« AnteriorContinua »
of output or working efficiency. The are changing their attitude, but it is too worst effect of war-conditions and gov- late.' No, it is not too late, if the old ernment control has been to foster and tradition is sincerely, consciously, and fix the habit of restricted output and purposefully abandoned. Here lies the slack work. The blame for it rests pri- danger of reactionary employers, who marily on employers, and it was bad are the second obstacle. They will play enough before the war; but it is far worse into the hands of the theoretical systemnow, and more responsible for the ex- mongers, who will seek to undermine cessive cost of production, which has and break up good relations and proruined our market, than high wage- mote strife by every means in their rates. It is up to employers to cure it power. These are the third obstacle. by a large-minded — in effect a revo- But they will have little power, if the lutionary - change of attitude, which enlightened employers are sincere and will give wage-earners a new status, a steadfast, and if they deal firmly with new interest, and a new responsibility. their reactionary colleagues.
There are serious obstacles. The first This is the way things are moving is the old evil tradition. A typical dis- and will move, because they must. A contented but not revolutionary work- revolution is in progress, but a peaceful man said to me lately: 'The employers and practical one.
WHAT SHALL WE DO ABOUT COAL?
BY ARTHUR E. SUFFERN
The controversy between the sena- industry is necessary. Not until we see tors sponsoring legislation affecting the concretely the technical elements of the coal-industry and the National Coal problem and the importance of the inAssociation again calls attention to the ter-relationship between mining, transimperious nature of this question. If portation, and the consumption of coal, every voter in the United States had shall we have a sufficient general appreat one time or another visited a coal- ciation of the complications of the coalmine, we should be in a better position industry to formulate an intelligent to visualize some of the problems in the public policy. coal-industry. Such intimate acquaint- A strike of the miners demanding a ance with the conditions of the industry 30-hour week and earnings that will enwould make it easier to obtain a com- able them to live during the year seems prehensive treatment of the problem arbitrary and absurd to most people. before Congress. However, a know- But they dismiss the matter without inledge of the technical process of produc- quiring into the conditions that have tion will not be sufficient. An under- occasioned such demands. Those who standing of the inter-relationships of take the trouble to analyze the proball the important factors affecting the lem will find that the miners are at
VOL. 128-NO. 3
tempting to control, in a very inade- to cope with the over-expansion of minquate way, circumstances that properlying capacity. Various estimates place belong to the public. In fact, the min- this at from 19 to 33 per cent during ers seek to do the same thing we all do, the last five years. A proper balanthat is, use collective effort to control cing of mining capacity with our counforces and conditions too strong and ad- try's needs is necessary to the conservverse for the individual. In this case ation of our resources, to any attempt these forces and conditions are beyond to maintain steady production, to efforts the control of either the miners or the to relieve the railroads of unreasonable operators, or both combined.
demands upon their facilities, and to The industry has been idle on the the encouragement of improvements in average ninety-three working-days dur
technical processes. ing the year for the last thirty years. The stage of efficiency in technical This means that owners, miners, and process in the industry is said by proconsumers have been paying a heavy duction engineers to be on a par with bill for waste and inefficiency. We are an attempt to raise wheat by digging just beginning to catch a glimpse of the the soil with a spade. This is needless, waste through idleness of capital and because adequate mechanical equiplabor in all industries. The World War ment can easily be had. But the owners demonstrated to modern nations some who seek to provide such equipment of their latent possibilities when they and operate under different mining attempted to attain full productive methods are immediately faced by the power. And this proved important conditions established by the most solely in connection with the use of wasteful competitive exploitation. Such existing equipment. A consideration of equipment used in conjunction with the full productive power does not stop 'long-wall' system would force conservwith existing equipment. It takes into atism in opening mines, would involve account the fruits of new invention and longer waiting for returns on investbetter organization.
