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cures the stockholder and builder by relieving against the reasonable probability that a railroad built to develop new territory would
pass into the bondholders' or into a receiver's hands before the territory could be developed, the benefit to the stockholders ought not reasonably to be considered an offset to the benefit to the shippers.
Rebates and discriminations are neither peculiar to railways nor dangerous to the “republic.” They are as necessary and as harmless to the former as is the chromo which the seamstress or the shop-girl gets with her quarter-pound of tea from the small tea-merchant, and no more dangerous to the latter than are the aforesaid chromos to the small recipients. The trouble Mr. Hudson finds with them is that the railway systematizes them instead of granting them at random or for sentimental reasons. The quasi-public character of railways, he thinks, should make these rebates illegal. The railway, in exchange for its right of eminent domain, should listen to the wants of the whole people instead of to individuals. Undoubtedly. But the whole people are not shippers over any one railroad ; nor does any one railroad draw its revenue from the whole people. Of course, I am proceeding upon the supposition that the United States Government does not propose to become a gigantic railway corporation, and add to its legislative, judicial, and executive functions the operating of 125,379 miles of railway, with a funded debt of $3,669,115,722. Did “the republic" undertake such a task, does Mr. Hudson, after reading his own book, believe that there would be no rebates or discriminations extended to anybody for political, economical, or social purposes ?
The subject of "fast freight lines” might well be dismissed in the same breath, these being a financial consideration entirely between the companies and their stockholders. It may be noted, however, that they are public accommodations, affording to large parcels the safety, care, and prompt delivery which express companies afford to small ones, and that, like the express companies, they have grown to be public necessities. They not only
secure the delivery of freight at destinations beyond the receiving line, but have introduced new amenities into civilization by distributing products. By their aid the New Yorker finds daily on his table the fruits of California, or the glorious beef from Texas grazing; and the dweller in the lake-shore States his seafood, as if each had changed places with the grower and gatherer. Nor do the figures show an increase, but, paradoxical as it may seem, a substantial decrease in tariffs on non-perishable freights by their means.
Construction companies, however, Mr. Hudson prefers to describe as conspiracies of the founders of the corporation to enrich themselves by robbing it, that when they have ruined their corporation they may sell out their stocks and bonds before the swindle is discovered, and finally inflict the loss upon the investing public (p. 279). He does not say, be it observed, that they are sometimes, or often, or even generally, this terrible swindle. He simply gives the above as a definition of the term construction companies"; and so everywhere, not a single device, not a single contrivance, not a single method or custom of a railway company, by any chance finds favor in his eyes. They are never under any circumstances, anything but schemes to plunder, override, and cheat Mr. Hudson's involuntary clients, the people.
THERE certainly never arose in practical railway operation a situation wherein a railway company was solicitous to charge less money for doing more work and to pay its own expenses meanwhile. But in practical railway policy a difference between the cost and the value of certain business to the company might, and sometimes does, arise which appeals to the company's instinct of
self-preservation too despotically to be disregarded. A railway company, which has for long years acceptably served its local and throuoh patrons, finds itself suddenly paralleled by a rival company, serving all or some of the same localities not only, but prepared as a part of its (the second comer's) investment to undergo the expense of “cutting” rates, and so to supplant the first comer by offering to take business for less than the actual expense of doing it, even though some of the competing points are farther distant from the common terminals of the paralleled line than the actual length of the roads. Under such circumstances, the value of all of its original business it could retain would be clearly of more value to the first company than the then present cost of doing it: and the result would, of course, by every law of human economy or of human nature, be that the first company would either anticipate or respond to the “cut." The effect in either case would be to cheapen tariffs to the shipper-to the people. But Mr. Hudson, at this moment, does not care for the people. Later on he will take up the cudgels for them, but just now he kindly holds a brief for the railroads. He thinks it shameful that deserving and hard-working railroads should be obliged to take long hauls for actually less than they are legally entitled to charge for short hauls—for much smaller distances. Mr. Hudson has no objection, of course, to one of his fellow-countrymen riding from New York to Chicago for five dollars, or shipping live-stock from Toledo to Buffalo at one dollar a car-load during a railway war. (Or, if he should still remember the poor public, it will be not the poor public who ride a thousand miles for five dollars, or at the rate of half a cent a mile, but the poor public who commonly ride one hundred and sixty-seven miles for five dollars, thereby being compelled to either walk or pay the legal mileage of three cents which the company is allowed by law to charge. But should the railway companies find that carrying passengers from New York to Chicago for five dollars, or cattle from Toledo to Buffalo at one dollar a car-load does not pay—that by making such rates they are robbing—not the public at large, perhaps, but their own stockholders, and depreciating their own securities; and
should, since no others offer, the railway companies themselves propose becoming their own reformers, and so evolve the idea of pool commissions whereby each company might yet live and enjoy the franchises the people had given it—when this new aspect presents itself, we say-Mr. Hudson shifts back to his original brief, and finds the railways once again the rampant enemies of his corraled clients—the people. But on taking up his brief our unfortunate Mr. Hudson finds himself once more out of court, confronted with the terrible truth that under the pool the rates have not only not been raised but have actually fallen below a legalized minimum, and his occupation and standpoint again departed. A comparison of tariffs before and after the local pool systems existing at the passage of the Interstate Commerce bill of course can not be attempted here. But it will be found to correspond everywhere throughout the country to the following figures taken at random. (Of course the tariffs need not be compared with figures existing at the inception of railroads or at intervals of ten years since, because everybody knows-who knows anything, or who reflects upon the subject at all—that the history of the railway has been the history of tariff reductions upon every commodity, every product of human manufacture or yield of Nature):
Rates before es- Rates after
tablishment of tablishment of pool (per 100 pool (per 100
Omaha to Kansas City or Denver, first
class. Omaha to Kansas City or Denver,
fourth class.. Omaha to Salt Lake City, first class.. Omaha to Salt Lake City, fourth class *New York to Pittsburg, fourth class. *New York to Altoona, fourth class..
1.40 3.30 1.75 .30 .28
1.15 3.00 1.50 .20 .17
All the above being non-competitive or “short-haul" points (since Kansas City, Denver, and Salt Lake can only be reached
* I take these last two quotations from Mr. E. P. Alexander's “ Railway Practice; its Principles and Suggested Reforms reviewed," New York, 1887. In 1885, Mr. Joseph Nimmo, Jr., chief of the government Bureau
from Omaha—or the points Pittsourg or Altoona can only reached from New York-by land transportation), there was no legal, certainly no natural, reason (according to Mr. Hudson) why the mere technical fact of a pool should have lowered rates. If, as Mr. Hudson asserts, railways are selfish, grasping, lawless monopolies, encmies of the republic and devourers of the people, there was, on the contrary, every reason why, when three or four railways pooled their issues and monopolized all the possible rail connections to thatpoint, rates should be as high as, if not higher than before. Certainly there is no reason, legal or natural, why, to a point like Altoona, among the mountains, to which but a single through line has had the courage or the charter to climb (and that one, according to Mr. Hudson, one of the most grasping of all his category of grasping monopolies), freights should be lower after the organization of a pool than they were before. The explanation appears, however, as the demonstration proceeds and the technical meaning of the terms “long haul” and “short haul ” becomes self-evident. Clearly the points we have named become “short hauls' against (for exampleSan Francisco, the haul to which is therefore called a "long haul.” Now, in establishing rates to San
of Statistics, gave the following table of Rates from Chicago to San Francisco:
[Rates per 100 pounds. ]
Freight tariff of
5 00 4 00 3 25 2 50 2 25 2 00 1 75 150