall not be allowed to exceed a very limited density for a given area, so that the increase in density must be continually pushed back into a broad zone around the center of the town, this zone having great avenues or parks within it. The death-rate statistics show a terrible increase in mortality, and especially in infant mortality, in overcrowded tenements. The poorest families in tenement houses live in one room, and it appears that in these one-room tenements the average death rate for a number of given cities at home and abroad is about twice what it is in a two-room