« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
persons who see a gain in breaking the peace. Necessity knows no law. If there are going to be wars in the future, we have got to be prepared for them, and if there is any way of preparing for them at a minimum cost that is the way we should adopt. If chemistry is going to be the chief weapon in future wars, it is a wise nation that teaches its people as much chemistry as possible.
HILE it is not true that "every prospect pleases and only man is vile," it may be confidently asserted that every prospect would be much more pleasing than at present if man were not quite so vile. Where there is a will there is a way, but the unfortunate thing about the present world situation is that will power is at low ebb. When a ship is emerging from a cyclone, with rudder smashed and rigging demolished, it is no time for the crew to take to the bottle and the jack-knife.
There is a feeling that things will right themselves in time. Everything will right itself in time, but time is something with which no one is more than scantily endowed. The Dark Ages cured themselves in time; but they lasted a thousand years, and unfortunately, the life of man is only three score years and ten. Time is no respecter of persons; it is no fonder of the workingman than of the capitalist; nor is it any fonder of the fool than of the knave.
In the first month of this year the masterbuilders decided that, if there was going to be any construction work, wages would have to be cut. The various labor unions took the opposite view and demanded higher wages. It was left to time to settle. The unions declared a strike, which has never been called off. After about six months the unions have, however, quietly intimated to their members that there would be no objection to their accepting any employment they could get. Thus time appears to have been settling this question. But think of the cost! And the building trades constitute only one instance.
During the past year the courts have been sending a good many knaves to jail; but on the other hand, thousands of fools who did business with these knaves (and with others. who have not yet been put behind the bars) have been
despoiled of a vast amount of money. The biter and the bit have alike come to grief. Time has settled the question, but not in a way to please anybody.
Time treats men's knavery and folly as it treats their garments:
My galligaskins, that have long withstood
Well, time has certainly disclosed some horrid chasms of late in our social and industrial garb. It is only ourselves that will keep us from actual nakedness. Time is no tailor. It will not cut and sew for us. It will not unaided even provide us with the raw materials. All it will do is to provide soil and sunshine and rain. When it has done this it says, "Go to, and raise the materials to make yourselves clothes!"
Every prospect pleases, and only man is vile. If man will not work he shall not eat. If he will work time will give him the wherewithal will thrust it under his very nose, in fact. But if he won't work, time will cure things for him by wiping him off the earth.
There is such a thing as taking time by the forelock. But that is work! Life, to change the figure a little, is like a bull fight. If we do not put the bull out of commission, he will put us out.
Now the world is up against the bull. And the worst of it is, the world is now on foot and not on horseback, and is under the necessity of taking the bull by the horns. Still, the fireside matadors continue to tell us that time will intervene in our behalf. It will indeed - death cures all things!
Work, not luck, is going to save us, if anything is. The less we work now the more we shall have to work later. The longer you delay in rebuilding a burnt city, the smaller the chances that it will ever be rebuilt the less you will have to rebuild it with.
With labor remaining idle from choice for weeks and months, with labor union funds diminishing, with persons of past thrift eating into their past savings at increasing pace, with lessened production of goods, with vastly decreased sales in foreign markets, with farmers carrying over unsold a large portion of last year's crops and selling this year's crops at only a half of what they got two years ago,
with federal expenditures still near top-notch and municipal tax rates everywhere increasing in a way to make us hold our breath with these and other things, what hope has this country, to say nothing of the world as a whole, unless everyone gets to work and employs his brains or his muscle (preferably both) as he never employed them before!
Time will cure all our present troubles, but if we want to see the result we must all chip in and help. Millions of persons throughout the world (and a great many in this country) are killing time (actually or by misdirected effort) until time shall kill them.
Meanwhile our clothes are receiving more and more patches. Yet "horrid chasms" are increasingly disclosed. Like Rosalind, the world might honestly declare (though in a somewhat different sense) "My pride fell with my fortune." As pride in honest accomplishment has diminished vanity born of assumed and imagined virtues has waxed strong. The worse our clothes the greater our swagger.
