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terests, and with unrestricted private ownership the streets, railroads, street cars and the like would be operated and used not to serve the public welfare, but purely to create monopoly not only of public service but of private enterprise as well. Given the power of absolutely fixing the rates upon the railroads of the United States, given the power of taking or receiving freight or passengers according to the owner's will, and it would be left in the hands of the owners to build up and destroy cities, towns and industries of all kinds, and to completely monopolize all the means of existence.

From public control to public ownership is a shorter step than the one which the world has already taken from private ownership to public control. If the State were individual and governed by the ordinary business rules, it would need no argument to convince reasonable people that it would be easier for the State to own its own business than to control the business of someone else.

The question of public ownership is primarily a question of reason and logic. In this matter statistics are worthless. Endless rows of figures can be produced to prove that public ownership is a success or a failure. Figures have nothing to do with the case. If, on principle and logic, public ownership conduces to the general welfare, then public ownership is inevitable when the proper time shall have come. To say that governments are imperfect, that graft abounds, that presidents and governors and mayors are inefficient or corrupt, has nothing to do with settling the correct principle as to what is properly a part of collective life and what should remain within the province of individual enterprise.

Public ownership of public service corporations is inevitable for the reason that public service corporations cannot exist without the power of the State. It is inevitable because the public control of private corporations creates constant conflict between the State and private individuals and corporations,

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tends to fraud and waste and incompetence, and must always be imperfect and incomplete.

Public ownership must always be superior to private own. ership because the State is always stronger than the individual, no matter how weak or how impotent the State may be. No private bonds ever sell as readily as public bonds. Money to construct public service corporations can be borrowed by a nation, state or city at lower rates of interest than it can be obtained by private corporations, and this necessarily gives the advantage of cheaper service to industries managed by the state or agents of the state.

However corrupt our governments, our states or our cities, still every private corporation is dependent upon these bodies, and the corruption that would destroy cities must likewise destroy the wealth of the private corporations which derive their income from these cities; and the bonds based upon cities or other collective bodies will ver be more secure and desirable than the bonds issued by individuals whose resources must still be drawn from the individual units of municipal bodies. Assuming the same business management for the state or the city as obtains from the private corporation, the rate of interest alone would lessen the cost of public service when performed by the public over public service performed for private profit.

The use of public property, the ease of acquiring property by the state or by the city, the interest of the whole people in the proper management of the municipal corporation-all these tend to increase the advantage of business operated by municipalities and states over business operated by private enterprise.

One of the first duties of the state is to require that these public services be given equally to all its people. This never has been done by private corporations. It has never been done by either nation, state or city by publicly regulated private interests. It can never be completely done except by corporations owned and operated by the people themselves.

Neither in transportation, lighting or heating has there


even been an equal rate given to all citizens. These unequal rates have always tended to build up the strong at the expense of the weak. From the giving of a pass to politicians or large jobbers to furnishing electric power at cheap rates to large plants and exorbitant rates to small ones, the whole course of private service for public purposes has been one of extortion, monopoly and inequality amongst the various members of the state. It has been one of the chief sources of creating differences in wealth and power and the predominating evil in all the corruption of the age.

Modern life is entirely dependent upon public service. No one can imagine the state of civilization that would exist if the railroads, the street cars, the gas companies and other public service corporations should be destroyed. Not only the comfort and convenience of the people depends upon them, but their business activities as well. The farmer who must ship his grain to market, the merchant who must transport his goods from city to city, the workman who must use the street cars to get to his place of labor, the small and large manufacturer who depends upon electrical plants to furnish power to his factories, and the merchant who uses gas and electricity to light his stores; all these with their complex activities are dependent entirely upon public service.

It is of great importance that each one of these individuals should be dealt with in exactly the same manner as his neighbor. It is likewise of almost the same importance that each one shall receive these necessary services which enter not only into their comfort, but their means of living, at the smallest possible price.

It is the business of private service to manage its affairs to make money, to create monopoly where monopoly pays; always to get the highest possible price that the service permits. It is their business to perform no service that does not properly pay, to make no experiments in untried territory, but to get the most from what they have. It is the object of public service cor


porations to give the best service they can; to perform this at the cheapest rate; to treat all citizens alike.

Private service is carried on for the benefit of the owner, and public service for the benefit of the community. There is no doubt but what public service is full of graft. This is especially true in American cities, where mayors, aldermen, in fact most officials are elected because of their political pulls, their pleasing manners or the needs of party machines, and with no regard for their fitness for important business affairs.

But while public affairs are honeycombed with graft, private ownership of public service corporations is nearly all graft. It would be a moderate estimate to say that the railroads of the United States are stocked and bonded for four times their cost, that the great business combinations are stocked and bonded for six to eight times their cost, that the street railways, gas plants, electric lighting plants and other similar public service corporations are stocked and bonded for four times their cost. In addition to this, promoters, favored officials and the like receive high salaries from all these quasipublic enterprises. It is only the common workman who is obliged to labor for small wages to help make up the extravagance of salaried officials and the outrageous watering of stocks and bonds. All this burden in the end rests upon the public who consume. The publicly managed water works may squander a quarter of their income, but the privately managed public service corporations draw revenues from the people to allow them to pay dividends upon stocks and bonds for four times the amount of money invested and in addition to this pay unconscionable salaries to promoters and favored officials. Wasteful and extravagant as public management has been in the United States, there could be no waste or extravagance that could compare with the tribute that is taken from the people and paid to the promoter, the stock jobber and the high salaried official.


Public graft is subject to certain rules and laws and restrictions. Private graft operates on a clear license to the individual or corporation to take every cent that they can find. Public management means that the eyes of every consumer and user are constantly turned upon the official and upon the methods, and every inducement is offered to perform the best service at the smallest rate. Private management leaves official and promoter entirely above the complaints and clamorings of the individual with a clear license to charge what the traffic will bear.

In almost every instance the public grant which authorizes the use of streets and alleys for public service corporations and the power of maintaining and carrying out this business is the largest asset upon which public service corporations issue their stocks and bonds. This asset is public property. It is deliberately given away by the owners of public property to individual capitalists to convert into private property and to permit these private owners to tax the citizens again in return.

The fact that our public life is filled with corruption, graft and incapacity is in no way an argument against public ownership, but is an argument against the political systems which prevail in the United States. Communal life cannot exist without levying taxes to provide revenue for the state. Wherever this is stolen or wasted or squandered, the reflection is not upon the duties undertaken by the state, but upon the ideals of the people as to the public service, the character and qualifications of the men who have been chosen to perform these public services and the low standard which allows political parties and public officials to use places in the public service for the payment of personal debts and provide pensions for friends. The use of a public office either to pay a political debt or to grant a pension to a friend is practically larceny, and when we criticize this method in a police department or postoffice department or in the army or navy, we do not say that the army or navy or the postoffice or the police department should be abolished, but

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