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No Longer Debatable
N August 31, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company sent out dividend checks to its stockholders. And with each check went this notice:
A check is enclosed herewith for dividend of 1 per cent. (fifty cents per share) upon stock of this Company registered in your name. This dividend is at the same quarterly rate as that paid three months ago. Prior to that date for a number of years the quarterly rate was 12 per cent. The decrease in traffic, and the unsettled condition of business generally, emphasize the policy of the Directors in making this reduction. They felt that although the dividend has not been earned in the present quarter, nor in the portion of the year that has elapsed, yet, having regard for the maintenance of the Company's credit and, therefore, for the best interests of its stockholders, it was desirable to declare a dividend of I per cent for the present quarter.
The Pennsylvania has always been reckoned the greatest piece of railroad property in the world and the best managed. It has paid dividends without break since 1856. From 1900 until three months ago it paid 6 per cent per annum, with the exception of 1906, when it paid 61⁄2 per cent, and 1907, when it paid 7 per cent.
Oh my countrymen what a fall was there! They congratulate us because during the war the enemy did not set foot upon our soil. Our fields were not ravaged, our houses not destroyed and our industries not halted. Well, see what
the war has done for the Pennsylvania, our most powerful railroad. And, if the road could speak, we might hear it say, "It is not my enemy that has done me this evil, but mine own familiar friend." Namely, Uncle Sam.
Can anyone suppose that if the Pennsylvania had managed itself during the war, instead of being managed by the Government at Washington, it would have reached the present pass? Indeed, no. It would have tried scrupulously to cut its coat according to its cloth, and probably it would in so doing have been as effective in helping to win the war as it was under Government control, many persons have the temerity to believe that it would have been much more effective.
The war has left a good many questions still open. To one, however, it has given an emphatic and definite answer. Before the war, Government operation of public utilities was at least a debatable proposition. What the railroads passed through between January 1, 1918, and July 1, 1920, (what, in fact, the Government has done since the passage of the Adamson law with reference to railroad wages, and what it has done in the way of intervention since relinquishing war-time control of the roads) has destroyed in sensible minds the last vestige of confidence in Government operation of industry. Some industries- the post office and navy yards for example -the Government must probably always continue to operate. The tax levy will have to take care of them. But let us keep the number of such industries as near as possible to an irreducible minimum. We have been a rich nation, but there is a limit to everything.
Cause and Effect
VERYONE is talking about the great increase of crime. But why should crime not increase? All the conditions are right for it; with millions being slaughtered right before our eyes almost, for a period of more than four years, the sacredness of human life was bound to deteriorate; with the industrial situation of the whole earth thrown out of adjustment, there is necessarily a stimulus to crime.
Few of us realize how closely we have approximated the mediæval times in the matter of the sacredness of life and property. The world adjusts itself to all sorts of conditions,
and it will adjust itself to this one. Every day we are less shocked by what we read in the papers. In some parts of the world crime is occurring on such a magnified scale that it has almost lost its character in the eyes of a great many persons. One murder made a villain,
Millions a hero. Princes were privileged
To kill, and numbers sanctified the crime.
Of course, that is not the way most of us look upon it, but it is unquestionably a fact that the sensibilities of all of us are being blunted. Let us not be too much distressed, however. This is not the first time crime was rampant, and it will not be the last. In some parts of Europe things are as bad as they were after the Thirty Years' War, and in this country they are such as would make our Puritan ancestors hold up their hands in horror. But as economic conditions improve the world will regain its moral sense.
Many persons are shocked when told that the basic conditions of life are economic. They deny the fact and say that man starts with a moral consciousness which is paramount to his economic circumstances. In a sense, of course, that is true. The moral consciousness of the race is a growth. By a process of evolution we have better defined ideas of morality than the race had at the start, but this very growth in moral consciousness has been to a very considerable extent associated with the improvement in economic conditions. History shows us that time and again when economic fitness has been lost, moral consciousness has deteriorated. This is only another one of those times.
It is certainly true that if you are good you will be happy; but alas! it is also true of a great many of us that if you are prosperous you will be good.
Are the Three R's Paramount?
T is interesting to read the current congressional hearings relative to the protection by embargo of the dye and allied chemical industries in this country against possible junker dumpers. The testimony as to the value of an artificially stimulated industry varies. The army and navy contend, and certainly with weighty arguments, that poison gas will be the weapon of the next war. They contend that in order to
be prepared we must have going chemical concerns which can be transformed from dye to gas manufacture.
But all competent witnesses at the hearings seem to agree upon two things. The first is that a large chemically trained personnel is more important than the physical apparatus, because the chemical plants can be constructed readily on a vast scale and put in operation on short notice, provided there are enough persons who know how to do it. In the second place it is contended that Germany was able to conduct a four and one-half-year war against the whole world because she had so many men wise in chemical pursuits.
Why did Germany have so many chemists? Because of her great dye and allied chemical activities of peace. Yes, but why did she lead the world in applied chemical knowledge? Because long ago Germany put chemistry into her higher grade schools as a study as important as the three R's because she recognized the utility of it.
Perhaps it is just as needful for a child to learn that two hydrogens plus one oxygen means water, and that one sodium plus one chlorine means salt, as to know that two dimes plus one nickel means a quarter, or that a subject plus a predicate constitutes a sentence.
The statement may surprise some persons, but chemistry is after all more constantly active in things of life than either of the things represented by the three R's. For a great many thousands of years only a very few persons knew how to read and write and cipher, but a great civilization was nevertheless built up. Chemistry acts constantly to the good or harm of the African savage, who has neither of the three signs of alleged culture. He does not know it, but it is a fact. If, therefore, a chemically wise personnel is an asset of such importance to the future life of this nation, why not tackle the problem direct and begin to teach chemistry in our public schools on the same plane with the three R's? The establishment of chemical industry in this country will then be spontaneous, and such chemical preparedness as our army and navy ask for will be achieved.
George Washington says that to be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. That statemeht is likely to be cited at the forthcoming Disarmament Conference. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there will be no peace so long as there exists a considerable body of