The courage and straight-forwardness of the Interstate Commerce Commission in its decision concerning the Nickel Plate merger must be highly praised. Federal discouragement of trusts is nothing now, to be sure, but it is a pleasant novelty to study the basis of the present manifesto. It will be remembered that Roosevelt wielded his "big stick" against the steel and the packing interests in something of an ostentatious manner. Always quick to cater to popular notions, the President found a new road to the people's heart in his campaign against the trusts.
The present decision has borne out what Roosevelt often preached but rarely practiced,--that there are good trusts as well as bad ones. The Commission has expressed its approval of the aim of the Van Sweringon merger, its objections have been of a purely economic nature. It has condemned the provisions that allow the Van Sweringon brothers to control 51 percent of the voting power while owning but 32 percent of the outstanding stock.
As Professor Ripley pointed out in his recent criticism of modern corporate organization, it is bad business to sequester the control of a corporation, and, in this case, a public service corporation, in the hands of a small group of un-responsible if not irresponsible directors. When this objectionable feature has been removed, provided the promoters are willing to comply with the new economic spirit, then the Commission will be able to tuck the huge consolidation away among the "good trusts" and hid it a successful career.