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up to a high pitch of excitement on this question in Iowa, the Chicago jobbers held a meeting in Chicago and united with the Iowa men in denouncing the unjust discrimination practiced by the railroads for the benefit of Iowa jobbers and demanded that the rates should be uniform to jobbers and retailers. The freight agents have acquiesced in the demand that seemed sanctioned by public opinion in both States, and the result is the jobber in Iowa loses the concession of rates and competes with the Chicago merchant at that disadvantage. The retailer gains nothing, we presume he loses uothing. If the jobbing trade in the State can be successfully carried on without all the benefits of rates, the margins on the business are larger than we had supposed. The railway companies are not to be blamed when their concessions to a growing trade in this State meets the public condemnation if they withdraw them, but this is not all. In proportion as you dwarf the wholesale trade, it will be found that the manufacturer has followed the railway, and in dealing with the western man he refuses him the lower figure and gives it to the jobber at the great trade centers. An illustration may serve to make this clear. The writer recently purchased a bill of American plateglass, of a Chicago firm delivered in Iowa at 21 per cent below the figures the manufacturers would furnish the same glass to their Iowa agent on board cars in St. Louis. From the best information we have been able to gather, this is not an exception to a general rule, and the situation has been forced by the unwise and thoughtless clamorings of men who had no real interest in the question, and whose only object seemed to be to give themselves a little notoriety.
Yielding to what seemed the popular sentiment of our State, the general freight agents of the trunk lines discussed this matter in their meetings and in the railway journals, and most of them acceded to the proposition that the consumption of goods in the State could not be increased by any concession of rates to jobbers, and that it must be refused.
One agent held this position, that by lower rates to jobbers in the past they had helped to build up a trade that depended largely for its profits on the difference of rates, and they could not in justice to the parties in interest deliberately destroy the business. Senator James F. Wilson, who will not be accused of borrowing his views on the transportation question from the railway manager, years ago illustrated the lack of business sense and justice in railway management in this State by a case in his own town of Fairfield, where a large jobbing house had been established, and for some years been in successful operation, but was compelled to close its business and remove to one of the great trade centers because the general freight agents of two roads decided that Farfield was not a suitable point to be entitled to jobbing rates. He thought they had no right after having by differential rates built up a business by a mere arbitrary act to make it impossible for it to cor-inue.
GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE WHOLESALE AND RETAIL QUESTION AS APPLICABLE TO THE QUESTION OF
As has been stated above, the decision of the Commissioners in the Merrill & Keeney case, as found in the Report of 1883, page 675, has attracted much attention and evoked considerable criticism.
The question discussed in that case was whether, under the law of the State, the car load was the unit of transportation, and the majority of the Board, as then constituted, held that under the law it was not the unit of transportation, and that the action of the companies by which special rates were furnished to jobbers and wholesale dealers was commendable and necessary to protect the jobbing interests of the State, the value of such interests being estimated at the amount of fifty million dollars. That the only effect of an interference would be to increase the rate to jobbers, and not to decrease the rate to retail dealers.
The minority dissenting from the above views of the majority held that to make the car load the unit of transportation was a proper and just limitation; that shipments by car-load lots should have the same rates, without reference to the number of cars shipped; and that the car load should be the unit for transportation purposes. This is a question of the proper construction of the law, and must be finally determined by some authoritative construction of section eleven (11) of the Commissioner Law. By its plain terms “all concessions of rates, drawbacks, and contracts for special rates shall be open to and allowed all persons, companies, and corporations, alike, at the same rate per ton per mile by car load, upon like conditions and under similar circumstances, unless by reason of the extra cost of transportation per car load from a different point, the same would be unreasonable and inequitable.”
An analysis of this language shows: that concessions of rates are permitted; that drawbacks are permitted; that contracts for special rates are permitted. The limitations upon the permission are as follows: concessions of rates, drawbacks and contracts for special rates are to be open to and allowed to all persons; to all companies; to all corporations, alike, at the same rate per ton per mile, by car load, upon like conditions and under similar circumstances.
The use of the term “by car load,” in conjunction with the terms "per ton per mile,” refers to car-load rates per distance drawn.
The question would be easily decided in favor of the car load as the unit for transportation, but for the limiting words added, “upon like conditions and similar circumstances.” The words used by the legislature clearly indicate that conditions may be unlike, and circumstances dissimilar, and when so, the rule of section eleven (11) does not apply.