ment, and would necessitate a coördinaCoal-mining was one of the first of tion between the coal-industry, transthe basic industries to find out what it portation facilities, factory fuel-needs, meant to run to full capacity. It meant and household consumers' demands, glutted markets for coal. This was be which, as yet, is little appreciated. cause the industry was not properly or- Much criticism has been directed toganized, and coördinated with other in- ward the railroads in recent years, for dustries. Since competitive gain was their failure to furnish sufficient cars to the dominant motive, anybody who the mines. It may be readily granted owned coal-lands could open a mine and that there has been failure to make the produce coal for the market. The re- best use of car-equipment under all cirsult has been over-investment in peri- cumstances, both during the governods of prosperity, and a full productive ment administration and during pricapacity far beyond the needs of the vate control of the railroads. But a country. This factor, along with sea- more significant matter in relation to sonal demand and inadequate storage the transportation of coal is the legal refacilities, has made it impossible to quirements on the railroads for service. maintain continuity of production. No Another factor of equal importance is element in the problem is more impor- the physical impossibility of making tant than this. But no move (except in railroads keep pace with all the vagaries the anthracite field) has ever been made of investment, arbitrary operation of
mines, and the whims of the consuming To direct the expansion of mining public.
capacity, to change technical processes The railroads are compelled by law in production, to distribute and use to furnish cars to any concern opening railway facilities properly, to encourage a coal-mine which can easily be con- local storage and better distribution of nected by a switch. The more mines the supply, will require a form and dethere are to be served, the difficult gree of control over the industry as the problem of allotting the existing a whole which, as yet, has not been cars and meeting the demands of trans- considered seriously. Mere publicity portation. Consumers complicate the through investigation, record-keeping, situation still further by their seasonal and reports may be designated as the demand, and by promiscuous purchas- loosest form of control. In so far as it ing, which involves much cross-haul- would give an adequate factual foundaing. The Fuel Administration saved tion for considering conditions in the 160,000,000 car-miles a year by a zon- coal-industry, it would serve a useful ing system, and enabled the existing purpose. It will undoubtedly be folcar-equipment to make 300,000 addi- lowed by an attempt to deal with waste tional trips. To force railroad invest- and inefficiency. The greatest degree ment in car-equipment to keep pace of control is put forth by advocates of with the opening of an increasing num- ‘nationalization. They rest their case ber of unnecessary mines, is a decidedly on the assumption of the priority of the wasteful process. It is quite as waste- public welfare over all other interests. ful for consumers to insist upon a Furthermore, they found their procar-equipment to meet unreasonable
gramme upon what the best production demands.
engineers in many countries say we If the high prices for coal in the last should do in dealing with the industry few years shall make consumers more according to the best-known science at responsive to measures of relief over our command. It remains to be seen which they have control, a very useful whether a form of control in between purpose will have been served. It is these extremes can be had, and whether now known that coals most subject to it would enable us to conserve our redeterioration and spontaneous combus- sources and to reorganize the industry. tion can be stored successfully on a Some who are versed in constitutional large scale. Moreover, production en- law are of the opinion that a basis of gineers say that 10 to 15 cents per ton control could be obtained through a law is a liberal estimate of the cost of put- extending the Federal powers to license ting coal in and taking it out of stock, if businesses. The question may be the process is well organized and the raised, whether this power would prove best equipment is used.
effective enough to determine when new Storage at the point of consumption mines should be opened, to enforce the would immediately affect the continu- exploitation of the thick veins or the ity of production, relieve railroad con- thin veins, and the best grades or low gestion, and permit more efficient use grades of coal to suit our needs, to reof railway equipment. This practice, quire the recovery of the maximum persupplemented by a policy of buying centage of coal at the minimum of exearly,' would enable the whole process pense, to control technical processes and of distribution of local supply to be or- the use of equipment, to standardize ganized in a way to reduce the expense and enforce accounting, to regulate disto the minimum.
tribution, to standardize coal according
to quality, to deal with wages and con- have caught the meaning of the vision ditions of labor, and to provide for ade- of bringing three fourths of a million of quate coöperation between managers men out of underground work. Not and workers.
