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Eugene V. (Eugene Valentine) Brewster.

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mining coal, and, while they were idle, all other
workmen on the island sent them money and
provisions out of sympathy. It was dead winter
and people began to suffer and some of the
factories had to shut down. Even the railroads
could not run their engines. But the people
made such an uproar that the coal owners final-
ly surrendered a little, reluctantly, and again
the mines were operated.

Not long after this, a similar disturbance took
place in the cotton fields, and for a long while
the whole island suffered for want of the hun-
dreds of things which cotton goes to make, even
to shoe strings and lampwicks.

For several years these outbreaks in the differ-
ent villages were very frequent. First it was a
cry of, ''no oil;" then, "no milk;" then, "no
iron;" then "no meat." Finally, as a last straw
on the back of the already exhausted camel, all
*the railroads formed a partnership, and they too
became tied up, and ceased operation. Without
them, the people could scarcely get anything to
eat, or drink, or wear, or burn, and famine threat-



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 143

ened the island; because, every village had be-
come devoted to only one thing, and it could
not do or produce anything else. Each had
learned to depend upon the other villages for
every other article. Then there was a great pub-
lic uprising. Meetings were held everywhere.
Many people said that the trouble was because
people formed partnerships. Others answerea
by saying that that was not the cause, for even
if there were no partnerships, still one village
would continue to have all the coal, another all
the oil, and another all the cotton, on the island.
There were no tariffs, no land monopoly, no
special privileges, no government favoritism, no
railroad discrimination, and no taxes, so those
whose fathers had heard of such things in other
countries could not advance such arguments.
Nature had given certain villages a natural
monopoly of certain industries. Nature had also
given certain men a natural monopoly over cer-
tain trades and pursuits by making them apt and
proficient therein. Therefore, Nature was the
criminal, and she alone was to be blamed. But
what were the forlorn islanders to do about it?

One fine day, when everything was in a tur-
moil of discontent and perplexity, the philoso-
pher again made his appearance upon the island.
Many thought him a Divine being sent from



144 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

heaven to succor and advise them; and so, when
he had called them all together, he addressed
them thus:

"My friends, you have advanced and pro-
gressed and developed wondrously in one direc-
tion, but you have made a fatal mistake. You
have specialized and localized your industries,
and have affected an efficient system of division
of labor, but, you forget that this means monop-
oly in private hands. You have overlooked the
fact that now, every man is dependent upon every
other man, and every industry is dependent upon
every other industry. Again, when one hundred
concerns combine into a partnership, or Trust,
as we call it, and throw thousands out of em-
ployment, or when a new machine does so, you
now have no way of providing for these unem-
ployed thousands, and you cast them out upon
the world to shift for themselves."

"O, Sir," cried one of the islanders, "why can
we not return to the old way and not have all
these modern ideas? We were getting along all
right before we began to exchange commodities
with each other. Why can we not go back to
the old way?"

"Ah, too late, my friend, even if you all wished
it," the old philosopher said.

"But, surely, you do not wish it," he added.



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 145

''Do you remember when you worked from early
morn till late at night and then had no stoves,
no lamps, no blankets, no carpets, no crockery,
no cooking utensils, no gas, no chairs, no wag-
ons? Do you wish to return to that? Do you
wish to isolate yourself from your fellow men
and separately make and raise everything you
eat and wear?"

Everybody saw the logic of this simple phi-
losophy, and he was beseeched to show them
what to do.

