Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

directed chiefly toward forcing lower prices. These were attempted through regulation of the car-supply by priority orders favoring coal-movements. One priority order alone, however, which in effect permitted the abrogation of contracts with dock operators in the northwest, if, in fact, it did not force that abrogation, resulted in adding approximately $13,000,000 to the fuelbill of that section, without getting a pound more coal moved into the territory than would have moved without the orders. Other priority orders, intended to make possible greater production, resulted in a dispersion of available equipment to an extent which militated against the object in view.

As to control by the Government in other industries, the railroads and the merchant marine are eloquent of what waste is possible and actual under such direction. Not only was there an actual loss of millions of dollars during federal operation of the roads, but the loyalty of the railroad men was squandered to an almost irremediable extent. Recent figures given out by the present head of the Shipping Board show that the loss in that venture alone ran higher than $1,000,000 daily during the last fiscal year of operation.

Nor is this condition one that is due to questionable motives or willful intent. Government control lacks that personal interest which nature has decreed must underlie conservation. There is a lack of centralization of responsibility that no idealism of good intent can offset. Delegation of authority and responsibility carries with it a cost which prohibits conservation as it fosters waste. In New Zealand, where government operation of mining in the coal-industry has been tried, it has been found that production costs were higher and labor troubles greater and more frequent than under private operation. The experiment has resulted in less,

rather than more, conservation of both money and good-will.

That control is necessary before conservation can be accomplished is evident, since conservation means control. May we suggest that that control can best be effected by increasing industry control, rather than lessening it through the introduction of government control? Railroad heads to-day are confronted by the evils of divided authority as the result of a paternalistic attitude on the part of Government. They are much in the state in which Browning's Saul found himself, — ‘death gone, life not come,' - unable to put into effect those economies that are essential if railroad transportation is to recover from its present chaotic condition. Is it not reasonable to believe that an extension of control over coal to government agencies would have a similar result in this industry?

The history of what is commonly called 'big business' has been marked by a degree of conservation that has not been found in other forms of industrial arrangement. Whether we take the packing industry, the steel industry, or the petroleum industry, the gathering of control into a few hands has made possible a saving and elimination of waste that never could have existed, and did not exist, under open competition between hundreds and thousands of small firms and individuals. 'Big business' not only has adopted modern methods of production, accounting, marketing, and 'labor-adjusting,' but has developed raw natural resources to the highest degree, bringing forth by-products in profusion out of what under former management had been waste. Through maximum production, which this control fostered, prices have been frequently lowered as compared with prices under competitive conditions. Monopoly, with all it is frequently said to imply, has been a benefactor

to the public as well as to the industry ties of evils and dangers; but it is to be in which it is born.

In the coal-mining industry such a monopoly would have even greater possibilities for good than in most other industries. Present overdevelopment in coal lands has resulted in wasteful dispersion of railroad equipment, increasing the cost of transportation of fuel, and, in times of emergency, cutting down the potential haulage of the roads. Were the coal lands of the country in the hands of a comparatively few well-financed corporations, new lands would be held in reserve while old ones were being developed along modern scientific lines. Without the struggle that now is frequently necessary in the attempt to meet necessary overhead expenses, it would be possible to install permanent equipment needed for economic mining; the operator would know that he could depreciate that equipment on a producing-time, rather than on a largely idle-time, basis, and would not feel the necessity to recover his investment in a year or two.

Such control would also tend to minimize the waste in man-power that accompanies present methods. Introduction of modern machinery would be one factor; but the elimination of hundreds of mines from operation would in itself release thousands of men from the industry for other employment, and at the same time tend to increase the annual working time of those who remained. Conservation would be accomplished also in the selling end of the industry, since duplication of merchandizing forces would be unnecessary.

It is true that, as in other industries, such concentration in a small circle of control of the vast coal resources of the country would carry with it possibili

doubted whether these would be as great, from the public's standpoint, as would the waste and inadequacy of government control. The public has not forgotten that heatless days and lightless nights were never known outside of federal control of coal, and that they happened then even after warinconveniences were past. It may have forgotten that it was government interference that gave the union miners a wage-rate which is largely responsible for the present high price of fuel; and that it was government operation of the railroads which brought about freightrates on coal that are the other real factor in present coal prices. It finds it possible under monopolistic conditions in the petroleum field to buy gasoline at a satisfactory price and with satisfactory service. It has voiced its sentiments in favor of private control of private business, and it stands ready, we believe, to back that expression, if need be, by revoking its presidential choice of 1920 if the present administration fails to deliver on its pledge.

a

The Government has been far more successful in coping with the evils of private monopolistic tendencies than it has been in attempts at direct control of an industry. In those fields where a few well-financed firms have gained control of the output, as in Franklin County, Illinois, for instance, stability of policy tending toward efficiency is to be noted, as well as a stability of price in what may be called runaway markets. Is it not reasonable to suggest that an expansion of this control, rather than that of Government, may in the end prove the solution of the problem, and result in a real conservation of coal?

