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Debate of December 12, 1895.Question: Resolved, That American cities should own and operate the street cars within their limits."
Brief for the Affirmative.E. M. GROSSMAN and F. H. SMITH, JR.
Best general references: National Conference for Good City Government, Philadelphia, 1894 (also bibliography at end of the book); A. H. Sinclair, Municipal Monopolies and their Management (Toronto Univ. Studies in Pol. Sci. No. 2); Solomon Schindler, The Use of Public Ways by Private Corporations, a reply to S. L. Powers in Arena V. 687-693. (May 1892): The Relation of Modern Municipalities to Quasi-Public Works (Am. Ec. Assn. Pubs.); A. D. White, The Government of American Cities, in Forum, X. 357-372 (Dec. 1890); Albert Shaw, Municipal Government in Great Britain.
I. The ever increasing tendency today is towards government control of quasi-public works.- (a) This also applies to municipalities as shown in the present condition of affairs: Professor Hadley in Pol. Sci. Quar., III. 573 (Dec. 1888); Municipal monopolies and their Management, 35.
II. Street railways are quasi-public works.- (a) Because they are of a public nature.- (1) In their economic relations.- (2) In their legal relations.- (3) In their use of public highways.
III. Under the present system of private ownership and management there are many evils: A. R. Conkling, City Goverment in the United States, 111.- (a) Because they are conducted primarily for private interest.- (b) Because a great source of corruption in municipal politics.- (1) Undue lobbying on the part of car companies.- (2) Partial discrimination by city authorities.- (c) Because a great waste of municipal wealth.
IV. These evils will continue so long as the present system exists.- (a) They can not be abolished by law.- (1) Legislative interference is ineffectual.
V. The great advantages to be gained from municipal ownership of street railways are-(a) That they will be conducted entirely for public interest.- (b) That a great source of corruption in municipal politics will be removed.- (1) It will stop lobbying.- (2) It will stop discrimination.- (c) That the people instead of the company will be the gainers: The Arena, V. 692 (May 1892); City Government in the United States, 176.- (1) Either fares could be reduced, or-(2) The service could be improved, or-(3) The returns could be expended in public works.- (d) That there would be a more expedient mode of redress in case of grievances.- (e) That a better condition of the streets could be maintained.- (f) That strikes would be prevented.
VI. Municipal ownership and operation is practicable.- (a) As shown from the experience of American cities in the management of water and gas.- (b) As shown in the case of foreign cities.
Brief for the Negative.S. P. DELANY and A. G. LEWIS.
Best general references: Political Science Quar., III. 576-595 (Dec., 1888); Engin. Mag., V. 725; A. R. Conkling, City Govt. in the U. S.; Nation, LVIII, 285 (Apr. 19, 1894); LVI, 449 (June 22, 1893); LX, 102 (Feb. 7, 1895); A. R. Foote, Municipal Ownership of Quasi-Public Works; John Stuart Mill, Political Economy, Book V, ch. 11, 1-6; Bastable, Public Finance, 184 ff; Bryce, American Commonwealth, II, 367-385 (on Philadelphia Gas Ring); A. C. Burrage, Municipal Lighting; Hadley, Railroad Transportation.
I. Municipal ownership of quasi-public works is unwise in theory.- (a) It is an undue extension of the powers of government: J. E. Dillon, quoted in speech of E. W. Burdett before Mass. Legislature, p. 17.- (b) It tends to paternalism and socialism: Wm. E. Russell, quoted, Ibid, p. 18.- (c) Discourages invention and improved methods in public works.- (1) Kills competition: Speech of A. C. Burrage, p. 18.- (2) Removes the incentive to profit making: Pol. Sci. Quar. Dec. '88, p. 590.- (3) Leads to conservatism.- (d) Public labor less efficent than private: Chairman of Boston Park Commission, in speech of Burrage, p. 11.- (e) Tends unduly to raise wages.- (1) The employer is the best judge of reasonable wages.- (2) Government control makes the laborer the judge: Nation LX, 102.
II. The present conditions in American cities are such that municipal ownership and management of street railways would be undesirable.- (a) Those who control municipal politics are not men of good business capacity.- (b)Corruption would be increased.- (1) All employes of street railways would become part of the political machine.- (c) Would increase the already serious problem of municipal indebtedness: Bastable, p. 184.- (d) In large cities municipal lines would clash with suburban lines.- (e) The remedy for present evils lies in additional regulations by the city government: Burrage, p. 17.
III. Government ownership of quasipublic works has failed in practice.- (a) State ownership has proved unwise.- (1) Railways in Europe: Hadley, pp. 217, 228. 235.- (2) Telegraph system in Eng and: Pol. Sci. Quar., Dec. '88, p. 590 ff.- (b) Municipal ownership has proved undesirable.- (1) Gas-lighting.- (x) English Cities: Board of Trade Reports to Parl., 189.- (y) Philadelphia: Bryce, Am. Com., 367 ff.; Speech of P. A. Collins before Mass. Leg., p. 12.- (2) Electric Lighting and Power: M. J. Francisco, in Engin. Mag., v. 725.- (3) Waterworks: Boston, Albany, Philadelphia: Conkling, pp. 21, 100; Burrage, p. 10.
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