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9. An advertisement reads: “This is the best household
flour because it is the best for all baking purposes." 10. The State should grant pensions to widowed mothers;
because sixteen States are now doing this. 11. An honest man is the noblest work of God. Mr. A is an
honest man; therefore, he is the noblest work of God. 12. The industrial depression in America after the World
War was due to the Democratic administration; because this depression followed immediately after this
administration. 13. In reply to the gentleman's arguments, I need only say
that two years ago he advocated the very measure which
he now opposes. 14. To allow every man an unbounded freedom of speech
must always be, on the whole, advantageous to the State; for it is highly conducive to the interests of the community that each individual should enjoy a liberty
perfectly unlimited of expressing his sentiments. 15. No institution of higher learning in the United States
enjoys a higher scholastic reputation than Harvard. This graduate of Harvard, therefore, must be a profound student.
MATERIAL FOR EXERCISES
The following three speeches represent the Affirmative case in the intercollegiate debate of the year 1918, on the proposition:
Resolved : That, within twenty-one months after the declaration of peace, Congress shall provide by legislation for permanent government ownership and operation of the railroads in the United States. 1
The war has brought us face to face with many serious problems of internal policy, but none of these is more vital to the nation as a whole and to every individual within it than the problem involved in the question: What shall we do with the railroads ? On the solution of this problem depends the life and welfare of us all. To all of us, therefore, it is essential that the railroads shall be maintained upon a basis that will guarantee to the highest degree, adequate, efficient, and uninterrupted service.
To any one who is familiar with railroad history, however, it has become more and more apparent year by year that the railroads cannot guarantee adequate, efficient, and uninterrupted service. Early in their history, without any government regulation, the railroads grew like mushrooms, and by a system of cut-throat competition, eventually threatened to bring about their own extermination. For them to guarantee adequate, efficient, and uninterrupted service was, therefore, impossible.
1 Case of Dartmouth College debaters in Dartmouth-Colgate debate of 1918,
Following this first period, there came another period involving government regulation which has proved equally vain in the attempt to guarantee these requisites. Under regulation, the railroads have found it harder and harder to make both ends meet, and they have lost the prime requisite to success in any enterprise: namely, — business initiative. The result is well known. One after another, many of the roads have gone into bankruptcy, and their properties have deteriorated. They have been unable to cope with labor; they have failed to meet the transportation needs of the country; and finally, they have collapsed completely under the burden that was placed upon them in 1917. Within less than two years, we have seen again, therefore, that the railroads cannot guarantee adequate, efficient, and uninterrupted service.
From sheer necessity, the government took over the control of the railroads in order that their inefficiency under private management might not involve the country in ruin and defeat during the greatest crisis of history. To date, therefore, we find the railroads under a system of government control, which can guarantee adequate, efficient, and uninterrupted service, and which differs from a system of government ownership only in the fact that the government has not yet assumed title to the roads.
The present condition cannot continue, however, for it was created only as a temporary expedient. Either the railroads must be returned to their private owners, or they must be taken over permanently by the government. With this necessity before us, therefore, to solve the problem in the one way or the other, the Affirmative proposes that, within twenty-one months after the declaration of peace, Congress shall provide by legislation for permanent government ownership and operation of the railroads in the United States. By this proposal, we mean simply that the government shall take over the title to the railroads, and continue to operate them under a system essentially similar to that under which they are now being operated. This means that the awkwardness, the rigidity, the tardiness, and the irresponsibility of all methods of regulation will be abolished, and that, in their place, will be substituted the direct centralized, responsible control of the government alone.
In advocating this solution of the problem, we shall base our case on three main points, as follows: I. Private ownership of the railroads with government regu
lation has proved a failure. II. Government ownership is the only alternative for the coun
try in controlling the railroads. III. Government ownership will meet the vital transportation
needs of the country. For my own part, I shall endeavor to prove that private ownership of the railroads with government regulation has proved a failure, for: First, under private ownership with government regulation, the railroads have failed to meet the vital transportation needs of the country; and, second, under private ownership with government regulation, the railroads cannot meet the vital transportation needs of the country.
First, let me show you that the railroads have failed to meet the vital transportation needs of the country. According to the statement of an Interstate Commerce Commissioner, the railroads, for years, have failed to handle satisfactorily the peak load, or maximum load, that is put upon them during certain seasons. Not in one year, only, have they failed; but they have failed through a period of years. Their most outstanding failure, however, occurred in the year 1917. Then they failed to prevent congestion and car-shortages so that industry and commerce were almost paralyzed; and then they failed to move coal and foodstuffs so that both their country and our allies were seriously threatened. They failed to such an extent that every terminal east of the Mississippi and north of the Potomac was choked with idle freight-cars. Because 150,000 freightcars remained unloaded at terminals, the railroads could not provide facilities for an equal amount of traffic that was waiting to be loaded. Such a failure in a time of need may, without exaggeration, be termed a collapse.
The railroads failed to meet the demands of traffic, and they failed to maintain proper facilities for handling traffic. They failed to maintain their rolling-stock, and to provide adequate or modern repair shops and freight terminals. In the years just prior to the great collapse, they annually junked more locomotives and more cars of all descriptions than they added to their stock. They failed to build repair shops or round-houses to accommodate modern engines, and the result was that 175 engines on two roads alone were put out of commission by the freezing and bursting of their pipes while they were left out on the tracks awaiting repairs. The railroads failed to provide proper repair shops and they also failed to provide proper freight terminals. An instance of this failure is to be found in New York, where the New York Central did nothing, according to its directors, for forty years to develop its freight terminal.
The railroads, however, have not only failed in these many ways, but they have failed also to prevent repeated labor troubles from threatening suspension of traffic. In March, 1910, labor troubles threatened to tie up 110,000 miles of railroad, and in December of the same year they threatened to tie up 150,000 miles of road. In 1913 the railroad brotherhoods threatened to tie up the whole country; and again, in 1917, when we were on the verge of war, the brotherhoods declared their purpose to be to call a general strike. During all these troubles the railroads under private ownership were unable alone to cope with the situation.
In view of these many failures, I think I have proved that the railroads have failed to meet the vital transportation needs of the country. Now, let me prove that they cannot meet the vital transportation needs of the country. They cannot meet these needs, because an alarming number of railroads have gone into bankruptcy or are operating on a non-paying basis. In 1916, 76,000 miles of railroads, or 26 per cent of the total mile