Public Ownership of Public Utilities
Publication
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 1 Feb 1906, p. 143-154
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Public Ownership of Public Utilities


Increasingly heated controversy over the question of public ownership of public utilities. Arguments for and against. The issue as applied to the railroads. What's wrong with asking a railroader about railroads: the question not one of railroads, but of government. The railroad as a public function. The fundamental principle that supports the claim that railroads are public utilities. The physical necessity of trade across the nation that distinguishes the public function of railroads, just as the right of highway has always been a matter of public law. Private management tending toward economy in management; but with the resulting profit going to who? A look at the economics of the issue, with illustrative examples, figures, and comparisons with other countries. The argument that public ownership would so increase the number of public employees that the political supremacy of the party in power would be perpetuated. Socialism as public ownership of private utilities. Ways in which private utilities are naturally open to free competition. A method by which the anxiety of those who fear socialism may be allayed, provided the so-called conservatives will undertake a vigorous corrective policy; a method which involved genuine public regulation. A caution against people in Canada as well as in the United States not hoping for too much from the public ownership of public utilities. Demanding freedom from all monopoly. The history of all countries where public ownership has been tried without curtailing the landlord's power showing no relief to the industrial masses. Private taxation as the cause of all industrial troubles. Public taxation of private monopoly as the remedy.