« PreviousContinue »
all feel the way we did when we came here about this question; generally that is the case. I do not think the arguments of private ownership advocates are generally fair; of course they mean them to be, but they are not. For instance, we are informed this afternoon that there are great evils down at the Stock Yards, and our theaters do not have fire escapes, and our hotels do not. I do not wonder the gentleman could not tell which side the speaker was on after such an argument as that. Our Stock Yards are private institutions; our hotels are all private institutions; whatever evils are connected with them are connected with the management of these affairs, private institutions. It can not be expected that an inspector can manage the business of private institutions as the private institutions would manage their own business, and there are always evils l'esulting from public management of private business.
Now, the world has always thought that there was one way to get good service and cheap rates, and that was through competition, and if competition would work it would result in it. But we all know there is no competition. It has been pointed out this afternoon that there is no competition in street car lines, no competition in gas, no competition in telephones. There is a monopoly in railroads; there are a dozen lines between here and New York; there are two rates and they fix them themselves. It does not make any difference what road you go on, it is all arranged. Only poor people ever compete; rich people know better--that is the way they get rich. It is generally admitted, and has been admitted this afternoon, that the public should control these public service corporations, and when that is admitted the whole argument is admitted. If the services of the public are required to carry on certain business, the public should control it, and it is perfectly plain that they can control it better if they own it; that they can not control it any other way except in the most unsatisfactory manner.
We see our Interstate Commerce Commission that is harassed with all sorts of business, and never accomplishes much
of anything—they do accomplish something, probably—we get along better than if there was no such Commission--but they are hampered and badgered at every turn. If we had public ownership of railroads that kind of a question would be settled. We are informed also: Look at our public buildings, how long they take to build them and how much graft is in them. Now is it correct? Do you suppose there was ever a public building constructed in the United States that had the graft there was in the Union Pacific or the Northern Pacific, or almost any private railroad that was ever built in the United States ? It is nothing but graft from beginning to end. The fact that all of these great corporations get from the public, and issue in the shape of bonds once or twice or three times the amount of all the money they plit into them, then put their stock on top of that and the whole thing is a system of graft from beginning to end. in which a fe:v men get rich, and there is no way of shaking them up. Great fortunes have been built up in that way in all lines.
And as an inducement to enterprise, to have these public corporations,- how many men are there in the United States that ever expect to own a railroad, or any considerable interest in a railroad? The fact is that the men engaged in individual business must have public ownership of these utilities in order that they may carry on their individual business. The merchant out here can not compete with some other merchant who gets his thousands of dollars in rebates, and he never can compete until the public manages these institutions itself and owns and operates them. It is necessary for individual enterprise that all of these public institutionis should be managed, owned and operated by the public. The gentleman who spoke last made a suggestion that has often been used, and it seems to me there are dangers in that also, and yet it might be a good compromise if the city were to construct the street cars, construct its telephones, water works, and then lease them all. Of course the man who gets the lease would have the same chance to give poor
service and get big profits, if he were left alone, as he would have if he simply leased the streets or got the streets. It is probably inipossible to get a business managed for public service to give the best service possible, at the lowest rates possible, unless the public does it, and that the public can do it seems to me plain enough.
Comparisons between America and foreign countries do not count. Of course it is common for the people to stand up and boast that this is the greatest country on the face of the earth and we are the most intelligent people on earth; that is all moonshine. There is not a people on earth that do not do the same thing, even down to the most ignorant Hottentot. We have any amount of things to learn from England, Germany and France; and in all civic life many of their affairs—most of them—are ahead of ours, and we have been floating along, doing the best
Patriotism is about the cheapest sentiment people ever indulge in, anyhow. Whatever will work there will work here. Whatever will not work there will not work here. Some people might think it an advantage to run street railroads that would kill a great many people over the country, that took no care of life or limb. A difference in the methods of the people, that is all. There are in England street car lines owned by private companies and street car lines owned by the public, and they operate the same way. They do not run their cars as fast as we do, but they do provide that each passenger shall have a seat, and they do provide comfort, whether owned by the public or private parties. There are railroads owned by the public and by private parties, and practically they operate alike. There are many places in Europe where they run both street cars and steam cars as fast or faster than they do in the United States.
As I have said in this paper, it is a question of logic--that is all there is in it. If there are businesses that are natural monopolies, they require the aid of the state, and where competition cannot regulate prices, then the public must interfere, or it is lost. If you allowed private individuals to take the
streets they would indirectly own the people whose houses and property abut on the streets. If you allowed private individuals to run street car lines and made no regulation as to rates of fare, life would be intolerable. It is a public business, and can not be regulated by competition, and whenever a business comes to that point that it can not be regulated by competition, then it is a public business and it can be managed cheaper and easier by the public than to have the public regulate it, for regulation is always unsatisfactory.
Of course much that has been said about public graft is true; however, if it is true about public graft it is true about private yraft, and it everywhere abounds, especially in great industries. But, as I said in the beginning, that is no reflection upon the system; it is a reflection upon our official life, upon cur methods, upon the doctrine that to the victor belongs the spoils; upon the theory that if a man yets elected Treasurer or President he has got a right to take his friends and give them a job at the public expense.
Now, it has been well stated here that whatever has been stated against public ownership or operation of these public corporations could be said against carrying the mail; could be said against every business function that is carried on by the states in their collective capacity. Once they carried the mails by individuals. I undertake to say that if it were submitted to the vote of the United States there would not be one man in a thousand--not certainly one man in hundred--who would vote to return to the old system.
If public ownership of water works was adopted in this town, which is not the best governed city on earth and perhaps one of the worst, if it were adopted in this town I undertake to say there is not one out of ten who would ever dream of turning back the water works to a private corporation; let them charge what they see fit; we would be pretty saving of water if that was the case, and yet we hesitate to take the step, even though the logic is perfectly clear. But the course of the world is for
public ownership--public control and public ownership; it was true in Germany and France and England, it is just as true now, and I contend that the logic of the case is that way, and if so the facts must in the end fit themselves to the logic of the case. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT PAGE: Before passing to the report of the Cominittee on Grievances
MR. ORENDORFF: I would like to make a motion that the thanks of this Association be tendered to Mr. Darrow and to Mr. Hunter for their able papers, and request that they be presented for publication.
The motion was seconded and carried.
PRESIDENT PAGE: What I wanted to say, before any of the members leave, is that the program for tomorrow is quite full of very interesting matter: the paper from Mr. Hagerman, who delivers the annual address; the discussion of the Primary Law by Mr. Daugherty; the Municipal Courts of Chicago by Mr. Meurdy, as well as the reports, will be matters which ought to be heard by every member of this Association, and I want to beg you to remember to be here on time and give Mr. Hagerman and the other gentlemen the audience which the importance of the topics deserves. We will have the report of the Committee on Grievances.
Report presented as follows: To the Illinois State Bar Association:
I beg to submit herewith report of the Committee of the Association on Grievances.
Your Committee would report that but one complaint was filed with the Committee for their action. The complainant failed to push the case and your Committee was thus relieved of further action in the matter. The Honorable Secretary of the Association called our attention to an alleged violation of professional duty by an Attorney, but we refrained from interfering as the matter is before the Courts. These are the only cases which we have had called to our notice. The cases of offenders in Cricago have been ably cared for by the Chicago Bar Association and we commend that body for its efficiency.
We believe hat it better equipped to deal with its local affairs than the Grievance Committee of this Association.
M. J. DAUGHERTY, Chairman.