THE CONTRIBUTORS' CLUB

MY WIFE'S ADDRESS-BOOK

I WONDER Whether other women's address-books are like Cynthia's. Hers defies definition: it cannot be indexed or codified, but must be interpreted by its amazing creator. To give an idea of the system by which it has been compiled I must quote a specific instance.

The other day a lady who was calling on my wife inquired whether she could recommend a good laundress.

'Oh, certainly!' cried the practical Cynthia, 'I always keep the names and addresses of everyone who can possibly be useful to anyone. Algernon,' she called out to me as I was trying to read the paper in the next room, ‘just look in my book of Social and Domestic Emergencies and tell me Nora Mahoney's address. It is something River Street.'

Obediently I took up the little red book with its alphabetical pages, and turning to the M's, ran my finger down the list, encountering on the way an alien group of P's who had somehow strayed into the wrong fold. There was no Mahoney among them. But I knew some of my wife's mental processes, and, nothing daunted, I turned to the N's, remembering that Cynthia had once dropped the remark that very few of the people she had ever employed seemed to have last names. There was no Nora among the Nightwatchmen, the Nurses, the Nellys, and the Neds. 'Is your name M or N?' I murmured as I abandoned both initials and turned to L for Laundress. Again I was thwarted, but my hunting-blood was stirred, and I feverishly, but vainly, sought the needle of a Nora in the haystack of Hired Help.

'Don't you find it, dear?' inquired Cynthia with a note of gentle surprise. 'Perhaps you had better let me look. You can never seem to learn my system of registration.'

When the mystic volume was in her hands, she appeared to go into a trance, and with eyes closed muttered, 'Let me see now, would it be under W for Washerwoman? No. Perhaps it might be under G for General Housework — don't you remember, Algernon, how cleverly Nora was always able to do things that we did n't want her to do? Here are the G's, - let me see, Gasman, Gymnasium teacher, Mrs. Gordon, Glove Cleansing, Miss Grant, Oh. here we are! General Housework! Oh, no, that is n't Housework, it's General Houston - don't you remember that delightful man with the military moustache we met in Virginia? He gave me his card, and I just jotted his name down in my address-book. I put him among the G's because I knew that though I might forget his name, I should never forget that he was a General; so here he is, just where he belongs only, where is Nora?'

She knit her brow for an instant and then unraveled it hastily. Now I remember! How stupid of me to forget the workings of my own mind! I always used to think that Nora's name was Agnes, - it's so exactly the same kind of a name, and I probably put her down under A, thinking that is where I should look for her. Oh, yes, here she is!' she called to her patiently waiting friend. 'She leads off the A's, like Abou Ben Adhem. Nora Mahoney, 18 Brook Street - just what I told you, except that I thought it was River Street.'

A few days after this episode I tried to get Cynthia really to explain her address-book to me so that I might be able to assist others, or myself, in some domestic crisis, if she were away or ill; but she found me very literal and thickwitted.

'You see,' she interpreted, if a person has a very marked characteristic that distinguishes him more than his name, of course I put him down under the initial of his idiosyncrasy. For instance, there's that deaf old upholsterer that Aunt Eliza told me about, who comes to the house and does n't hear the awful noise he makes when he hammers. He is entered under D for Deaf Upholsterer, because the image that is flashed into my mind when the chairs need recovering is of a deaf man- the fact that his name is Rosenburg is of minor importance.'

'But you have such a confusing way of mixing names and profession,' I objected. For instance, those delightful English people who were so good to us in London, Sir James and Lady Taylor, would be flattered if they could see that right on the heels of Lady Taylor follows, "Ladies' Tailor, seventy-five dollars and not very good!" Then here under M is Mason, A. P., such and such a street. That of course is our old friend Miss Anna, but right under her name is Mason, A, with some business address following.'

'Oh, but A is n't an initial in that case,' cried Cynthia. 'A is just A, you know, a mason whose name I don't remember but who was highly recommended by the carpenter that time when the bricks fell out of the chimney! Really, Algernon, you don't seem to be using your mind.'

