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Yesterday afternoon in the Harvard Liberal Club, Norman Thomas, presidential candidate of the socialist party in the recent election, and Professor Philip Cabot of the Harvard Business School were the principals in a stirring debate on the proposition: "Resolved, That power resources should be publicly owned." An audience of over 100 people crowded the living room of the Liberal Club, and many had to be turned away, L. B. Cohen '32, chairman of the meeting, opened the discussion by apologizing for the inadequacy of the accommodations and explaining that the authorities had not permitted the use of a bigger hall, as so large a crowd had not been expected.
Mr. Thomas was then introduced and spoke for 20 minutes. "Public utilities," he declared, "are deriving great profits at the expense of the people. The great holding companies, such as the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, are ruining the country. It is a well-known and disgraceful fact that two years ago $30,000 were spent here at Harvard in an attempt to induce Harvard professors to spread propaganda for public utilities." As an illustration of the exhorbitance of the rates charged by United States monopolies, Mr. Thomas showed that the rates in Ontario where the electric power concern is owned and operated by the government are 300 per cent lower than the rates in New York, both companies using Niagara Falls for their power.
Professor Cabot argued that monopolies provide their own competition and thus are forced to keep their prices down. If an organization having a monopoly over a certain industry tries to charge rates that are too high, the public will be sure to find a cheaper substitute.
After a short rebuttal, Mr. Thomas was forced to leave and there was no opportunity for questions from the audience, as had been planned.
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