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The Pasteur Medal for Debating was awarded to Henry Epstein '16, of Brooklyn, N. Y., in the fifteenth annual contest held in Sever 11 last evening. Louis Charles Henin uC., of Springfield, was given honorable mention. Six other contestants also discussed the question, "French Experience in the Administration of Railroads," for ten minutes each.
The judges of the debate were Professors C. H. C. Wright, I. L. Winter, and Mr. L. J. A. Mercier. M. Suravitz 1L. was in the chair.
Epstein presented a remarkably clear argument, basing it upon three points: first, that private ownership of the railroads has been wholly unsuccessful; second, that a strict government supervision, while an improvement over the former plan, has not been conducive to the highest degree of efficiency; and finally, that the eventual successful operation of the roads lies in a policy of unlimited governmental control. The failure of the private system was due to the desire of the owners to realize the greatest possible amount of money out of the railroads at the expense of equipment, service, and general progress. That close oversight by the government has resulted in the reducing of rates, the free carriage of mails, and numerous other improvements, heralds the future efficiency of entire control.
Speeches of Other Competitors.
L. C. Henin took a middle ground, declaring that while private ownership has been a dismal failure, public ownership seems no better. The solution lies in adopting neither, but in enforcing a regime of private ownership under strict governmental regulation.
S. B. Pfeifer '16 emphasized the fact that public operation has resulted not only in the highest business efficiency, but also in the best service to the public. Lower rates have been accompanied by superior accommodations.
State management was attacked by C. T. Rand '13, who affirmed that this form of operation reflected upon the taxpayer, costing him more than the other system. Government ownership has been insecure and irregular in its working, and has resulted in a great increase of expenditures.
P. L. Sayre '16 found public ownership successful in the highest degree. The highly centralized government of France has alone enabled her to solve a very difficult problem.
That 75 years of experience have demonstrated public ownership superior, was the argument of F. F. Greenman '14. Though rates under this regime are higher, yet the earnings more than proportionately excell those of the other regime.
P. P. Chosen '16 explained that the existing system of oversight has not proved satisfactory, since the government has frequently to advance large sums to support the railroads.
J. W. Cooke '16 laid great stress upon the fact that the railroads of France are so closely interwoven with her industrial structure that they constitute the pivot upon which prices turn.
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