THE POWER BEHIND THE DAM
Today, if it can manage to reach a decision in the one day allotted to the subject, the House of Representatives votes on the Muscle Shoals question. There are three possible plans, which will be considered--all of them dealing with phases of government operation of the tremendous plant. Private operation plans, which would necessarily involve great losses to the United States, have all been abandoned.
One plan concerns itself with the manufacture of nitrates, an obsolete process, which now holds little value. Another interests itself with the profits obtainable through the utilization of the water power project, but omits the consideration of public interest which is incorporated in the Norris plan passed by the Senate some time ago. In it Senator Norris proposed not only that the government market the power of Muscle Shoals, but that it also devote the proceeds to the development of farm fertilizers. The dual project of the Norris plan is sound, but it has more than this to recommend it. It will provide a test of the comparative merits of public and private operation. If the government can make a success of the Muscle Shoals plant under the Norris plan which not only pays for itself, but also is concerned with the public interest through the manufacture of fertilizers, a precedent will be established for further government control. At all events, should the test prove successful or not, the House would do well to follow the lead of the Senate and give the Norris plan the chance to prove its worth.