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established standard of charges. Yet the section as it now reads has been construed to require, in order to sustain an indictment, not only proof that a rate lower than the published rate was granted, but that some other person or persons actually paid the higher rate for like and contemporaneous shipments. To furnish such proof is in many, if not most, cases exceedingly difficult, and it ought not to be necessary. We are convinced that offenses of the character here referred to should, by express language, consist wholly in a departure from the legally established tariff, and that proof of the tariff rate at the time and of the acceptance of a lower rate should be sufficient to secure a conviction. Other incongruities and imperfections of phraseology appear in this section which it is not deemed necessary to specifically notice. Such amendments as are believed essential to correct the faults of structure and language in the section here referred to are set forth at length in another part of this report.
In the last two annual reports, as in some of those previously made, the Commission has condemned the obnoxious traffic in passenger tickets commonly known as “scalping” and has recommended its prohibition by an effective statute. A measure which seemed well calculated to accomplish this purpose and which received the approval of the Commission was favorably reported to the House of Representatives by its Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce during the last session of the last Congress, and subsequently passed that body by a large majority. The bill was thereupon sent to the Senate for concurrence, but failed to be acted upon there in the brief time then remaining before the close of the session.
While this measure was under consideration in the House the general subject of ticket brokerage and the provisions of the pending bill were widely discussed and attracted a considerable degree of public attention. The newspapers in all parts of the country, almost without exception, urged the passage of this bill and declared that ticket scalping was an evil which should be suppressed by law. Meanwhile various merchants' and shippers' associations, boards of trade, railway labor organizations, the Christian Endeavor and other kindred societies, and the ninth annual convention of State railroad commissioners adopted resolutions condemning the business of scalping and advocating the passage of the “antiscalper bill.”
During the last year the States of New York and New Jersey have enacted stringent laws against ticket scalping, and at least eight other States bad previously adopted similar legislation. It is in interstate tickets, however, that this traffic is most extensive and pernicious, and the action of Congress is necessary for its effectual suppression. The Commission adheres to the views already expressed and renews its former recommendations upon this subject.
As often as this Commission has had occasion to refer to the subject of a uniform basis for rate schedules over the whole country, whether in annual reports, opinions rendered, correspondence had, or personal conferences, it has not failed to emphasize the importance and indeed the necessity for such uniformity. A single classification is regarded essential to insure compliance with the law and to promote greater economy in the administration and conduct of transportation; it is. therefore in the interests of the carriers themselves. In no other way, it is believed, can the patrons of the roads, both shippers and consumers, obtain that actual justice and equal treatment which the act to regulate commerce was designed to secure.
The railways of the United States, acting independently and without restraint, originally adopted, for the most part, individual classification, and forty years ago these were nearly as numerous as the railroads themselves and led to endless confusion. Some classifications contained not less than thirty-three classes, and even in later years in most of the Southern States there were classifications in use containing as many as twenty-two classes of freight.
Ilowever, as the roads afterwards joined in pools and associations for the control of transportation in local territories, it became more convenient and economical to unify the basis for their schedules of joint and agreed rates, so that in 1886, at the time the Senate committee made its report, submitting a bill which afterwards, with amendments, became the act to regulate commerce, there were only about fifty different classifications in use in the United States. Even these comparatively few had given rise to serious and almost universal complaints, and the Senate committee reported that shippers were unanimously in favor of a single classification for the whole country.
But as the committee found that the carriers were already working toward uniform classification, and as under the proposed law the pub. lication of classifications as well as tariffs was to be under the direction of the Commission, it was believed that no specific legislation on this subject was necessary and none was recommended. It was thought that uniformity would come fast enough without legislation; and this confidence on the part of the committee, which was later shared by the Commission, was apparently justified by the immediately subsequent events.
The stronger associations, to increase their own usefulness and influence, were making constant efforts to absorb the rival local systems in their respective territories; and, with the impetus afforded by the impending interstate commerce act, they made such progress that when that law was ready to go into operation the number of classifications had been reduced to the three principal ones now in effect, and a few minor classifications that have since practically disappeared from interstate business.
The Commission in its first annual report commended this work of the roads in reducing the number of classifications as “extremely important and useful,” but deplored the fact that so many were still in existence. Trade organizations were still complaining of the serious discrepancies which existed in the surviving classifications, with their tendencies to discriminations and their possibilities for extortion. The Commission was expected to correct this state of things, and therefore continued to urge upon the roads the necessity for uniformity and the desirability that the reform should be accomplished by the voluntary action of the roads themselves.
Accordingly, in 1887, a committee of the associations interested met for the purpose of unifying "The Official and Western Classifications," but a series of rate wars that unfortunately ensued about this time robbed the busy committeemen of the necessary leisure to prosecute the work, and destroyed for the time being that harmony between the roads without which any attempt at unification by the carriers themselves must be hopeless.
In 1888, the House of Representatives passed a resolution authorizing and directing the Commission within three months, or by January 1, 1889, to prescribe a “uniform classification” for all the roads in the United States. Whereupon this Commission, through its chairman, by personal appeal and in letters to the officials of the various associations, urged the carriers to hasten the work of uniform classification, which it was said must be brought about soon, and if not agreed upon by the managers themselves was certain to be “compelled by law."
