Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/604

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
582
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the last half-century right here in the United States, in what is scarcely more than the close of the first half-century of the railroad, a few phenomenal brains have amassed more of these values than their share, more than they can consume with their own personal wants—while I admit that the problem looks serious to those whose brains have not taken part in the struggle—the wrong seems to me one for which Nature, not art or science or schools, is at present mostly responsible, just as much as she is responsible for the lion that rends the ox, or the fox that pillages the farm-yard. The United States of America does not make treaties with individuals: and yet the treaty between the United States and the kingdom of Hawaii is, or was once, practically for the single benefit of one man. Why? Because there happens to be but one article of export from Hawaii to the United States; and because that one product happens, or happened, to be controlled by the brains and capital of one man. So this anomaly—this wrong, we suppose Mr. Hudson would call it—is to be charged to the crime of having brains, or to the domination of (not railways this time, but) sugar! Perhaps the situation can be made very clear to Mr. Hudson by a quotation from himself:

He says, page 1: "Watt could see in the steam which lifted the lid from the tea-kettle a force which might yield man some aid in his labors; but he could not foresee the immense application of that force to every phase of life. He could not dream of the millions of factories, the thousands of steamships, or the myriads of railway-trains that lay dormant in his discovery." And yet it is simply and solely because a human brain here and there did foresee what Mr. Hudson says Watt could not or did not—that massive fortunes, larger than an aggregate of thousands amassed by mere manual labor and economy, have been accumulated. Shall the owner of such a brain assume that Nature in so endowing him endowed him with a curse to his fellow-men, and that it is his natural or moral duty to devise a means of redistributing this accumulation to the two hundred thousand or hundred thousand millions who, like Watt, could not foresee? I do not so understand Mr. Hudson to urge; but perhaps he will be able to demonstrate to what other duty his satire on the men who, by building, buying, conyrolling and operating railways, amass vast properties, surely and implacably points.

The processes by which the fish with capital swallows the fish without capital—by which money attracts money, and foresight eclipses hindsight—stand possibly in bolder and nearer relief, just now, in the case of the three or five railway kings (whose fortunes may last another generation or two without division) than elsewhere. But, that they are processes unfamiliar in any given commercial undertaking or venture, I do not find any note in Mr. Hudson's indictment to assert. His indictment of railways and railway management is the constant and simple and single charge that they "dominate" the non-railway world