"What you must do, my friends, is to organ-
ize. Organization is all you require. You have
as yet only organized into simple isolated groups.
You must now organize all these groups. Every
industry, every partnership, is a group. Each
group is dependent upon all the others. This
being true, you must form a whole. Let every
man stick to his special work, let every locality
remain in its special work, let every industry
and every partnership stick to its special work, —
don't disturb nature — but all these must stick to
each other! How? By forming yourselves into
one solid, compact, organized body. Call your-
selves a nation. Have a convention at stated
times, and let every industry, every labor organi-
zation, and every locality send representatives
and delegates to this convention. It is foolish



14(? WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

of you to let the coal villages send coal wher-
ever, whenever, and in such quantities, as they
wish. And so with every other industry. The
law of demand is not always sufficient, as a guide
to what is needed. All are demanding more coal
now, yet the coal village is sending it out, here
and there, without organized plan, system or
method. The national convention should deter-
mine these questions, and all other national ques-
tions that do not adjust themselves naturally.
When they do not adjust themselves naturally
complaint should be and will be made to the
national convention, and then the convention
shall have power to settle the question in dispute.
If one industry fails to do its duty and supply
the others with its specialty, be it coal, oil, cot-
ton, bricks or gloves, it is ground for complaint,
and it then becomes a question for the national
convention. If a partnership or industry tails
to pay its employees suitable wages, and those
employees refuse to work, it becomes a national
question, and the national convention must direct
that that industry must give to the workmen a
greater share or proportion of the profits of that
industry. Whether it shall be a raise in wages,
or compulsory profit-sharing, is a question for
the national convention to settle. Again when
men cannot work, and thev become a burden



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 147

upon society, it becomes a national question, be-
cause their non-employment is caused by the
organization of the industries, and it becomes the
nation's duty to give these men an opportunity
to earn a living. This it can do by lessening the
hours of work in the industries. If all the work-
men are required to work fewer hours each day,
more men will be required to work, and thus em-
ployment can be given to all. Every national
question can therefore safely be entrusted to the
national convention; and, so long as that conven-
tion has power to act, you will have no trouble.

I believe, however, that so long as the national
convention is known to be in existence, and thai
it has such power of direction, there will be little
for it to do. Because, the great partnerships and
industries and labor organizations, knowing of
such a supreme judicial power, will usually so
adjust their dififerences, and in a natural and
peaceful way, that but few questions will come
before the national convention. It is therefore
the knowledge of the existence and power of such
body that will urge all men to act honorably
with one another. It is the fear of it which will
be the potent factor, and not the thing itself."

After a few more remarks of explanation, the
old philosopher disappeared as mysteriously as
he had come. After deliberating upon his wise



148 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

suggestion for a while, the islanders finally
adopted his plan, and forever thereafter the
island never had occasion to seek his counsel.

PART VII.

CONCLUSIONS.

Let us assume that in the preceding pages we
have proved the following propositions:

1. That the Trust cannot and must not be
destroyed.

2. That the government could not and should
not own and operate the Trusts.

3. That the Trust, if not interfered with, will
work great injury to society and that therefore
some stringent action must be taken.

4. That such action must be such as will not
destroy the many virtues of the Trust.
INTERDEPENDENCE.

Let us assume that we have also proven the
following propositions:

1. That every man is dependent upon his fel-
lows for all the necessaries and comforts of life.

2. That every industry is dependent upon
other industries.

3. That the natural, proper and inevitable
tendency is toward specialization and localiza-
tion.



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 149

4. That, as men specialize, and industries lo-
calize, a natural monopoly results.

5. That each man and each industry becomes
an integral part of an immense industrial
machine.

6. That harmonious action of this machine
must exist, for the reason that if a single wheel is
misplaced here, or an engineer refuses to respond
there, the action of the entire machine is im-
paired.

In the face of these two groups of premises
but one conclusion can be drawn, and that con-
clusion may be expressed in a single word —
ORGANIZATION! Men, localities and in-
dustries being interdependent, society must or-
ganize for the general welfare. A league or as-
sociation must be formed, in which every man,
every locality and every industry is represented.
Like all other societies, this association must
have a common head or center. It need not be
altruistic (as against egoistic), because the wel-
fare of one must be the concern of all, if for no
other than purely selfish motives. The whole
must see that every part properly performs its
work. A man can no longer be an isolated unit,
for he is now an integral and necessary part of
society. He not only owes duties to himself, he



150 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

owes duties to society. He must recognize the
mutuality of all true human interests.