only would it mean the release of an imThe mere enumeration of these fac- mense labor-power that could be profittors forces the attention upon matters ably diverted to other employment, but with which we shall have to deal. A
proper organization and technical equipprocess of mining that leaves from 20 ment would give those remaining in to 50 per cent of the coal in the ground the industry better wages and workcannot long be condoned. Shoveling ing conditions. The vista of increasing600,000,000 tons of coal into mine-cars ly harmonious relationships between by hand, at a cost of 89 cents per ton, capital and labor in the industry would when it can be done by loading ma- be considerably widened by such a chines at a very small expense, is as development. primitive as digging the soil with a One thing is certain: we shall make a spade. To continue a method of mining choice in connection with the present by 'rooms' permits of little use of ma- problem. Either we shall seek adequate chinery, whereas the 'long-wall' sys- powers and procedure for regulation, or tem is favorable to the use of machin- we shall permit the waste and ineffiery and larger mine-cars, recovers the ciency to continue. But we shall ultimaximum percentage of coal, and is mately face conditions in both anthraconducive to safety in the industry. cite and bituminous fields which will
The investigations of the Federal compel a policy of regulation. Both Trade Commission and the Fuel Ad- wasteful, competitive exploitation and ministration into costs demonstrates concentration of ownership and mothat one of the best things that could nopoly will lead to the same result. Each happen to the coal-industry would be entails a consequence which will force an introduction to adequate and de- control in the interest of public welpendable record-keeping. The existing fare. If this is true, all parties concerned powers of regulation over transporta- owners, workers, railroads, manufaction could easily be extended to supple- turers, and household consumers ment a policy of conservation, and en- could do no better than
agree upon and courage localities to provide storage work for a plan of industrial control and regularize their demands. To con- founded upon adequate sovereign powtinue to permit the buying and selling ers and enforced through effective of coal without a classification accord- organization. ing to quality is to perpetuate a disad- It should be entirely reasonable to vantage both to the producer and to suggest that a nation depending increasthe consumer. Wherever commodities ingly upon power and industries for have been graded and standardized, the growth and progress should turn to the producer profits by the sale of a supe- use of technical equipment and organirior article, and the purchaser is pro- zation to conserve its resources. Moretected against misrepresentation. over, consumers depending altogether
In the case of coal, as in general with upon coal for power, warmth, and health all industries, the last factor in the in- will ultimately demand an effective badustry to receive careful consideration sis of control to meet these needs, reis the human one. The production en- gardless of the obstacles that may now gineers seem to be the only people who seem to hinder its attainment.
TAKING FROM THE FEW FOR THE MANY
BY RUSSELL ROBB
It is easy for the public to destroy there are fine houses, with owners who the value of private property; it is even want such things; but their value diseasy for the public to take property appears with the disappearance of the away from the individual; but it seems conditions that make enjoyment and extremely difficult for the public to use of such property possible. take property, or its value, away from Until the rise of Bolshevism and its individuals, and at the same time in- sympathizers and apologists, it seemed crease the public's possessions.
if only the most elemental minds One difficulty seems to be that the could imagine that anything was to be mere taking away so upsets confidence, gained by the public through such raw or the equilibrium of social organiza- confiscation as has happened in Russia; tion, that either the value of the thing but attempts have been made even in taken disappears or some new burden this country to destroy value or take or privation arises which quite offsets
away property by more indirect meththe value of the takings. It seems, in ods. Often it has been thought that other words, to change the conditions something could be gained for the many that produced the value of the proper- by taking away from the few; but the ty taken, and also the conditions that public benefit seems always to shrink produce new value for the public. far below the value that is taken from
In very bald confiscation it is seen that the individual, and usually both lose often very little value rests in things through the effort. by themselves. A thing has value only For a long time, for instance, the pubwhen there are joined with it the per- lic was deluded into thinking that anysons who are to enjoy and use it, and thing that could be taken away from also the conditions and opportunities the railroads, street-railroads, lighting that make enjoyment and use possible. companies, and other public-service
The loot of the mobs in Russia had corporations was pure gain for the pubgreat value while the old régime was in lic. They succeeded, it is true, in taking power, but the value depended prin- enormous value
from the utilities, cipally upon the old social conditions. but the value was not transferred to When the social condition changed, and the public; it was only destroyed. The the looting was a symptom and a result value that attached to these utilities of the change, many of the articles existed under conditions that induced taken immediately lost their value. It
owners to put new capital into them, was easy to take the objects, but noth- extend the use, and maintain the greating of value was added to the public est service. When the public attempted possessions. Ball-dresses have value to take value away from the owners by where there are balls, but are of little loading the properties with burdens use otherwise. Statuary, pictures, fine and by insisting upon prices that were furniture and hangings are valuable if less than worth and cost, the public