Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/668

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not already sufficiently high to cover the difference in the cost of labor, could easily be made so.

If the people of a State see fit to establish such a Board of Labor or Arbitration for the settlement of labor disputes, it is no more an infringement of their personal liberty than is the establishment of courts of law for the settlement of legal disputes. In both cases the restraint is self-imposed, and may be thrown off at will by disestablishment. The object of both tribunals is the same, namely, that of settling disputes by the judgment of a body of disinterested and fair-minded persons, instead of leaving the stronger to overcome the weaker by force, or of allowing the cunning to victimize the innocent or simple. The experience of centuries has proved the practical utility of courts so composed in settling legal disputes, and every civilized nation has adopted the principle in one form or another. But with respect to labor disputes we are still in a state of barbarism, in which force, fraud, and cunning are always triumphant, and the matter is settled without regard to the merits of the case. Would any one advocate a return to the personal liberty of early days, when barons held their sway and settled disputes by the sword? Yet strikes and lockouts are industrial warfare, and are as barbarous methods of settling labor disputes as the baron's sword was of settling legal disputes.

At present the public does not realize that it has a vital interest in settling labor disputes peaceably, and in providing some competent tribunal for that purpose. The public is good-natured and easy-going, but it will not require many more large strikes and lockouts to arouse its ire. Take the case of a strike or lockout on a railroad or street-car company. These are quasi-public corporations, created by the State for the convenience of the public. They are subject to the control of the public; but if a strike or lockout arises, the public may be inconvenienced for days, weeks, or months, simply because there is no tribunal with power to settle the dispute. As the public has the power to remedy this evil, it has only itself to blame for its continued existence.

Nor is the public's interest in settling labor disputes confined to railroading, but also extends to manufacturing, mining, and other businesses. The public is injuriously affected by any act which seriously interferes with the production or distribution of wealth. Strikes and lockouts undoubtedly not only interfere with the production and distribution of wealth, but they also endanger the public peace and security of life and property.

The strong argument of employers is that their business is a matter of private concern, and that therefore they have the right