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The minority report of Mr. Pattison of the Pacific Railway Commission seems to be the wildest official production that has ever appeared in print since the Pacific Railroad was opened for business. Mr. Pattison recommends that all plans for recovering the Government's money be made subordinate to the "punishment of the criminals," and that the first step to be taken should be the forfeiture of the charters of both roads. How this forfeiture should be accomplished is not made very clear. If it is to be done by act of Congress, the fact that the Central Pacific's charter was granted by the State of California might constitute an ob stacle. If it is to be done by a suit at law in which the United States is to figure as plaintiff, it might be objected that under the terms of the original act the debt to the Government is not due until some ten years hence, and that under the Thurman Act nothing is due except certain payments to the sinking fund, which have been duly made in accordance with the terms of that act. It might and would be set up in bar of such a suit that when the Government established a mode of payment by the Thurman Act, and received payments under the same.it was estopped from forfeiture proceedings as to any acts or things occurring before that time, so long as the terms of the act are complied with. The whole scope of Mr. Pattison's report bears the impress of crankiness. It is fortunate that two members of the Commission kept the main object of their appointment in view, and sought diligently for means to get the Government's money paid, just as any right-minded attorney of a creditor would do in handling a debtor's estate.'
The main points of the report of the Commission are that the companies shall execute a formal mortgage to the Government in place of the present statutory mortgage, and shall include in it their branch lines and all their property; that thereupon the debt shall be extended to fifty years at 8 per cent, interest, payable semi-annually, with a sinking fund of one-half of one per cent, for the first ten years, at the end of which period a sinking fund shall be established which will pay off the whole debt at maturity. To this is added a proviso that the roads shall empower the Attorney-General of the United States to bring any suit he may see fit in behalf of the companies to secure restitution of moneys due to the companies from any private individual or corporation. This plan is perfectly rational throughout. It ought to be adopted by Congress at an early day.
The Stock Exchange seems to have taken amiss the action of the VanderbMt roads in not increasing their dividends in proportion to their earnings, the quotations for all of
them falling slightly after the decision was made. Probably a more rational view will be taken after a few days. The action of the companies was conservative and prudent in a high degree, as was also that of the Lackawanna Company, which decided in like manner to lay up a reserve fund against a rainy day. There are surpluses and surpluses—some which represent losses in former years, and which stand on the ledger for an indefinite period because the managers have not the courage to write them off the books. Very few of those venerable surpluses are available to make good a shrinkage of earnings in a bad year. But there can be no doubt, apparently, that the surplus kept back by the New York Central, Lake Shore, Michigan Central, and Canada Southern from the present dividends is a real reserve, which may be used either to make good a deficiency in some other year, or to avoid borrowing in case a necessary improvement is called for. In either case, the shares of the companies ought to advance rather than decline. It requires some courage to face discontented shareholders and withhold from them money which they think belongs to them, but it is only the first step that costs. It will be easier the next time. The experience of all these roads during the past five years teaches that no company can afford to distribute its entire earnings in times of prosperity. If the New York Central had divided only 6 per cent, during .tbjp heyday of good times, and had kept the balance in available form for the bad times that were threatened and that actually followed, it might have gone through the West Shore crisis without passing a dividend.
There has been no more melancholy sight in this country since the abolition of slavery than that afforded by the strike of the poor men in the employ of the Reading Railroad, at the beginning of the winter, most of them with families dependent on them. They had no grievance against the company except that it would not allow the train hands to decide for whom it shall carry freight, and they were controlled, under the organization of the Knights of Labor, by a band of scheming adventurers who insisted on the company's submitting this question to "arbitration," and levy money from the laborers' wages for salaries and office rent. There is no use in blaming the Powderlys, and Quinns, and Lees, and the ike, for trying to live by organizing, and holding meetings, and issuing orders. Tens of thousands of men in all ranks of ife would live in the same way if they could jet the chance. What is most to be deplored n the matter is the immense mass of childish ignorance which these strikes represent, and which makes the "Grand Masters " and the 'General Worthy Foremen" possible. Mayor Tewitt, on Thursday night, at the dinner of he Board of Trade, spoke some lulling words about the responsibility of the class of politi
cians who encourage these " secret and irresponsible organizations" in their attacks on the peace and industry of the country, by pretending to think their existence and activity justified by the conduct of " capital."
It usually happens, in disputes and strikes, where the Knights of Labor are concerned, that there are a lot of "private understandings" relied upon by the master workmen and executive committees to justify themselves to the public and their own followers. These private understandings usually consist of hints, winks, insinuations, or other deceptive contrivances on the part of the employer which convey to the master workmen, etc., the idea that if they will order the strike off, their demands will be complied with in some roundabout way. The history of the great Southwestern strike was full of such private understandings between Gen. Hoxie and Martin Irons, and even Mr. Powderly had resort to one such understanding with Jay Gould, although the written correspondence and short-hand report of the conversation between the parties proved conclusively that there was not and could not have been any such understanding. The Reading strike has yielded the usual crop of whispered agreements, tha most important being the pretended agreement between the Superintendent and the Strike Committee to submit the differences to arbitration. Everybody with the least grain of intelligence must have seen that there was no room for arbitration, since there was no question of wages, or hours, or methods of labor to submit to arbitrators. The question in dispute was whether the Reading Company should obey a law which requires it to transport freight for all persons offering the same without discrimination. Was there anything here to arbitrate upon? Arbitration implies that a decision may be given against you, and that if it is, you must abide by it. It can have no other meaning. Suppose that the arbitrators in the supposed case were to decide that the Reading Company need not carry the flour of Taylor & Sons? Would such a decision relieve them from penalties under the InterState Commerce Act or under the law of Pennsylvania? Suppose the arbitrators were to decide that, although the Reading Company were obliged to carry the flour of Taylor & Sons, yet, if their employees refused to move the cars, the company had no right to put others in their places. Would such a decision save them from seizure by the sheriff? The very statement of the case shows that the alleged understanding between the Superintendent and the Knights was impossible. The evident truth is, that it was a fiction invented by the Committee to . preserve their credit with their own deluded Followers.
We are glad to say a publishers' copyright eajjue has been formed to cofijxirnU: with the