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One of the most encouraging signs to those who are alarmed over the high cost of living, and that is about all of us, is the recognition by the farmers, State agricultural colleges and railroads, of the necessity of introducing up-to-date methods for raising and marketing grain, live stock, fruit, dairy produce, etc. Only last week I read the announcement of a convention called in Kansas, where three thousand delegates will meet to consider this very question of improving the methods of farming. These delegates will represent not only farmers but also the bankers, merchants, wage-earners and all divisions of society. It would take a volume to describe even in outline the great social and economic reforms being promoted by Mr. Andrew Carnegie, Mrs. Edward H. Harriman, Mrs. Russell Sage and Mr. John D. Rockefeller, whose $60,000,000 gift covers the promotion and development of the high school system in the Southern States and the promotion of higher education throughout the United States, while his Sanitary Commission has discovered and is eradicating the hookworm disease in the South. The Carnegie Institute of Washington, with an endowment of $22,000,000, was founded to encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner investigation, research and discovery, and the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind, while the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, with its $15,000,000 endowment, provides retiring pensions for the teachers of universities, colleges and technical schools. The Russell Sage Foundation, endowed by Mrs. Sage with $10,000,000, has for its purpose the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States of America. There are the tremendous achievements through the institutional work of the churches of all denominations. Three-fourths of the efforts in the live churches of today are devoted to material welfare, as is evidenced by the especial care of the orphan, the sick and the poor on the part of the Catholic Church; the great, Hebrew philanthropic and educational agencies; and such single illustrations as the social work outlined in the handbooks just issued by Trinity and St. George's parishes in New York—the former being a revelation to those who believed that the millions of Trinity Church were being used only for commercial profits. The Young Men's Christian Association, with its tremendous energy and enthusiasm, while organized primarily to promote the spiritual growth of young men, has lately, under its “physical and social wellbeing” clause, gone into the field of industrial betterment with conspicUlOllS Sul ("CCSS. The Men and Religion Forward Movement and the Federation of Churches, representing many million members of Protestant denominations, have recently adopted broad programs of industrial and social reform. There are the movement to suppress the social evil, known as the Federation of Sex Hygiene; the Anti-Tuberculosis Society, with its wonderfully comprehensive and successful efforts in fighting the great white plague; the Red Cross Society which, in addition to relieving distress in great disasters, has fostered with marked success annual competitive drills of “first-aid” crews from the mines; the Boy Scouts of America, inculcating patriotism and good citizenship; the National Consumers’ League; the New York Museum of Safety and Sanitation; the Prison Labor Reform Association, and hundreds of other organizations and movements devoted to human betterment too numerous even to mention by title. And last, but not least, there is the educational work being done by the National Civic Federation through its Departments on Conciliation, Compensation for Injured Workmen, Industrial Welfare, Pure Food and Drugs, Reform in Legal Procedure, Regulation of Interstate and Municipal Utilities, Regulation of Industrial Corporations and Uniform State Legislation. As much of the work of the various departments of the National Civic Federation called for uniform State legislation, a special department was organized to co-operate with the Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The importance of uniformity to all business and commercial institutions is clearly recognized, when we consider that our larger corporations—such as the railroads, telegraph, insurance, banking and trust companies and, in fact, so far as taxation is concerned, all manufacturing concerns whose plants are in different States—are subject to forty-eight masters, each with a mind quite different from that of the others. The “interminable’’ law's delay, the clashing of the States upon the question of regulation of corporations and combinations, the diversity of State laws on ordinary commercial matters, such as warehouse receipts, bills of lading and negotiable notes, the urgent need for a uniform bill on compensation for industrial accidents, all give emphasis to the need for uniformity. But even this chaotic legislative situation shows encouraging signs of clearing up. So much for progress along industrial and social lines; but we have made and are making just as great progress in this country along other lines that affect the general welfare of the people. And also our ethical standards and our aspirations are conspicuously higher. For instance: Within the past twenty years there has been a most remarkable gain in the popular concept of the relation of industrial, railway and municipal utility corporations to the public. The large corporations called trusts have been taught even in the past five years that they must recognize certain “‘rules of the game’’ that give their competitors a chance, and what is wholesome about this from the ethical standpoint is that they now admit the justice of these changed conditions.
