Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

were effective only under the non-competitive conditions of federal control. Most of these innovations brought satisfactory results while the war was in progress, especially in increasing traffic capacity. Most of them worked less satisfactorily in 1919 when the return of the roads to competitive conditions was in sight. Under the free play of competition the principles of unification have a much restricted application and in the majority of cases they are not regarded with favor either by the railroads or the public.

CHAPTER XX

POLITICAL INFLUENCE DURING

FEDERAL CONTROL

[ocr errors]

N concluding this review of the two years and two months of federal control of railroads it

is proper to suggest several questions which usually have a prominent place in any discussion of nationalization as a possible remedy of the railroad problem.

The first has to do with labor relations: did Government management show a tendency to make undue concessions to labor for political or partisan ends? Here it is difficult to distinguish between policies and actions dictated solely by emergency needs and those which in some degree may have been inspired by political motives. The Administration was committed by President Wilson to a definite policy of keeping labor contented. Director General McAdoo was confronted with an extremely serious situation. The relations between the railroad managers and their employees were badly strained. This tension had begun to manifest itself in an extreme way prior to the passage of the Adamson Act (in 1916). The ill-feeling then engendered had not materially improved up to the time when federal control began, and conditions at that time were most difficult. Railroad labor was then generally regarded as underpaid. The railroad managers were having trouble in holding their employees against the higher wage attractions elsewhere and stated that they could not pay enough to retain their workers. Various strike threats were in the air and the situation generally was one of extreme tension.

Under the President's policy of striving to keep labor contented it was necessary to grant wage rates and to concede working rules which under other conditions might be regarded as unreasonably favorable to organized labor. The main purpose of this sympathetic attitude of the Administration toward the aspirations of the leaders of railroad labor was undoubtedly to prevent disputes which would adversely affect transportation service during the war period and thus bring discredit upon federal management. At the same time it was perfectly natural that the Administration, with an eye to its perpetuation, would on the one hand do everything that properly could be done to foster friendly relations with labor, and on the other hand would avoid doing anything which would antagonize the labor vote. It is true that such criticism as may fairly be made of the Director General's policies apply to actions taken after the armistice was signed, yet on the whole, it is the writer's opinion that political motives did not have a dominating influence in labor relations. While there is much to support the view of many observers that the Administration did truckle to labor, there is little evidence that this policy was designed to serve political or partisan ends.

The second question is this: was Government management used to promote the political fortunes of the party or a party leader! Here again there is difficulty in differentiating between motives. The goal of the Administration was to surpass all records in transportation efficiency. А successful result would be to add directly to the effectiveness of our participation in the world war and to shorten its duration. Indirectly too, it would add to the prestige of the political party and the leaders then in power. While there were

. indications here and there that the Administration was not unmindful of the political fortunes of the party or its leaders, these considerations were kept in the background and had little or no effect on general policies. As a sidelight on this question, it is pertinent to call attention to the fact that political considerations had nothing whatever to do with the selection of the officers or employees of the Administration. The men were chosen solely on the ground of fitness. No questions were asked as to political affiliations. It was peculiarly a case where the office sought the man.

The third question has to do with the published statements pertaining to transportation achievements and financial results. Was there any tendency to color the operating statistics or to adjust or manipulate the figures in order to improve the showing? Was there any tendency to refrain from facing the real financial situation or to put off the day of reckoning?

So far as the statistics of physical operation were concerned, the Administration's policy was one of publishing and distributing the complete figures month by month in much greater detail than had ever before been attempted. Nothing was held back. The same is true as to the statements of financial results, with the one exception that during the closing months of the federal control period there was a disposition to minimize the extent of the actual deficit by ignoring the element of undermaintenance and other claims against the Government. During Mr. McAdoo's term of office there was a disposition to magnify the extent of savings made possible through unified control, and in the latter part of Mr. Hines' term of office there was a tendency to overdo in

explaining away” certain unfavorable features. It was natural enough that the Administration should desire to place the situation before the public in the best possible light. At times the coloring was carried to extremes, but there cannot be the slightest suspicion of deliberate manipulation with intent to deceive.*

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The fourth question bears upon rates and service. Did the railroad administration adjust or manipulate rates under pressure from individuals and localities, or improperly discriminate in rates or service against individuals or localities? It may be stated with assurance that no such improper discrimination was practised. Exception might be taken here and there in specific cases, as, for example, to the rate adjustments which fa

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

"The Railroad Administration has erred more frequently in over-statement than in under-achievement." The American Railroad Problem, I. L. Sharfman, p. 144.

« ПредишнаНапред »