I was still doggedly turning over the pages, and hardly listened to her. 'Now look here,' I triumphantly exclaimed, 'can you give me any logical reason why under the letter F, I should find

Mrs. Charles B. Redmond, 32 Pineland Road?'

'Why, of course I can!' Cynthia informed me without an instant's hesitation. 'Mrs. Charles Redmond was Fanny Flemming before she was married, and people always speak of her by her maiden name, on account of the alliteration, so I put her down under the initial that brings her to my mind, but of course using the names she is called by. Don't you see?'

I saw, but there were still unplumbed depths of mystery.

'Can you tell me, please,' I asked humbly, 'why there should be flowery beds of E's among the O's, and why a little oasis of blossoms beginning with B should be blooming among the weedy W's? I'm sure there is some perfectly good feminine reason, but-'

'Ah, there there is some excuse for you!' Cynthia acknowledged; 'but surely even you must always associate certain letters together for no apparent reason. For instance, perhaps you may have forgotten a name, but you are certain that it begins with a T. Later you remember the name and find that it does n't begin with a T at all, but with an L. Of course, there is some psychological reason why those two letters are associated together in your mind. Now to me, B and W are practically interchangeable, so I have put Mrs. Blake and the Burlingtons and old Miss Bosworth in with the W's, and the Wilkinsons and the Warners are among the B's. It really helps me very much to have them like that, but I can see that it would be confusing to people who had different group associations.'

I closed the little red volume abruptly. 'Oh, well, if your address-book is simply an Intelligence Test - 'I began.

But Cynthia interrupted me. 'It is n't an Intelligence Test, it's an Intelligence Office,' she gently explained.

'Well, it's no use, I can't understand

it,' I confessed. 'Your addresses are as safe from me as if they were written in Sanscrit instead of ciphers, and were locked into a safety deposit vault. I have no key that fits, and I don't know the combination.'

'That's because you 're a man,' my wife pityingly explained. "There is n't a woman of my acquaintance who does n't do her address-book-keeping on this general plan, but the word that opens the combination is one that no man will ever understand.'

"Thank Heaven there are still the Telephone Book and the Social Register,' I cried, stung by the tone of superiority in Cynthia's voice.

But her last word was yet to be spoken. 'If ever you want to look up your own name in my address-book,' she said very sweetly, 'remember the Parable of the Deaf Upholsterer, and look under S.'

FAMILY PRAYERS

If, as one of the younger generation has remarked, 'Religion is the spiritual stream in which we are all floating or swimming or struggling or sinking,' I can only observe that the temperature of the stream is pleasantly tepid in these days, and that it wanders languidly through a flat and uneventful country. It has come a long way from the icy mountain streams and blue lakes that were its source. Back in my boyhood days, in Brierly, it flowed more swiftly, and the water was colder. Some courage was required to plunge into it, and some agility and skill to keep one's head above the current.

I am reminded of a recent statement made, one Sunday morning, by my sister Tryphena, to the effect that in her youth little boys did not play marbles on the Sabbath; and of the crisp note in the voice of my brother Edward's youngest son-aged seven - as

he stood on tiptoe to reach his bag of marbles from the playroom shelf, and answered: 'Well, Aunt Tryphena, you see things have changed.'

True. Things have changed. Edward is a good, Christian father, and he goes to church every Sunday morning, when it is too warm or too cold or too wet on the links. He does his duty by his children, but I can't imagine him kneeling down by Jack and praying, with tears in his eyes, for light and strength and guidance for them both, and then supplementing prayer with a hickory switch, the way father did when John, who was twelve at the time, and a member of the church, profaned the Sabbath and outraged all Brierly traditions by wearing his new baseball suit on Sunday morning.

Of course, it was a particularly vivid suit. The trousers were red-and-white striped, and the jacket blue with white stars. And John, who knew only too well the result if he were caught in such a costume on the seventh day, climbed out of the window of his room and down over the woodshed roof, to show himself to Frances and Caroline, who were washing breakfast dishes in the kitchen. But one of the neighbors saw him, and strolled over to the front gate to chat with father; and father appeared at the woodshed door- an avenging Nemesis, with the hickory switch in his hand

Yes, things have changed. There is still plenty of religion abroad in the land, but the faith that most of us hold nowadays is a milder, more comfortable variety than the sort that permeated Brierly when we were growing up. It seems to consist mainly of a vague optimism, combined with a gentle tolerance of all differing creeds that might be mistaken, by a skeptic, for indifference.

We were n't gently tolerant of other

« ZurückWeiter »