Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/322

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306
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

studied and elaborate plans of organization that permit the greatest freedom of operation, while reducing to a minimum the opportunity for legal attack. Such devices, to the extent that they exceed the bounds required for proper self-protection, can not long stand before an increasing intelligence of their aims and methods. That same intelligence, acting through the media of courts and legislatures, must arrive at a more equitable solution of the problem of corporate rights and corporate aggression.

In the effort to extend to the greatest degree the sale of its products, a trust now and then has adopted other measures than the endeavor to place upon the market products of a quality and price that will insure the largest consumption. In certain localities it has, regardless of immediate loss, placed the selling prices of its product at a point so low that a competitor can not meet them without loss that, if continued, will drive him from the field. But it has happened that the resources of a competitor, or his facilities for production, have been such that he can successfully defy such an onslaught. In such a case a trust has sometimes adopted another method of attack by coercing merchants into desisting from the sale of the competitor's products under threat of using the influence of the trust to harass and embarrass them. Such methods, although sometimes apparently successful, often redound to the injury of the user, for one of the first steps of the object of the persecution is to enlist sympathy by giving publicity to his position. When, however, an industrial organization gives a merchant who agrees to sell its products to the exclusion of similar products of other manufacturers lower prices than if he also handled competitors' goods, it is simply acting upon the established principle of selling greater quantities at lower prices than lesser quantities. If these low prices yield a profit to the producer, and the products can be sold by the merchants at a lower price than similar products of competing producers, the result is that consumers are benefited by the reduced prices, and the profits of the merchants and manufacturers are increased by reason of the extended consumption.

An organization controlling the shipment of large quantities of material used in manufacture, or of a finished product, has oftentimes been able to obtain lower rates of transportation than its competitors because transportation companies have underbid each other in the desire to obtain the extensive traffic, and the advantage gained by means of the low rates has contributed to the exclusion of competition. Many of the States have established commissions to look into the administration of transportation companies, and the Interstate Commerce Act was the beginning of national action in the same field. And the State and national commissions are throwing light on the problems of trans-