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Into sharp relief has the railroad problem of the United States been thrown by the decision of the President's fact-finding board. For, in ruling that the threatened wage-cut is unfair to employees, as well as futile toward a general solution of the problem, the report has silently but surely implied that the salvation of American railroads lies only in an evangelistic conversion: i.e., in complete reorganization. Only this could it have meant when it pointed out "the necessity that now rests upon the government for a complete and thorough-going reconsideration of the relationship of the railroad industry to our national well-being."
Complete reorganization does not mean merely the elimination of the million-dollar-a-day waste reported by the board. Nor does it mean minor legislation on bankruptcy and finance which would only make it more convenient for a railroad to pass from one receiver to the next. Nor, above all, does it mean the billion-dollar rehabilitation loan by the government which would preserve and subsidize the present rotten and aged structure.
It means a revolutionary revision of the whole set-up, down to the most vital fundamentals. There must be a drastic reduction of the capital indebtedness, now ridiculously high because of over-optimism as well as unbelievable financial skull-duggery in the past. And there must be consolidation, with the subsequent elimination of the competitive scramble for traffic, into a few large companies, private or semi-public.
While these are drastic measures, they are even more necessary. They will be met by determined opposition on the part of workers and owners, but the interests of both must bow to the public interest which is here paramount. The railroads' cry for "immediate financial relief" constitutes a crisis; and this can be met satisfactorily only by a conference of the three parties concerned--government (representing the people), employers, and employees--from which will emerge a plan which at least approximates these most desirable measures.
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