GOVERNMENT.

Can such an association or society be organ-
ized? Can so immense a collection of bodies
meet and combine with unanimity? Fortu-
nately, we need not speculate on the correct an-
swer to these questions. We have an illustrious
example at hand. Society has already organized.
The organization is improperly called govern-
ment. Government is simply organized society.
We elect a President as a public servant, not as
a governor. He does not, or should not, reign
over us, but serve us, and do our bidding. This
is not a monarchy, but a democracy.

And so the great machine is already organ-
ized. Unfortunately we are not in the habit of
looking at government as a huge industrial
machine, and our law makers are too prone to
assume arbitrary and tyrannical power, regard-
less of the theory of democracy upon which all
our institutions rest. Furthermore, our law-
makers are mostly lawyers, rather than indus-
trialites.

NATIONAL DIRECTION.

Either organized society (government) is sup-
posed to protect ■ members (citizens), or it is



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 151

not. If it is, then it is its duty to see that the
necessaries of life are not monopolized and
placed beyond the reach of its people. If it is
not, then the organization is a failure, for with-
out the means of sustenance a nation cannot exist.
If, then, we may be permitted to view govern-
ment as an organization of society having for its
aim the welfare and protection of its members,
why shall not that society have power to
DIRECT the industrial machine? If all men
and industries in the nation are interdependent,
why shall there not be a NATIONAL DIREC-
TION, so that every industry shall be made to
do its duty toward society? If people must have
coal, or oil, or meat, or transportation, or gloves,
and one set of men or one locality has a monopoly
thereof, why shall not the nation DIRECT that
those men or those localities shall do right
by all other men and by all other lo-
calities? That they will not always do so in the
absence of national direction is evidenced by
the recent strike. The labor unions of the coun-
try are probably able and willing to support the
strikers for years when a vital principle is in-
volved, and so thoroughly is labor organizing
that serious conditions are likely to obtain in that
most important of all industries, transportation,



162 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

to which industry all others are so closely related
and on which they are so helplessly dependent.

FIXING PRICES.

If government is to "promote the general wel-
fare" by assuming the obligation of keeping the
necessaries of life within the reach of its people,
it must of necessity prohibit the fixing of prices
of those necessaries beyond the purchasing power
of the people. Thus, if the coal operators hav-
ing a monopoly of coal choose to make the price
of that necessary $50 a ton, the national board of
arbitrators (be it Congress or some other body),
must fix a reasonable price and if the employees
of any industry have a grievance, they cannot be
allowed to strike and stop work — their griev-
ances must be arbitrated by the National Board.
Probably such a course would never become
necessary, when the industrial organization is
perfected and the readjustment accomplished,
but the power of national direction must be ever
present, // for no other purpose than to act as a
warning.

FIXING HOURS OF WORK.

What is true of prices is equally true of the
hours of work. Government will not owe every
man a living, but it will ovv^e every man an op-



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 153

portunity to earn a living. As the principle of
co-operation develops and is utilized, so great
would be the economy that many w^ould na-
turally be thrown out of employment. Thus,
rather than create a public poorhouse, or "idle
house," the hours of daily work must be reduced
to include all who are able and willing to labor.

If the tobacco manufacturers by combining
and organizing the Shoe Trust have thrust say
50,000 travelling salesmen and jobbers out of
employment, it should not complain if they are
nationally directed to contribute toward their
support in the same or in some other more use-
ful and productive industry by being directed
to reduce the hours of work of all men who are
employed by it, thus making room for all who
desire to labor. Co-operation and combination
carry their responsibilities, and the co-operators
must be presumed to intend the natural conse-
quences of their acts. Hence, the nation is jus-
tified in directing a reduction in the hours of
work whenever occasion requires.

