Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/187

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183
OUR FOREST WEALTH

administration for the public good. That the first has achieved victories, belted continents, surmounted Alps, tunneled mountains and worked miracles let us concede. Nevertheless, it has its limitations. That this is true, experience, with its insurance investigations, rate bills, meat inspection, pure-food legislation and the like, is daily making clear. In the field of forest administration and exploitation—notably when the forests in question control important river sources—the limits of laissez faire were long since, and after fearful public loss, recognized in Europe.

In such a case, the individual initiative principle works directly counter to the public good. Private interest impels the doing of almost all the mischievous things above enumerated: clearing slopes for farming,

PSM V73 D187 Ruins of a brick house caused by the freshet of may 21 1901.png

The Ruins of a Brick House demolished by the Freshet of May 21, 1901. Bakersville, Mitchell Co., N. C.

stripping trees for bark and leaving the trunks to rot, cutting clean for pulp, and felling at once for lumber purposes trees which should be left indefinitely on the ground. Abusing the exploiter is gratuitous, vain, unjust. His "greed," so called, and his disregard for public interests are no greater than those of other men. He is simply following the principle whereby successes have been achieved and fortunes won on every side; but, in so doing, he is, nevertheless, mining and sapping at the very foundations of national well-being.

The second principle, on the other hand, impels the quest not for