Hanging as a Fine Art
OTHING was ever truer than a remark by Mr. Russell
Atlantic Monthly. He declares that it seems difficult for the public to take property, or its value, away from individuals, and at the same time increase the public's possessions.
The quality of expropriation, like the quality of mercy, has a two-fold aspect. It does not bless either party to the transaction. But on the contrary it curses those who do the deed as well as those on whom it is inflicted. You can't, for example, dispossess a public utility of its property, or its value, without dispossessing the community of some of its property.
If a community has, on the one hand, so diminished the earning power of a public utility that it has to increase the price of its service, the community is necessarily a loser. If, on the other hand, it lessens the earning power of the utility without letting the utility increase its price, it is also a loser.
In the first case, it primarily loses the money involved in the increased price of the service, and then, as a result, it lessens general business throughout the community. In the second case, by preventing the public utility from making
good its loss, it forces it to diminish the amount and character of its service. Thus the community primarily loses service, and then cash; for as the public utility service lessens one of two things must happen - either the lessened service will make lessened general business, or the community will have to raise new money to provide a new service, in this way keeping other necessary business from having the use of the capital.
We have some glowing instances of impairing the public good by impairing public utility values. The value of New England steam railroads has been greatly reduced by the treatment accorded the roads, and when we say this we make full allowance for the impairment arising from other causes, such as the general hard times. Now, has not the community lost in equal degree with the railroads?
Without doubt. Railroad fares have increased to such extent that everyone has had to cut his traveling down to the lowest notch. As the fare has gone up the conveniences, to say nothing of the comforts, of traveling have gone down.
The situation is quite as bad when you look at the freight and express business. While rates have necessarily gone up, the facilities for handling the business that offered have declined. In consequence, shippers have resorted more and more to automobile transportation, one result being that our public highways have to be rebuilt at increasingly slight intervals, thus creating a problem of the first magnitude for taxpayers.
Not so many years ago the Boston & Maine railroad put out a new issue of stock. Under the mandate of the Railroad Commission it had to offer it to the public at $190 a share. Today Boston & Maine stock is worth less than one-tenth of that figure. Bear in mind that the avalanche in this stock was not started, though undoubtedly it was expedited, by war and post-war circumstances. It began earlier, as a result of efforts by the public, and its representatives, to dispossess the road of certain of its facilities. Think of the losses of investors who could ill afford to lose!
One of the Boston papers printed an article recently, showing that railroad rates in New England are today higher than they were in 1840. The passenger fare to a certain town was then twenty cents. It is now thirty-six cents. There was a time (when railroads were allowed more control of their
resources) when passenger fares were in many cases as low as two cents per mile. Now, when you get up to a certain mileage and add the war tax, they are nearer four cents a mile.
Railroading was only about ten years advanced in 1840. It is now about ninety years old. We spent two generations developing, refining and cheapening this great adjunct of civilization, but during the last generation it has seemed as if we were intent on reversing the process. Whatever we may say, actions speak louder than words.
No, you cannot enrich the people by despoiling the individual. If you enrich the one you must inevitably enrich the other; if you despoil the one, you despoil the other. We must all hang together, says Franklin, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Painting the Pump
OODY, the evangelist, who had a pithy way of saying things, once exclaimed: "You may whitewash a pesthouse, but it will be a pest-house still. A man was once told that the water in his well was bad. 'Well,' said he, 'I'll see to it,' and he painted the pump. There are a lot of people trying to make the well all right by painting the pump.
There always have been. The devil himself invented the process. Whenever he fancied his natural black would frighten people, he painted himself white in order to look like an angel of light. The Scribes and Pharisees learned the art of him: of them it was once said, "Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the platter, but within are full of extortion and excess."
It is an easy occupation, and comparatively cheap; and while the paint is fresh the result is quite effective — to the eye. The eye, however, is only one of five senses; some regard is due the other four. Though the pest-house may decorate the landscape, a wise man will shun it; and though the pump may be an artistic creation, a wise man will want to know about the water before he drinks it.
A pest-house and a poisoned well are extreme cases. We are all afraid of them because we all know that they get in their work with deadly rapidity, in some matters we have to have our wits about us every minute. But where the effect