And this is not so radical as at first appears.
Many of our State Legislatures have heretofore
passed laws fixing the price of gas, telephone
service and railroad rates, and they have even
fixed the hours of daily work in certain indus-
tries. Again, witness the volumes of law in re-



154 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

gard to buildings, sweat shops, hotels, mines and
railroads, designed and passed for "public
safety" and protection, and for ''the general wel-
fare."

Again, witness what was done by all govern-
ments during the Great War!

LABOR'S SHARE.

Those who claim that "labor creates all
wealth" must concede that the foreman, the su-
perintendent, the president and the manager is
just as much a laborer as the man who wields a
hammer or drives a truck. That the latter do
not often get a fair share of the product or of
"what he produces" is, of course, true, for "rent,
interest and profit" eat up much of the proceeds
of his toil. Without delving needlessly into the
profound question of the relations between capi-
tal and labor, be it said that labor can, by a sys-
tem of national direction such as is here sug-
gested, obtain a fair and just reward for its toil
through a system of compulsory profit-sharing.
There are already many cases in America of vol-
untary profit-sharing with employes, and em-
ployers have found that their men work better,
quicker and more faithfully when given an in-
terest in the business. This is not urged as a
necessary part of the national direction idea, but



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 155

as a most desirable part, and I am of opinion that
in compulsory profit-sharing with employes lies
the real solution and adjustment of the differ-
ences between capital and labor.

COMPULSION.

The word "compel" is a harsh word. It
strikes at personal liberty and individual free-
dom and attacks that spirit of independence
which makes men brave, honest and noble.

The theory of democracy assumes that every
man has an inherent and absolute right to free-
dom and liberty in so far as in exercising that
right he does not impair the rights of his fel-
lows. He is the sole judge of what he wants and
of what is best for him, but in satisfying those
wants he must not interfere with the rights of
others.

Law and government are designed to protect
those rights, and in so doing the right of com-
pulsion is implied. All our institutions, courts,
laws and legislative departments rest upon the
power of compulsion, and without that power
our form of government becomes ineffective. We
compel a man to keep his contract by applying
to the court for an injunction ; we compel the
vicious to obey certain laws or we imprison him;
we compel railroads to charge not more than a



156 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

certain fare; we compel house owners to clear
their sidewalks of snow; we compel men to pay
other men what they owe, and if they do not, we
compel the sheriff to take away his property; we
compel importers to pay a tariff; we compel
husbands to support their families, and we com-
pel all to help support the government by taxa-
tion.

The more civilization advances, the more
society finds it necessary to organize; and the
more organized society is, the more compulsion
is necessary, until men become more perfect.
Every individual now owes duties to the col-
lectivity as well as to himself, and the power of
compulsion must be vested in the collectivity so
that those duties may be enforced.

If we have arrived at that stage of progress
when every man can be depended upon to per-
form his whole duty by respecting the rights of
others, keeping his contracts and doing only
those things which will benefit society, and if
the Trust can be depended upon to charge rea-
sonable prices, pay just wages and in all things
respect the rights of others, then the word com-
pulsion may be stricken from the political dic-
tionary. If we have not, if men are still selfish,
dishonest and inconsiderate of the rights of other



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 157

men, then the right to compel must be a part of
the political machinery.

TAXATION.

The question may be asked, What power can
compel the Trusts to do that which they have
been directed to do by the nation? For example,
suppose the coal mines remained idle, — what if
the operators refused to obey the national di-
rectory? It is not the purpose of this brief writ-
ing to draw up a complete code, showing in de-
tail how each and every man, industry and ques-
tion shall be handled, but simply to show that
such a code can be drawn and its regulations en-
forced. How do we now compel the electric
lighting companies to charge not more than a
certain rate, the importers to pay a tarifl, the gas
companies to supply us with gas at certain prices,
the law-breaker to pay his fine, and the corpora-
tions to pay their taxes and penalties? These
methods are well known, and they would per-
haps be adequate if adopted by the nation to com-
pel its members to keep its rules and regulations.
If not, a certainly effective means of inducement
would be found in a tax on land values; for then,
if a Trust refused to obey, the land upon which it
rests could be so taxed as to render it unprofitable
to hold it idle, and the Trust managers would



