« AnteriorContinuar »
so long and so frequently, seems to be steadily in one direction, in consequence of which I have come to the conclusion long ago that you might just as well try to regulate the law of gravitation as to regulate monopoly when the things and substances of monopolies are permitted to remain under private control. (Applause.) Here is a statement in Mr. Pinchot's report that simply utters a profound and well-known truth: “Water power is a natural monopoly; hence the prevention of injury to the public from a monopolization of water power involves the whole question of the terms upon which the right to use a water power site should be granted.”
He also says that “mechanical power lies at the root of modern civilization. The control” of these bases which he mentions, “carries with it the control of industry and transportation.”
If that be control—and there is no question about it—then those elements should be in the hands and controlled by the public, by the people speaking through their governments, state and national. If I had my way, which fortunately I have not, I would oppose the granting of a franchise to any corporation for any water power or for any of these basic elements, but insist that they should be developed by the states, not for purposes of profit, but for purposes of service. (Applause.) That, my friends, will be the ultimate solution of this question, though we may not live to see it. It is either that or it will be its opposite—the full supremacy of monopolistic foundations. But we must meet things as they are.
I shall be as brief as possible and I shall endeavor to confine myself, as did my colleague, to conditions applicable to the country from whence we hail and where we have lived for many years and contributed our mite toward the development of the resources of that section.
The point I want to emphasize is this, that the states of the arid west and their people own the waters of the natural streams thereof. There is no question about that—at least, there is not yet. But in the march of centralization it may possibly be that even the grant of the Government of the United States of this precious ownership may be questioned or controlled. It is true that the Government owns the land which constitute sites for water power upon the Public Domain in many instances, and by the exercise of its sovereign authority may refuse to the states the use of that which belongs to it, by declining to permit the acquisition of those sites or by imposing conditions upon their acquisitions which are practically prohibitive in their character.
We contend that the ownership of the water carries with it the right to use that water at all times, under such conditions and provisions as are made by the states themselves for that purpose, and that any interference therewith amounts, in whole or in part, to confiscation. We have the same right as the states, to say to the general government, “You shall not use our water,” that the United States has to say to the states, “You shall not use our land.” As long as that conflict exists, whatever you may do here, there is going to be no regulation of this question, in my judgment, for there is a conflict of imposing and enduring force, as Mr. Stuart once said, which must be recognized and reckoned with, and it means state control of this question sooner or later, whether you will or no. We of the west claim nothing that the states of the east have not always asserted when we say that the sovereignty which we have acquired by virtue of our admission to the Union, gives us the right to control these affairs absolutely. How can it be possible to carry out either or any of these programs unless you recognize and reckon with that situation? It seems to me these reports are very well illustrated by the story of the old darkey whose physician called to see him, and after he went away the old man gave his opinion of the advice he had received. He said, “That doctor is a fine gentleman, but he don't know anything about niggers. He said, ‘John, you must eat lots of chicken soup,' and then he says, “and, John, you must not go out nights until you get well.’” (Laughter.) In other words, you cannot carry out the doctor's prescription here unless you recognize a fundamental condition that must be reckoned with in that connection. It is said that you cannot trust the states with this great responsibility; that the states are weak; that they cannot stand the onslaughts or the influences of these mighty powers of monopoly; that it is only this mighty and central power that can cope with these evils. If that were true I would say here and now, ladies and gentlemen, that the states should grant back to the Government their ownership of these waters at once. But we contend that it is not true, and we continue to so contend until demonstration shall establish a different conclusion. From what sources, ladies and gentlemen, have the great abuses arisen which have demanded the exercise of our powers of conservation from one end of this country to the other? Did they spring from state governments? Or did they spring from national law? I want to say here and now that monopoly of the timber lands of the United States is largely the direct offspring of the forestry reservation system. I do not by that mean to censure in the slightest or to reflect upon the management of these forestry reservations in that connection, since an established bureau has had them under supervision and brought about present conditions. We all know in the west that these reservations were extended time and time again by the governmental authorities for the purpose of taking in worthless lands, owned in private, to be exchanged by their owners for the finest timber lands in the United States! (Cries of “That's right! That's right!”) Men in my state, owning lands off of which a jaybird could not make a living, up in the mountains, were permitted by the extension of these boundary lines to exchange those lands for the magnificent timber lands of Oregon and Washington. My colleague spoke of the enormous largess of the Government to the railroads. These are only instances. I might mention many others.
