Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/21

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11
AN ECONOMIC STUDY OF MEXICO.

the number of votes, and not simply with the value of the argument by which those votes have been influenced. Each year's failure to adopt any measure of national control probably increases the number of votes which would be cast in favor of government ownership.

It can not be denied that government ownership furnishes the best theoretical solution of the railroad problem, if we could only assume that the Government were possessed of infinite wisdom and virtue. But practically this condition is far from being realized in the United States. The question is a practical rather than a theoretical one. In countries like Germany, where the civil service represents the best elements of the nation, state railroads have been a success, simply because of that fact. Whatever system will give you the best administrative talent is likely to prove most successful. But it would be a bold thing to say that the best administrative talent of the United States found its way into the civil service, or was likely to do so for the present.

A state railroad system may be relied upon to do one thing—to check local discrimination. But this is not due so much to any considerations of public policy as to the complete monopoly which takes away all inducements to discriminate. Where a state road comes into conflict with private roads, it makes discriminations of the worst form. Where it has a monopoly, there is danger that it will avoid them by leveling up. The Italian investigating commission of 1878, after a careful comparison of the actual experience of different countries, came to the conclusion that state railroads did not, as a rule, do so much for industry as private railroads; that in general their rates were higher, their facilities worse, their responsibility less; that the state railroad management was more apt to tax business than to foster it; while political considerations were brought into matters of railroad construction and management in a way which was disastrous alike to railroads and to politics. It may be that these conclusions were in some respects overdrawn; but they are sufficient to show the wide difference between the popular ideal of state railroad management and the reality as seen in actual practice.


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AN ECONOMIC STUDY OF MEXICO.

By Hon. DAVID A. WELLS.

II.

THE Spanish rule over Mexico lasted for just three hundred years, or from 1521 to 1821; and, during the whole of this long period, the open and avowed policy of Spain was, to regard the country as an instrumentality for the promotion of her own interests and aggrandizement exclusively, and to utterly and contemptuously disregard the de-