158 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

soon be compelled either to operate or sell the
plant. The land monopoly evil is serious and
threatening, since all our land is owned by about
ten per cent, of our people, and, unfortunately,
we are in the habit of inviting men to buy vacant
land and hold it idle while waiting for a rise in
values. The earth being the source of all wealth,
those who monopolize the land have a first lien
upon all production. There appears to be no
immediately practicable remedy for this de-
plorable and unnatural state of affairs, yet it is
quite certain that whether or not the contention
of the Single Taxers is sound, national direction
will be a step in the right direction; for it will
mean a more compact and more perfect organiz-
ation of society, and then we shall be able to see
more clearly just where the evils exist, just what
is at fault, and just what would remedy the de-
fects in our present system. Besides, it would
permanently fix the taxing power in the national
collectivity, and when the various methods of
taxation were being considered in the national
councils, the law of cause and effect could more
easily be traced and distinguished owing to the
solidarity of society and the specific information
and complaint that would be forthcoming from
the most competent and well informed sources.



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 159

CONSTITUTIONS.

Must the constitution be amended in order
that NATIONAL DIRECTION shall be put
into effect? And, if so, would it take eight or
ten years before this could be done? And is that
constitution of ours, which has carried us so suc-
cessfully through a century and a quarter, so
sacred that it should be kept, with religious fi-
delity, unchanged and unaltered? Recent events
seem to cry out No!

As times and conditions change, so do men,
opinions and laws, and so should constitutions.
It is superstitious bigotry to hold that our revo-
lutionary forefathers were infallible and that
they could and did forsee the conditions that are
present in the opening years of the second cen-
tury after theirs.

On November isth, 1777, the thirteen
original colonies were banded together under
what was called the "Articles of Confedera-
tion." Article II thereof said in part: "Each
State retains its sovereignty, freedom and inde-
pendence." Article III said: "The said States
hereby severally enter into a firm league of
friendship with each other, for their mutual and
general welfare, binding themselves to assist
each other." In the following articles they



160 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

vested in the Congress full power to make such
rules and regulations as it deemed best for the
general welfare of all the people.

Now, if all of the industries and labor organ-
izations of the nation were to meet and agree to
do as did the thirteen States, each reserving the
right to send delegates to an empowered con-
vention, then that convention would have power
to pass such laws as were necessary to carry out
the remedies hereinbefore suggested.

If a constitution nearly a century and a half
old, which has already been amended seventeen
times, stands in the way of advancement and the
general welfare, would any man say that the ob-
stacle should not speedily be removed from that
constitution?

The solution herein suggested does not neces-
sarily require action by Congress, and therefore
an amendment to the constitution may not be
required. Nevertheless, a Congress could be
empowered to act, and if it were properly con-
stituted and contained business men and repre-
sentatives from all industries and labor organiza-
tions, instead of lawyers and politicians, it would
answer the very purpose. Perhaps in time the
people will learn what kind of men to send to
Congress. NATIONAL DIRECTION would
not necessarily require an immense industrial de-



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 161

partment of government. NATIONAL DI-
RECTION is not national ownership. It does
not embrace the idea of absolute control. It does
not place the management of the Trusts in the
hands of a department of government, or of a
Congress, for each industry should continue to
manage its own afifairs, since it alone can be thor-
oughly conversant with the details of its own
plant.

I have aimed to show:

1. That the Trust has as many virtues as faults.

2. That it can be so treated as to retain its vir-

tues and to eliminate its faults.

3. That the Trust must not be destroyed.

4. That the government must not own and op-

erate the Trust and Industrial Combina-
tions.

5. That NATIONAL DIRECTION is the

only scientific and practical solution.

The arguments herein are intended to show


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Online LibraryEugene V. (Eugene Valentine) BrewsterWhat's what in America → online text (page 8 of 12)