The abolition of rebates and free passes and the placing of railroad, telegraph, telephone and express companies absolutely under the regulatory power of the Interstate Commerce Commission are so far-reaching that the benefits to the people are impossible to measure. From federal regulation of railroads, it was only a step to State regulation of street railway, gas and electric light companies. The idea that railways or big corporations are masters of the people has been dissipated. Today, through insistent demand of the people for publicity, it can be said that the big business of the country is being done behind glass doors. The improved methods of doing business adopted by banks, trust companies and insurance companies during the past five years would alone justify this statement. In practically five years, thanks to the great educational work of the National Conservation Congress, there has been a complete transformation of the public mind in the matter of proper control of our natural resources, such as our public lands, timber and water power. It was not many years ago, when I was living in the West, that it was considered a smart thing to “grab off” all public land that one could get hold of. This was generally accomplished by taking land in the name of your mother and father and all your children, past, present and future, and it was not bad form even to use your neighbor’s name in taking up claims. I found my own name had been used in three or four different counties by some of my ambitious neighbors. Politically speaking, we have progressed from the state where our elections were great public scandals and where primary elections were “free-for-alls,” with no legal status whatever, to a day when, thanks to the Australian ballot law, ballot-box stuffing is practically unknown and primaries are generally so conducted that the voters control. Campaign contributions that were largely responsible for corruption in politics and legislation are now by law made public to the world. The initiative, referendum and direct primary have been adopted in some form in two-thirds of the States and in over two hundred cities the commission form of government, often with a recall attachment, has been adopted. These measures, whether they prove to be practical reforms or not—and there are many who doubt that—undeniably testify to the paramount power of those agitating for a so-called “progressive program,” they all being opposed by what are termed the “reactionaries.” The civil service, from being a thing detested by nearly everybody twenty years ago, is so popular today that political parties are vying with each other to see which can include the largest number of civil employes. The President has just ordered the 35,000 fourth-class postmasters be taken from under the political brokerage offices of the Congressmen and placed under the civil service law.
The government of cities, which has been the burning shame of this country, as it was in the early days of every other country, is slowly but surely becoming more decent and effective. The work of the National Municipal League, the hundreds of local municipal reform associations, and the National Bureau of Municipal Research with its local bureaus, furnish abundant evidence of the truth of this statement. The Bureau of Municipal Research is not only making an exhaustive and painstaking analysis of administrative methods in many large cities, and installing more up-to-date and efficient systems, but it also has prevailed upon the Federal Government to have a similar investigation made in its various departments. It has, in addition, organized a training school to meet the demand for municipal experts. The administration of justice and the influence of wealth upon the decisions of the courts have been revolutionized in the past ten years. It used to be charged that the criminal courts convicted only the poor and released the rich, wheras today the penitentiary that has not a half dozen or more bankers or rich malefactors within its walls is the exception. There is no man or corporation so powerful today as to be immune from attack by the government when violating the law. The American Bar Association and the National Civic Federation are jointly working to bring about a reform in legal procedure which will wipe out unnecessary delays and cost in litigation, thereby opening the courts more freely to the wage-earner. Five years ago there was no such thing as a Pure Food and Drug Law. Today there is a federal act which has been made the basis of legislation in thirty-five States, and in another five years it is likely to be practically impossible for misbranders or adulterators of food and drugs to live outside of our penal institutions. The rural free delivery, the postal savings bank and the parcel post are all great advances from which the farmers largely benefit. The building and loan associations and savings banks, unknown in early days, are great aids to wage-earners. In other words, reform is writ large over all sections of the country and all classes of society. There are: Over two thousand boards of trade and chambers of commerce, at least half of whose efforts are directed towards municipal and industrial reforms, and the other half to commercial reforms; Thousands of church societies and committees aiding in the improvement of industrial, social and political conditions in their respective localities; Thousands of women's clubs, representing over two million of the brightest and most energetic women of our nation, devoted to securing civic improvement, factory legislation and reforms in public schools, to spreading information upon social hygiene and domestic science and
working for the protection of women and the redemption of unfortunate ones; Thirty thousand labor organizations, whose purpose is not only to secure better working conditions, better wages and a shorter workday for wage-earners, but also to lift them to a higher plane of citizenship, and Millions of farmers who, through granges, alliances and institutes, are working not only to improve the home life on the farm, but to educate their children in the use of better and more scientific methods of production. Pretty fair, is it not, for a people whom our English critics and our American Socialists say are bereft, or almost so, of a social sense? And it must also be kept in mind that this resume does not refer to progress in science, invention and the arts, nor is attention called to the fact that never before in the history of this country were the basic conditions better than they are now, despite the fact that a national political compaign is supposed to be on. But while the progress made has been so tremendous that we do not realize it, on none of these lines is it contended that anything near the ideal has been reached. There are yet very many black places and perplexing problems demanding attention on the part of those who love their fellow-men. But the same courage, intelligence and humanitarianism that have accomplished so much will not now falter, but will press forward. Many in this audience may conclude that I am unduly optimistic and that I am able only to see the good, but I can assure you that I know something as well about the ills of society; for instance, I could cite from the records of the Welfare Department of the National Civic Federation alone a catalogue of industrial horrors showing where greedy and thoughtless, if not unfeeling and criminal, employers are grossly and outrageously mistreating the wage-earners in their employ, paying them atrociously low wages, working them excessively long hours and giving no consideration to the comforts or decencies that a humane employer would furnish. But also from that same record I could show that all such evils are being met by other employers, justifying the belief that, through education and proper agitation, the remaining sore spots can be removed. Last year one great corporation alone spent five millions of dollars in betterment work, including a gradual shortening of the working time in its plans for improving conditions, and several large corporations, operating night and day, have gone from two twelve-hour shifts to three eight-hour shifts without decrease of pay. As a concrete and striking example of the power of agitation and education, there can be no better illustration than the present widespread sentiment in favor of legal enactments requiring compensation