« ForrigeFortsett »
which is proved by the facts as they appear in this record to have been so far beneficial to the community.” 1
'In Cote vs. Murphy et al. (1894), 159 Pa. St. 420, the court said: "The fixed theory of courts and legislators then was that the price of everything ought to be, and, in the absence of combination, necessarily would be, regulated by supply and demand. The first to deny the justice of this theory, and to break away from it was labor; and this was soon followed by the legislation already noticed, relieving workmen from the penalties of what for more than a century had been declared unlawful combinations or conspiracies. Wages, it was argued, should be fixed by the fair proportion labor had contributed to production; the market price, determined by supply and demand, might or might not be fair wages, often was not, and as long as workmen were not free, by combination, to insist on their right to fair wages, oppression by capital, or, which is the same thing, by their employers, followed. It is not our business to pass on the soundness of the theories which prompt the enactment of statutes. One thing, however, is clear: the moment the legislature relieves one, and by far the larger number of the citizens of the commonwealth from the common-law prohibitions against combinations to raise the price of labor, and by a combination the price was raised, down went the foundation on which the common-law conspiracy was based, as to that particular subject. Before any legislation on the question, it was held that a combination of workmen to raise the price of labor, or of employers to depress it, was unlawful, because such combinations interfered with the price, which would otherwise be regulated by supply and demand. This interference was in restraint of trade or business and prejudicial to the public at large. Such (a) combination made an artificial price. Workmen, by reason of the combination, were not willing to work for what, otherwise they would accept. Employers would not pay what otherwise they would consider fair wages. Supply and demand consist in the amount of labor for sale, and the needs of the employer who buys. If more men offered to sell labor than are needed, the price goes down, and the employer buys cheap. If fewer than required offer, the price goes up, and he buys dear. As every seller and buyer is free to bargain for himself, the price is regulated solely by supply and demand. On this reasoning was founded common-law conspiracy in this class of cases. But, in this case, the workmen, without regard to the supply of labor, or the demand for it, agreed upon what, in their judgment, is a fair price, and then combined in a demand for payment of that price. When refused, in pursuance of the combination they quit work, and agree not to work until the demand is conceded. Further, they agree, by lawful means, to prevent all others, not members of the combination, from going to work until the employers agree to pay the price fixed by the combination. And this, as long as no force was used, or menaces to person or property, they had a lawful right to do; and so far as is known to us, the rise demanded by them may have been a fair one. But it is nonsense to say that this was a price fixed by supply and demand. It was fixed by a combination of workmen on their combined
Enough has been said to satisfy the impartial reader that the drift is toward larger and larger coöperation, and that, too, despite attempts to legislate to the contrary.
Naturally manufacturers are timid about entering any form of association, for they cannot know at what moment they may be indicted as criminals. As a result more or less demoralization prevails in almost every industry, demoralization of prices, demoralization of methods. All the evils, all the unfair, oppressive and vicious practices of the old competition prevail.
The basic proposition of the Open-Price Association, namely, that men have the right to publish prices and make known all conditions surrounding business, is so far beyond debate or question that it is practically axiomatic; if they have that right it goes without saying they have the right to coöperate in any manner necessary to gather and publish the information.
Spreading of knowledge of facts and conditions is one of the enlightened efforts of the age. The theory is that if a man can be fully informed regarding all he has to contend with, he will be in a better position to get fair wages and fair prices.
The prime object of the Department of Agriculture is to enable farmers to get better crops and better prices. The
judgment as to its fairness; and, that the supply might not lessen it, they combined to prevent all other workmen in the market from accepting less. Then followed the combination of employers, not to lower the wages theretofore paid, but to resist the demand of a combination for an advance; not to resist an advance which would naturally follow a limited supply in the market, for the supply, so far as the workmen belonging to the combination were concerned, was, by combination, wholly withdrawn, and as to workmen other than members, to the extent of their power, they kept them out of the market. By artificial means the market supply was wholly cut off."
prime object of the Department of Commerce and Labor is to enable labor to get better terms and better wages.
It ought to be the object of some department to help manufacturers and dealers to get better returns for better products.
But so far the only solicitude betrayed by any department of the government regarding manufacturers and dealers is to force them to sell at the lowest prices under the most adverse conditions.
Class legislation and discrimination must go.
Since this chapter was written, Congress has passed section 6 of the Clayton Law, and the Supreme Court of the United States has held constitutional exemptions of labor, agricultural, and horticultural organizations from anti-trust statutes.1
1 International Harvester Co. of America vs. State of Missouri. For a very complete review of the decisions pro and con on this, see the briefs filed in that case and the authorities cited from the briefs in the report of the opinion, 234 U. S. Sup. Ct., Lawyers' Ed., pp. 197-202.
We are on the eve of great things.
For more than ten years the country has been tugging at the leash of legislation that hinders progress.1
The Sherman law is destructive in purpose and application. State "anti-trust" acts are framed to tear down and destroy-what?
Coöperative movements that are the logical, the inevitable results of economic conditions.
Law has so little meaning to most men they look upon it as a cure-all and give it in large doses for every ill, whereas of all remedies it is the most difficult to rightly adminis
"In my judgment, the present law against pools, trusts, and combinations is ineffective to protect the people against combinations of capital. The courts may dismember an organization, but they will hardly attempt to confiscate its property; so that, after dismemberment, the ownership and control will continue substantially as before. To permit combinations to exist, and at the same time secure to the people the natural and legitimate benefits of such combination, is a problem not yet solved. To forbid, as the law in question does, the existence of all combinations that lessen competition compels a halt in the natural march of industrial development, and deprives the people of the benefits which should result from improved business methods."-By Judge Ferriss, in State vs. International Harvester Co. of America, 237 Missouri 369.
Men are so perversely constituted they seem to prefer compulsion to coöperation; they call upon the state to compel them by law to do what they ought to do for themselves, to frame rules of conduct they should voluntarily devise for their own protection.
While it is true the rise of freedom is the development of law, it is also true that the history of the law is one long story of man's fight for liberty.
Which is but another way of saying that the rules of conduct which define and by defining, create-liberty, yield slowly and stubbornly to the irresistible forces of progress, thereby making law to appear a laggard in the march of events, but that is its value, for if it yielded to every passing impulse, every wave of opinion, it would not be law, but anarchy.
Is it not strange how men in all ages appeal to this conservative force to accomplish the most radical things— appeal to law to overturn law, pass laws to do things repugnant to the fundamental concepts of law?
Except for mischief, a law is of no effect unless it expresses what the people really want and what they believe to be fair and right.
This is a big country and does things in a big way; it is a rich country and it does things with the reckless prodigality of suddenly acquired wealth. Whatever we do is done on the scale of ninety millions of people and one hundred and thirty billions of riches.
We have grown so fast, made money so fast, that we are wasteful, extravagant, careless. We do things we ought not to do both in the making and in the spending. We have taken little thought of the morrow because the day is filled with such golden opportunities.