But, my friends, if Colorado had owned this Public Domain, as does Texas, and if Oregon had owned its Public Domain, as does Texas, could the men in my state then secure an extension of forest reservation boundaries, and in consequence of it go to Oregon and get the best land in that state? Did you ever stop to think of the fact that it is because of this national ownership, nation wide, that these things have been and so continue to be, the states themselves protesting against it until it became such a national scandal and nuisance that it was the states individually which rose in revolt and established every reform of a practical character that today is supreme in the government of the nation? (Applause.) Corruption, abuse—these things are the direct offspring of centralized legislation everywhere, for a great central government must have its bureau, and bureaucracy has long become synonymous with misgovernment. Two thousand miles away from this city lies the state which I in part represent here in Washington. Think you that our people are not more concerned in the disposition of our lands and in their control and in good government and in seeing to it that all property shall contribute its part to the wealth of the country and the general revenues—are not more direct, are not more insistent, and therefore more apt to be along lines of good government than is the case here 2,000 miles away, where the matters are controlled by men, some of whom never saw the state, some of whom may never see the state, and all of whom are intent upon the domination of a system and which is made universal regardless of existing conditions requiring different laws and different administrations in dfferent parts of the country. “Oh,” it is said, “these great influences are too apt to control us; we will drag down under their burdens.” Yet the state of New Jersey spawns corporations by the thousand, and so does Delaware, and so do all the other eastern states, which corporations then come out and prey upon us, and when we question some of their doings, they take us into the court of the United States, in order that they may obtain the protection which they claim by virtue of this semi-foreign system of judicial administration, and the courts, understanding these conditions, are bereft of jurisdiction of things which live and prosper and virtually have their being within our midst.
My friends, there are two sides to this question. Texas, which never owned an acre of national public lands, can square well in her administration of her affairs with the manner in which the national domain has been administered by the central authorities at Washington.
Let us come for a moment to this question of requiring franchise holders to pay a part of their earnings to their government. On the face of it it looks quite reasonable, does it not ? Did you ever stop to think who ultimately pays the freight? Do the companies make this contribution to the government, or do you and I, in increased charges for service, necessarily increased charges for service? Of course, I understand, as was asked my colleague, that the Government of the United States is entirely in fashion, because it gives us an occasional mite out of the money which it accumulates in this way; but the money comes from the tax-payers, the consumers, only a small part of which finds its way in little rivulets back to the country where it belongs.
The ex-Secretary of War spoke of our duty to the nation. Yes, we all owe a duty to the nation. We are all proud of this mighty republic, and all ready to live and to die for it. But the states are a part of the republic. The states complement the republic, and just as each keeps within its own sphere of usefulness will the republic itself prosper and find a stronger and stronger hold in the hearts and upon the affections of the people. (Applause.)
One of the gravest charges made in the report of Mr. Pinchot is that there has been a monopoly constantly accruing in undeveloped power. I have no doubt that is a fact. I believe, as he does, that all these powers and the accumulation of these water powers do leave a monopoly. How can you prevent it by national legislation? The national government cannot tax them directly. You cannot take them away. If these matters are turned over to the states, we can, by imposing taxes upon every bit of their actual value, compel these people to disgorge their holdings of this undeveloped power, or else compel them to develop it. (Applause.)
I am reminded, my friends, by the Chairman—and the reminder is a just one—that I have already exceeded my time. I merely want to say in conclusion that the people of the west —and when I say the west, I mean the sure-enough west, away out beyond the Missouri River, the country that was settled by the best and the bravest type of American citizenship that ever emigrated and crossed into what was then called the desert, the great American desert which they have made to blossom as the rose. We are conservationists. We are going to do and we have done all we can, all that is possible to make the resources of this nation yield their utmost and bring harvest not only to ourselves, but to the generations that are to come. But you must remember that ours is a local interest, intent upon seeing this development, that it may be along proper lines advanced and promoted to the end that these states shall also grow in power, in wealth and in population, as have the states that have come into being and secured possession of their resources before this new idea of Federal administration existed. (Applause.)
(After the conclusion of the address of Senator Thomas, President Pack announced an arrangement whereby an additional hour could be provided for discussion of water power at the afternoon session. He moved that when adjournment of the morning session should be made it should be until 2 o'clock in the afternoon with the understanding and instruction that a vote to be taken at 3 o'clock on the proposition before the house. the adoption of the unanimous recommendations of the Committee on Water Power. Here followed considerable discussion on a point of order by Mr. Charles F. Potter, of California, to the effect that the report had been referred to the Committee on Resolutions and could not be approved or disapproved until the committee had made its report. The discussion was participated in by Hon. John L. Burnett, of Alabama; Mr. M. T. Bryan, of Tennessee; Mr. Potter; Mr. Albert Johnson, of Washington, and Mr. Chadwick. Chairman Fisher ruled that the unanimous report was at that time properly before the house for discussion and action. Mr. Pack's motion prevailed by unanimous vote, taken viva voce.)