« PreviousContinue »
ENAN has said that truth
Second, we say the matter really amounts to nothing, anyway. Third, we declare that we always believed it.
Two hundred years ago partnerships in business were very rare. A man in business simply made things and sold them and all the manufacturing was done by himself and his immediate family. Soon we find instances of brothers continuing the work the father had begun, as in the case of the Elzevirs and the Plantins, the great bookmakers of Holland. To meet this competition, four printers, in 1640, formed a partnership and pooled their efforts. A local writer by the name of Van Krugen denounced these four men, and made savage attacks on partnerships in general as wicked and illegal, and opposed to the best interests of the people. This view seems to have been quite general, for there was a law in Amsterdam forbidding all partnerships in business that were not licensed by the state. The legislature of the State of Missouri has recently made war on the department store in the same way, using the ancient Van Krugen argument as a reason, for there is no copyright on stupidity. In London in the seventeenth century men who were found guilty of pooling their efforts and dividing profits, were convicted by law and punished for "contumacy, contravention and connivance," and were given a taste of the stocks in the public square. When corporations were formed for the first time, only a few years ago, there was a fine burst of disapproval s The corporation was declared a scheme of oppression, a hungry octopus, a grinder of the individual. And to prove the case various instances of hardship were cited; and no doubt there was much suffering, for many people are never able to adjust themselves to new conditions without experiencing pain and regret. But we now believe that corporations came because they were required. Certain things the times demanded, and no one man, or two or three men could perform these tasks alonehence the corporation. The rise of England as a manufacturing nation began with the plan of the stock company. The aggregation known as the joint-stock company, everybody is willing now to admit, was absolutely necessary in order to secure the machinery, that is to say, the tools, the raw stock, the buildings, and to provide for the permanence of the venture. The railroad system of America has built up this country-on this thing of joint-stock companies and transportation, our prosperity has hinged. “Commerce, consists in carrying things from where they are plentiful to where they are needed,” says Emerson. There are ten combinations of capital in this country that control over six thousand miles of railroad each. These companies have taken in a large number of small lines; and many connecting lines of tracks have been built. Competition over vast sections of country has been practically obliterated, and this has been done so quietly that few people are aware of the change. Only one general result of this consolidation of management has been felt, and that it is better service at less expense. No captain of any great industrial enterprise dares now to say, “The public be damned,' even if he ever said it—which I much doubt. The pathway to success lies in serving the public, not in affronting it. In no other way is success possible, and this truth is so plain and patent that even very simple folk are able to recognize it. You can only help yourself by helping others. Thirty years ago, when P. T. Barnum said, “The public delights in being humbugged,” he knew that it was not true, for he never attempted to put the axiom in practice. He amused the public by telling it a lie, but P. T. Barnum never tried anything so risky as deception. Even when he lied we were not deceived; truth can be stated by indirection. “When my love tells me she is made of truth, I do believe her, though I know she lies.' Barnum always gave more than he advertised; and going over and over the same territory he continued to amuse and instruct the public for nearly forty years. This tendency to coöperate is seen in such
splendid features as the Saint Louis Union Station, for instance, where just twenty great railroad companies lay aside envy, prejudice, rivalry and whim, and use one terminal. If competition were really the life of trade, each railroad that enters Saint Louis would have a station of its own, and the public would be put to the worry, trouble, expense and endless delay of finding where it wanted to go and how to get there. As it is now, the entire aim and end of the scheme is to reduce friction, worry and expense, and give the public the greatest accommodation—the best possible service-to make travel easy and life secure. Servants in uniform meet you as you alight, and answer your every question-speeding you courteously and kindly on your way. There are women to take care of women, and nurses to take care of children, and wheel chairs for such as may be infirm or lame. The intent is to serve--not to pull you this way and that, and sell you a ticket over a certain road. You are free to choose your route and you are free to utilize as your own this great institution that cost a million dollars, and that requires the presence of two hundred people