The Senate was advised of the progress and apparently favorable disposition of the railroads toward uniformity, as well as the impossibility of intelligent and just consideration of the subject by the Commission in the short time allowed by the resolution from the House; and above all, as the joint committee reported that 6 representations having been made that, if the railroad companies were given further time, they would obviate the necessity for action on the part of Congress,” the resolution was suffered to remain unacted upon.
The Commission in its annual report of that year again advised the Congress of the desirability of uniformity and of the gratifying progress of the roads in that direction; and declared that, as long as the carriers appeared to be laboring toward unification with reasonable diligence and in good faith, it was better that they should be encouraged and stimulated to continue their efforts than that the work should be taken out of their hands.
In December of that year a new convention met in Chicago, consisting of three delegates from each of the existing associations; these selected a standing committee of two members from each of the eight associations to endeavor to combine the existing classifications in one general classification.” After some changes in the representation and the committee and many days' work at various places, extending over
several months, by men of skill and long experience, they finally agreed on a classification which they recommended zho!!! be adopted by all the roads on January 1, 1890.
With this classification, which was not pretended to be perfect, was recommended a system of rules and representation by which necessary changes and modifications might be made. It was said at the time that the Western roads, fearful that their revenues would be injured by the new classification, stood ready to repudiate it; but the withdrawal of the Eastern trunk lines made any further resistance unnecessary, and the work of two years was apparently thrown away. No official statement by the trunk lines was published, but a semiofficial contribution to a current leading railway periodical announced that their objections were: That there was no general demand for the new classification; that the popular belief that such consolidation had been ordered by the Commission was a mistake, as the indications were the Commission considered such action premature; that existing classifications grew out of the needs of different territories, and that when further changes were necessary they could be easily effected.
Of course these objections were apparently waived by the trunk lines when their representatives took part in the proceedings which resulted in the proposed classification; but a more serious and plausible objection was that, while necessary expenses were assessed according to tonnage, the associations in the new scheme had only equal representation. That is, the official classification territory, and the roads which composed it, claimed at that time to carry three-fourths of the tonnage and handle two-thirds of the revenue arising from interstate commerce, while they had but six members out of twenty-two on the board of revision. Besides this, they objected that absolute power was given under the suggested rules to the chairman and board, such rules not even permitting arbitration, while under the system then in operation the board simply recommended amendments and the railroads approved. All these objections were aimed not at uniform classification itself, but at the machinery then proposed for its regulation and amend. ment, as involving too great a sacrifice of the influence and authority then enjoyed by the associations opposing the adoption of the recommended classification.
It was unfortunate that this earnest effort at consolidation failed when the reform was deemed so essential, as this joint committee, composed of practical railroad representatives, reported that without such reform in the territories wherein dissimilar classifications overlap it is impracticable to avoid discriminations such as are forbidden.”
Thus ended the only systematic and serious effort which has ever been made to unify the classifications for the whole country, and while thus postponing indefinitely such result, it is only a temporary check, for uniform classification is inevitable; but the delay since that time has needlessly burdened the roads, worked injustice to the public, and embarrassed Congress and the Commission.
When the Commission made its third and fourth annual reports there was still some hope that this proposed classification might be adopted, but when the report for 1891 was made no such hope remained. Whilo the Commission announced in this report that its convictions remained unchanged, and that the necessities of commerce required the existing classifications to be consolidated, and as speedily as practicable, it did “not feel justified in asking for the further efforts of the carriers the same measure of indulgence which it has heretofore suggested should be extended to them and which was thought to be required in the public interest.”
In their sixth annual report the Commission again invited the attention of Congress to the subject of "fixing the time within which car. riers shall be required to adopt a uniform classification of freights.”
In the seventh, the Commission felt“constrained to renew the recommendation,” and “were couvinced that the only way by which the railways can surely be brought to cooperation is to render it certain that if they neglect the work it will be done by an authorized board or tribunal, may be less competent for the work than the carriers themselves.”
In 1897, the Commission, despairing of any further voluntary assistance from the carriers themselves, recommended that Congress direct the Commission to make and prescribe prior to the 1st day of July, 1896,” one uniform classification of freights.
In the ninth annual report is detailed the meeting by invitation of two members of the Cominission with the committee of the State railroad commissioners in New York City to confer with representative traffic managers on the subject of the adoption by the roads of a uniform classification.
At this meeting it was freely avowed that the action of Congress was undoubtedly necessary to accomplish further progress toward uniform classification,” and the Commission then recommended that Congress require the carriers to adopt, within a reasonable time, a uniform: classification of freights, or failing this that the Commission be author.ized to prescribe such classification.
This recommendation was repeated in our last annual report.
The trade organizations of the United States, the organs and representatives of railway interests, the shippers, and indeed all who have to do with our internal commerce, have for years been unanimous in expressing the belief that such uniformity would be for the best interests of the public.
The railroad commissioners of the States, upon whom much will depend, in the event of the adoption of uniform classification for interstate traffic, for the adoption of the same system for State traffic, have been earnest and consistent advocates of such reform. On January 31, 1889, a call was issued for a general convention of State railroad commissioners to be held in Washington, to consider amorg other subjects “Classification of freight, its simplification and unification.” Eack.
H. Doc. 157-5