Again, the limiting words “like conditions and similar circumstances” operate upon and limit the car load, and the proposition and rule inay be fairly stated as follows: car-load rates, adjusted by the ton per mile, must be given alike to all persons, companies, or corporations, if the circumstances and conditions are similar.
But we find that the circumstances and conditions being similar, still the legislature mentions a special circumstance which renders the rule inoperative; that shipments for the same distance from different points shall not be compared and made absolutely equal on account of equal distance alone, when it would cost more to transport the goods on one route than the other. The words are,
runless by reason of the extra cost of transportation per car load from a different point, the same would be unreasonable and inequitable," and then a fair general rule is laid down, namely, that railroad companies “shall charge no more for transporting freight from any point on its line than a fair and just proportion of the price it charges for the same kind of freight transported from any other point.” It would seem impossible to hold, under such a law, that any variance whatever from a uniform car-load rate was in violation of the law., The above analysis, we think, demonstrates the impossibility. If every
word in the section be given its fair and reasonable meaning, while it might be asserted that car-load rates should be uniform under the law, yet it is clearly shown that this rule might and should be varied by unlike conditions, by dissimilar circumstances, and even in the case of equal distances and similar freight, by extra cost of transportation, when on a different line or a different part of the same line. It does not seem possible to doubt as to the rule established by the law of this State. It cannot be successfully maintained that in Iowa the absolute, uniform, unvarying, unit of transportation is the car load.
Section 13 of the law, in referring to former sections, including section 11, uses the following language: “Any railroad corporation which shall violate any of the provisions of this act as to extortion or unjust discrimination shall forfeit for every such offense, etc." Here we have the key note of the whole act. It is an offense against the law for any railroad company to be guilty of extortion. It is equally an offense against the law for any railroad company to be guilty of unjust discrimination. It is unjust discrimination that is prohibited, and for it penalties are provided. The use of the limiting word “unjust” clearly implies that all discrimination is not prohibited and its exercise punished, and that in the view of the General Assembly all discrimination is not unjust. It would be strange if it
Discrimination is that act of the judgment which marks and notes the distinctions and differences between things. The fine and cultured judgment notes truly the difference, and so, justly discriminates. The unskilled and coarse judgment makes differences and distinctions where none really exist, and so, unjustly discriminates. In the use of the term with reference to transportation the word may be treated as synonymous with classification. In the Merrill & Keeney case the question was whether Merrill & Keeney were unjustly discriminated against in being classified as retail dealers. The other question discussed, namely: whether the principle of wholesale and retail dealing which runs through all other business transactions, must fail to operate in transactions relating to transportation, seems hardly a question in the case in the light of the law and its analysis above made. The question remains whether as a matter of right, aside from legal requirements, the principle of wholesale and retail should not be applied to transportation as well as to all other business transactions. The burden of proof should be upon those who seek to engraft upon a universal rule so marked an exception, Such an engrafting, if successful, would undoubtedly revolutionize all past and present methods of doing business by persons engaged in transportation. Excursion and mileage tickets would be a thing of the past. Prices would be ail arranged upon one dead level, either the car load or the pound, and we can conceive of no reason why, under such a system, any halt should be made at any other point than the pound weight. All classification would go by the board. The pound of soap, starch, feathers, sand, rock, ore, or gold, would alike be a pound, to be paid for at a fixed rate. Competition would have no place in such a system, for the inexorable pound or car load would be ever present, demanding transportation at its fixed and reasonable rate per mile. Places and stations would some be moved nearer, some farther from market. The remote places on our western bor. der would probably be so far removed from the present market as to be inaccessible. All the cities and centers of commercial enterprise would probably be found wrongly located, and centralization would give place to general diffusion. No town or trading point would or could have any advantage over another, for each place alike would be accessible only to the few miles included within the radii of its distance possibilities. Articles which would not bear long transportation would be consumed at home; the surplus would be unmarketable. Great scarcity as to some articles, great abundance as to others, would be the rule. Commerce would languish, and would likely dwindle to very small proportions. The jobbers and wholesale dealers would disappear from sheer inability to carry on their business. Retail dealers would stand all upon one footing, the pound and car load footing. The business of transportation would dwindle in its proportions, because carriers could offer no inducements or stimulants. The facilities for transportation which we have now would be sufficient for present and probably for all time to come. ple would tend toward provincialism and cease to be national. Like mountaineers, men would live, trade, barter, and die in sight of birthplace, and gather within a fixed area all that was within reach for their wants. Other wants would go unsupplied. Undoubtedly such a system would lead to a simpler, less complex, civilization than the present, but according to all modern ideas of progress it would seem to be a backward step.